Monthly Archives: August 2015

You are crystal.

Hi.  I still have depression and anxiety.

Just so we’re clear on that.

That, my friends, is a fine crystal martini glass (from Restoration Hardware…drool).

People with mental health issues, like myself, are sometimes crystal.  We are sometimes fragile.  We sometimes need to be handled with delicacy and care.

Please take note that I said “sometimes.”  Because, as I mentioned in this delightful gem of a post, depression and anxiety are not an “always” thing for me.  Sometimes, I’m crystal.  Sometimes, I’m Corelle.  Sometimes, I’m just a goddamn paper plate.

Anyway, the point is that many of us with this affliction feel that we have to apologize for our fragility.  It takes a lot to admit to being and feeling fragile.  It still scares me to say “I need help.  I don’t feel well.  I need extra care today.”  And when I do finally say it out loud, I immediately follow it with “I’m sorry.”

Why do we apologize for saying our truth?  Because depression lies.  Depression tells us to feel guilty for being fragile.  It tells us that it’s bad manners to be honest with our people about what’s going on inside our heads and to admit that we need a little help, a little extra care.

Fragility requires no apology.  Don’t we handle crystal with care?  You are crystal, friend.

Cheers.

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What depression looks like.

Hi.  I have depression and anxiety.  I try to be very open about it, because I’m literally sick about the stigmas which surround mental illness.  If you have the flu, and you announce “I have the flu *sad face*,” folks around you commiserate and wish you good health.

If you announce “I have depression,” one of three things happen:

  1. You are ignored (or, alternatively, told to “cheer up,” which is actually the most awful thing to hear when you’re depressed and anxious);
  2. Someone thinks you need immediate placement on suicide watch;
  3. Someone who gets it (probably because they themselves suffer) says “I understand.  I’m sorry.”

Personally, I most often get this response: “But you don’t seem/look depressed!”

I actually understand that.  Movies, television, and other media show depressed people like this:

What depression is supposed to look like.

What depression is “supposed” to look like

If you are depressed, you should be frowning, constantly on the verge of tears or openly weeping, and never, ever, ever smile or laugh.  That’s bullshit, right?  I smile often, I laugh openly and deeply.  I generally have a positive outlook.  My depression is more of a quickly striking melancholy that lasts for hours, sometimes days.  My depression is a heavy weight on my shoulders and my chest, holding me down.  I’m not suicidal, nor have I ever been.  Most folks who suffer from depression don’t want to kill themselves.  The important thing to remember about depression is that it affects everyone differently.  My depression is not the same as yours.

Sometimes, when anxiety strikes me, I look like this:

Grumpy

Grumpy.  And don’t seem to realize that my sunglasses are on my head.

Lots of things make me anxious: clutter, lights that are too bright, too many tasks to accomplish in a short period of time, tight finances, tight spaces, too much activity around me, too much noise (actually, I could probably write an entire dissertation on the various noises and volumes that send me into a rage).  Sometimes, my anxiety causes me to just shut down.  When I’m in shut-down mode, it’s really difficult for me to leave my home, or be anywhere that isn’t home.  If I have to flake out on plans and friends, I feel awful.  Guilty.  Horrible.  Like a bad friend, a shitty human being.  And that almost always triggers a depressive episode.  It’s quite the adventure.

Fuck you, depression.

Fuck you, depression.

I know what helps me: sunshine, being with family and friends, medication, and therapy.  Talking about it has been the most beneficial for me, not just with my therapist, but with anyone who will listen.  I’m still learning about my triggers and what I can do to avoid them.  It’s going to be a lifelong process; I get impatient at times, because I want to be “fixed.”  I’m constantly trying to explain my behavior to those who don’t understand, and that gets really, really frustrating.  It makes me feel like a physics professor, explaining <whatever> to thirty blank faces.

Do you understand, or should I explain it again?

Do you understand, or do I have to explain it again?

Most days, this is how I look:

IMG_0888

With my smiling co-pilot

If you want to know about my depression, ask me.  I’m an open book.  If you need an ear or a shoulder, I’m here (just not too loudly, please).

Cheers.