Well, today ended up being both rewarding and difficult all bundled together in a big, messy, wonderful and awful ball. I had a discussion with one of my closest friends that has since left me thinking and feeling.
Before I begin, I feel like I have to say some things.
1. The friend with whom I spoke today is a wonderful friend. She and I have this agreement where we’re just honest with each other. Our friendship has been through some weirdness but we’ve gotten really close in the last year. I appreciate her tons. She keeps me sane and compliments that sanity frequently. I wouldn’t have come as far as I have this past year were it not for many of my friends, and she’s definitely at the top of that list.
2. I have depression and anxiety. “You and 20 million others,” you’re probably thinking. And you’re right, or close at least. About 21 million Americans have a mood disorder, actually. Maybe some of you are even thinking, “Me too.” And yes, you might, too. It sucks doesn’t it?
Depression and anxiety are nasty, vile, and crude creatures. A lot of the memories I have involve some piece of my depression or anxiety. My life is consumed with it. Every day I think about my mood, how it is affecting me, and how it affecting others. I worry… about everything. No really, everything. I worry that my kids, Trent in particular, might turn out like me. I hate that it is really possible. And I hate that my kids, family, and friends have had to deal with me like this. I hate it more for them than I do for myself.
All my life I’ve been consumed by these creatures. The dark, heavy, swollen, black cloud of depression. The bristling fur-matted beast of anger. A repetetive and pestering nit-picking anxiousness. And a confetti-and-candy-filled pinata of mania that makes me want to vomit with disgusting, giddy laughter. Yeah… I know these things sound dramatic, and they are. The drama is part of it. They’re also all really real feelings for me. A buddy of mine accurately mentioned recently that the depression is terrible, but what’s almost worse is the mania, knowing that you’re just going to plummet right back down from the high that feels so disgustingly good, too good to be true (because it is).
I’m really ashamed of who I am sometimes. Most particularly of who I’ve been in the past. I’m embarassed that who I am is because of who I’ve been. I’ve yelled and screamed and shrieked at people I love. My friends, my parents, my sister, Nate. My kids. All my life I’ve just wanted people to like me. I just want to be desired in every way. I tell my friends I love them and I want to hear it back. I tell my parents and sister that they amaze me and I want to hear it back. I thank strangers in the store for ringing up my groceries or for reaching something that my 5-foot height just can’t… and I want these strangers to like me. I want my coworkers to think I’m amazing. I want my husband to think I’m perfect. Doesn’t everyone want these things? When I don’t get these egocentric confidence boosters I feel like I’ve done something wrong. When a friend is mad at me I feel like the world is over. When a coworker is annoyed at me I wonder if I’m really cut out to do my job. When my kids don’t want to kiss and hug me I wonder if that time I yelled at them was the last straw and if they just can’t take me anymore. I don’t blame them.
My wonderful, amazing, positive and inspiring friend today told me that she was proud of me. That I’d come a long way in improving myself, in being able to resolve conflicts and not bottle things up until I explode in a childish rage. Of course she didn’t use those words; she simply said she was proud of the personal improvements I’d made. But in my head I pictured the disgust she’s probably felt about me in the past, and then I became disgusted myself.
I can remember being pregnant with Atticus and just feeling tired all the time. I woke up late and would get my poor Trent up in a hurry. He is a bear to wake up and I wouldn’t give him time. I wasn’t patient with him. “Hurry up! Why am I always waiting on you?!” I’d yell at my angel-faced, innocent 2 1/2 year old. I once worked myself up so much over him that I went outside to calm down and just threw up. It’s disgusting to recall. I remember hold newborn Atticus in my arms on my couch in the living room, Trent running around and playing and Nate hard at work at his job. I would just stare down at this gorgeous golden-haired petite baby nursing for dear life, depending on me to survive. And I hated myself. I wanted to die. I was terrified that he would grow and become smarter and see my rotten side and hate me as much as I hated myself. Nate would be short with me and I was sure it was because he wanted to leave me and my kids and the family we had together. I’d pick at the dry skin on my arm and just convince myself that my whole arm was dry skin and I’d just pick and pick until my whole upper arm was blotched and red and scabby. Everything that was anything was magnified 1,000x to me. But I kept going because I couldn’t abandon the boys that needed me, particularly the one who literally needed my nourishment to survive. So I kept going and asked my obstetrician for some meds. I’ve been on a variety of antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications throughout my life but I typically stop taking them after awhile, because frankly I don’t want to take anything just to be tolerable for other people. Even if it makes me more tolerant of myself, too. It just doesn’t seem fair.
So now I once again wonder if my family or friends would still love me if I wasn’t medicated. It sucks to know that you’re fairly intolerable if you aren’t ingesting some chemical substance. It scares me to think that my amazing creation, Trent, might head down this sickening spiral, too. I worry about it all the time. I hate it for myself and I don’t want it for him.
I’m happy I’m in a better place now than I was a year ago, don’t get me wrong. I just wish it wasn’t so difficult and that I didn’t worry so much. I wish that I didn’t care that my readers might roll their eyes at this post. I wish that the feels weren’t so deeply feely.