Tuesday, 12 August 2014

On being down while trying to look up...

Note:  No nails today - sorry.

I sit here today, kind of weird and weepy.  Not full-blown sobbing, mind you, but my eyes have kept a steady slow leak running for the past 5 hours.

My typical morning consists of rolling out of bed to pee, then sitting back down on the edge of the bed and opening my phone to scroll FB while my body and brain try to synchronize me into the best pseudo-human version of me possible before coffee.  About an our later, after dressing and attending the dog and oh-yeah-that-coffee-bit-was-important, I'm typically ready to actually start doing things with my brain and/or my body.

Today, though, today I just can't get it together.  My brain short-circuited this morning as I scrolled my newsfeed to all the heart-wrenching goodbyes and wisely-worded cautions about the dangers of depression.  The news has hit me with particular force for a few reasons, namely because I loved Robin Williams like so many others.  A good portion of my childhood smiles resulted from Mork's antics.  As a teen, I discovered some of his blue standup and his frenetic and brilliant observations captivated me.

But, let's be honest: celebrity deaths happen all the time and I rarely have this sort of reaction.  I can only think of a handful of others who've earned my tears - George Carlin, Douglas Adams, and Patrick Swayze.  Although I had a deeply personal connection to each of those men, my eyes did not perform this imitation of the USS Arizona for hours after hearing of their passings.  This is different, and I cannot seem to resolve the sadness which feels genuine and directly connected to today's sadness, but also seems to be more than and separate from the event.

Mr. Faff just called on his lunch break, the way he always does, and when the phone rang my first impulse was not to answer it because I didn't want to have to explain why I was so oddly and overly sobby.  My gut was right on that, because when I waved off that reaction and answered the phone (because ohmidot, talk to your husband you big weenie!) and he of course asked me if I'd heard the news and I immediately started full-blown waterworks, his reaction just made it worse.  He's a man, you see, and when a man loves a woman and she is hurt or upset, all he wants to do is make that stop.  He wants to fix it.  But he can't "fix" this.  This isn't about him and all his quixotic battles against my windmills will only ever end in both of us feeling more battered and broken than we were beforehand.

This is why people who suffer from depression and anxiety try to hide it from the people who care.  This is why it's so hard for us to talk about what's wrong - often enough we can't put our feelings into words that actually convey the truth of our pain AND don't make us sound stupid or whiny or selfish.

If I'd gone with my gut and let his call go to voicemail, I might've been able to keep him from worrying about me - and maybe I would've been able to come to terms with why I'm so upset today and CURED MYSELF before he got home, so that nobody would have been inconvenienced by my pain.  As it stands, though, he knows now, and he's going to text me frequently throughout the day because he's now worried about me and when he gets home he's going to want to talk about it and right now that seems like the worst idea EVER because I can't explain WHY I'm so sullen over something that should not have provoked this kind of reaction in me.  He's going to ask me ad nauseum what he can do to make me feel better and I wish to the heavens that I had an answer for him - that I give him some magic task that would take away my melancholy.  Unfortunately I know that there's no magic pill, and all I can do is assure him and anyone who worries about me that I continue to fight my depression - that I continue to remember my many blessings in life and struggle to focus on them rather than the unfortunate number of things in my life that make me stabby and leaky.  I'm down, but I'm not giving up. 

There will be a number of you out there who know a bit about anxiety and depression - either because you suffer it yourself or because a loved one does, and then there are those who have no experience with it and won't understand a word I've written.  I wish I had answers for how to make that last group "get it" - unfortunately I think a lot of us have been trying to figure that out for a while and we've come up pretty short because we're still being called weak, over-emotional, pretending drama-queens and we get labeled as either crazy people or liars.  

To those of you who have loved ones who suffer and know that the same person who can seem so funny and happy and full of life one day, and then so completely shut-down the next:  please give us patience and a little space.  We know you want to help.  We know you love us.  That makes us feel guilty.  Sometimes the best thing you can do is offer a silent cuddle and order in a pizza.  Sometimes we need to sort things in our own heads before we're able to talk about them.  Ask us if we're ready to talk - don't try to force it out of us.  Provide a safe, calm environment for us, and with a little luck, eventually we'll be able to pull our faces out of our holes and talk about it.  Also... if we do start talking?  Please don't interrupt us.  It turns that safe zone hostile, and may force us back into our caves.

To those of you, my brothers and sisters in the muck that is our disorder... don't let the black dog take over.  FIGHT HIM.  Write down your feelings and remember to spend a little time each day really trying to find reasons to be thankful.  We all have good things going for us, even if they are small and seem completely dwarfed by life gone mad.  When we focus on all those things that stress us out and hurt us and make us sad, we forget about the things that grant us reprieve and give us comfort.  If your cloud has completely taken over and you're ever starting to wonder if the words "I woke up today" aren't something for which you should be grateful, please, PLEASE find someone who can give you a safety net.  If you can't find anyone, email me.  I promise you I won't judge or interrupt or try to "fix" you - but I will listen to you and you'll know that you aren't alone.

It hurts my heart so deeply that apparently no one was able to give Mr. Williams any comfort in his darkest hours.  I wish that somehow, in some way, I'd been able to offer him an alternative to what appears to be taking his own life.   All any of us can do, save those who knew him intimately, is speculate and mourn, but my heart goes out to his family and close friends who are surely struggling to find peace in the wake of his passing.

Please, y'all... be good to yourselves, and be good to others.  It only works if we all do it together. 

"No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world."
-Robin Williams, 1951-2014
As a final note... I want to include a link to one of the most brilliant and funny bloggers in the world, who also battles mental illness.  She wrote about anxiety, depression, sadness, and self-harm in January and her words probably illustrate a lot of what of which I am not able today.