May 9, 2013 by kittynh
If anyone complains about the internet, and how social media is ruining our lives, I smack them. Well, in my head I imagine smacking them. Because I truly believe social media is to thank for things like the rapid progress with issues like gay marriage and Bigfoot hunting groups! (I am for both)
Still, for myself, the Bloggess and Hyperbole and a Half, have helped me deal with the part of my life that is depression. They have explained to the world, far better than I could, just what it’s like to have depression. The best part is that their posts are often humorous, as in “yes you can suffer from anxiety and depression and find joy and laughter in life.” I know the Bloggess is essentially a happy person, and is well aware of how lucky she is to have a supportive loving family that doesn’t always “get” her, but always loves her.
My own husband identifies with Victor, the ever confused spouse that loves his wife dearly, despite some moments of “right”. As The Bloggess treasures Victor, I treasure my husband. Case in point, how many husband’s would plan business trips around their wives speaking engagements to talk about alien abductions? My husband inspects a warehouse, and puts in a good days work, I get driven to a speaking engagement and he’s there for moral support. I have to admit, I look up to see him texting or surfing the web during my talk, but he’s there. If I had to drive myself and find the location where I will be speaking and deal with ALL the stress, I would just stay at home. I don’t know how he explains this to his friends and coworkers, I rather imagine he doesn’t, but he understands alien abduction is something I know about and people want to hear about. He’s proud, confused but proud, of me.
When I was first diagnosed with depression, I found I lost a lot of friends. It was rather, “Oh she’s sad”, and a sense they backed away. Happy cheerful Kitty is great, Kitty reading Proust and not leaving the bed and wearing pajamas for a week (I do change them periodically) is not such fun. I know it’s confusing for people, and as time has gone on I have developed coping skills. I allow myself to feel sad when needed. I allow the PJs and the extra napping. My husband keeps an eye on me and is often, “You did a lot this weekend, you deserve a few days off.” He’s helpful, but not going to race around the room with pom poms trying to cheer me up.
Actually that might work, but he’s still not going to do it.
He gets, this is something I live with and I have a doctor and some medication and I don’t need to “get over it.” I need to deal with it and work to keep from becoming truly deeply depressed (trust me that’s horrific, truly horrific).
People often don’t get that I just need these times, and know it’s accepted. I have a family member that pulls away when I’m depressed, it’s alright, we know what we can handle and what we can’t. It’s not an obligation of anyone to be understanding when someone has a rough patch. I am very careful to try to hide when I’m having a rough time though.
I was visiting a friend, which can be a big deal for me, and a stressful part of my life was triggering an anxiety attack. I was there, with all these happy people, and felt the sweat and fast heartbeat and was terrified. What is one of them was “What’s wrong with you?” Pity, advice, putting a bummer on the happy mood, the last thing I wanted was to be the focus of anyone. So I picked up the nearest pet and held on for dear life.
If you’ve seen “Get Him to the Greek” you’ll know what “pet the furry wall” means. For me, it’s grab a pet, take a moment, and I’m fine. But the fear, someone will notice, someone will try to help, or they won’t want me around again, always is there.
The Bloggess has wonderful fans and friends. They get if she needs to go under the table a bit during book signings, they get she might not be able to attend an event, but make the offer anyway. It’s as if they are “We understand, and we want you on whatever terms make you comfortable.”
I like that.
I’m happy, I am appreciative of those in my life that love me despite my less that normal moments, and I want to venture out more and do things. It’s difficult to push ones self. It’s the fear of depression and anxiety, more so than any actual feelings of depression and anxiety, that keep me from travelling and doing as much as I want to. It’s that little secret, I might have a few moments, and people are uncomfortable with “mental illness”. I want people to have a good time, I want to have a good time. I will have a good time, but I may need a little help.
So what is good help? Well, if I need to mellow in my room a bit, I’m not ditching the group. I have to pace myself. Sometimes I find myself agreeing to too much. No I can’t go see the giant ball of twine, the Pussycat dolls review, eat at that new Thai place, and ride every roller coaster in Vegas in one day. At one point, I’ll be pushing myself hoping no one notices my flush face and the panic in my eyes. I push on and almost collapse, popping an extra medication that my doctor prescribed just for these times.
I’m afraid if I admit, “I need a break” others will take it to mean “don’t include her”.
But the Bloggess is open about it. She makes me more open. I’ll just say “You know, like the Bloggess…sometimes I have some anxiety.” I also owe her for “Depression lies” coping skill. If you have depression, the Bloggess is in your corner. It truly has made my life so much better, knowing someone I admire that makes me laugh and is so talented and a genius, also has moments where it’s one foot in front of the other. It’s like having a friend that really GETS what it’s like. I wouldn’t want anything to happen to her, and I truly get the feeling even though she doesn’t know me, she doesn’t want anything to happen to me either. (hey I work with alien abductees, she should know me… truly people that suffer from depression are SO interesting)
Most of my life is terrific. I have some things I have to deal with, a disabled daughter, an immune disorder, few other health issues, but it’s nothing anyone else doesn’t also have in their lives. Living is stressful. Dealing with anxiety and depression is just part of it. I still wouldn’t trade my family or life with anyone. The good parts are great, and the bad I’m pretty darn proud of how I deal with them.
The days of hiding the bad though are I hope going to be fewer than before. Thanks to the internet, people are familiar with the work of these great bloggers so they have a basic feeling for what a lot of us go through at times.
How to help? Well, include me but don’t push. My tendency to say “YES” needs to be tempered with “Yes, but perhaps not everything, how about I catch a cab back to the hotel in the afternoon?” Also, if I am feeling bad, a snack, a drink, maybe just a few moments to pull it together without feeling I’m bumming out the group is great. Don’t ignore me, but often if I can say “geez, I’m having an anxiety attack!” can actually make it go away. I’m not mad at you if I suddenly get quiet, it’s just a mental storm that should soon pass. Petting something furry helps.
What doesn’t help? I know people that almost killed themselves when this bit the fb rounds. It’s all about how if you aren’t DOING SOMETHING for OTHERS, they will HATE YOU. Or so it seemed. The harsh truths were if you aren’t producing, you should just go kill yourself (OK I think it’s more “stop whining”). I struggled with it, until I laughed, realized it was a “CRACKED” article, and figured out I do have the right to take time for myself and people will still care about me. I then had to help others see, you don’t have to be upbeat, fun and productive to be worthwhile and loved. Also you probably are far more productive than your depressing is telling you.
I remind myself and my friends with depression, as the Bloggess says, “Depression lies”. Also how embarrassing to hurt yourself over an article in an online humor magazine? Really? Now go read the Bloggess and laugh and feel better.