I’ve tried a few times to write my first blog entry. Each time I’ve ended up scrapping it, or putting it in a “maybe” pile for what I could write about later. Revised, of course. I am very anxious about using names and places, even if I alter them, because I’m afraid that it’ll blow up in my face. One of my favorite writers is David Sedaris, and he uses real names and places in his stories. I’d like to know how to be brave enough to put everyone on blast without worrying about the repercussions.
My main objective with this blog is to provide a source of compassion for those struggling with mental illness. In this age of social media, talking about your diseases, illnesses, disorders, etc. is more common now than ever. I still believe we have a long way to go, as far as acceptance and understanding, as a society.
I have always told others, when it was relevant, that I have been diagnosed with anxiety and depression. The anxiety is really focused on fear and insecurity. The depression is a lot of self-pity with violent interruptions of numbness. I have seen time and time again that most people really don’t understand mental disorders. I have been asked, “What do you have to be depressed about?”; “Why are you so anxious, everything is fine.”; “Aren’t those medications temporary?”. Most of the time it’s a matter of naivety, because they simply aren’t aware that a mental illness is literally that; an illness of the mind. The brain can malfunction, on a chemical level, and cause harm to your health. It rips away your control, causes you to lash out, make bad decisions, seek out pain just to feel something different, or to feel anything at all. Sometimes depression is temporary because of a traumatic event. Sometimes it’s seasonal. Sometimes it is a permanent issue that requires medication, just like schizophrenia or heart disease. It is no different. Some of us cannot simply “get happy”.
With that in mind, I will be writing about my difficulties in a very open, honest way, at the risk of ya’ll thinking I’m gross and insane. Because I think it’s important that everyone knows that it’s okay if you’re having a hard time. I am too. And so are millions of others. It’s okay that you can’t clean your house. It’s okay that you can’t shower. It’s okay if you can’t find joy in anything. Others are feeling that too. And you know what? It will pass.
I was diagnosed with depression at ten years old. My family and I moved houses, same general area, but I did have to switch schools. My elementary school was really tucked away in the woods, and was a “woodsy” sort of school itself. Our mascot was a bear, the building was mostly wooden posts and wall panels. A lot of brown. And don’t get me wrong, I like brown, I like wood, I love the forest; for some reason though, every morning for the first few months, I would put my head down on my desk and sob, silently, into my crossed arms. Every day the teacher would turn on the overhead projector, with it’s yellow-brown light, and we would work on some kind of little grammar question or a short essay. It was called “LOD” or something like that, “lesson of the day”. I can’t remember now. I was always a really smart kid. I always got good grades, although most of my report cards had some form of the words “social butterfly” in red pen. I really did like making friends. So anyway, I was usually finished with my LOD early, so I had a nice 10 minutes or so to just cry. The lights in the classroom were off except for the projector, and other kids also put their heads down when they were done, to sleep or pick their nose, I’m sure. Maybe also to cry. I never asked.
So one day my teacher finally notices that I’m crying, and asks what’s wrong. I tell him “Nothing. I don’t know.” Because I didn’t. He sent me to the nurse’s office, and she questioned me as well. No, I don’t know what’s wrong. No, I’m not upset about anything. No, nothing was wrong at home. In those days most adults didn’t carry cell phones, so she grabbed the landline phone with the big chunky square buttons and dialed my parents. After giving my mom a brief rundown of the situation, she handed me the phone. My mom asked me the same kind of questions, my third time through now, and asked if I was okay and if I could make it through the school day. I was too tired at this point, and confused, and actually pretty annoyed because I didn’t want all the fuss, to tell her that it lasted about 10 minutes and then I was fine the rest of the day. I said yes, and when I got home that day, my mom and dad both sat down with me and asked me about the crying.
I started seeing a counselor whose office was near our old house. She always had a million Zoobooks and Highlights magazines in the waiting room. I don’t remember specifically what happened during my sessions with her, but I do remember that she asked me a lot of questions about my parents, and we stopped seeing her because she was really focused on them, when honestly, they weren’t the problem. I’ve never gone back to a therapist. Not on purpose really, just…it’s really overwhelming. It is daunting to decide to indulge everything to a total stranger, and have no idea what they’ll say in return. It’s like being hypnotized and having no idea what the hypnotist will do while you’re under. Or maybe I put too much stock in therapy.
My anxiety was diagnosed at 21. I was having daily panic attacks. Bawling and screaming about anything and everything. Saying horrible, mean things to my boyfriend (now husband). The two of us figured out that if I am having an attack and I can’t breathe, he could cradle me in his lap and hold me tight until I calmed down. It still applies today. But eventually we realized he shouldn’t have to do that everyday, and it was time to see a doctor for treatment.
My husband is an absolute saint. His patience and understanding, and unconditional love, has been a golden anchor in my dark sea of insanity.
I want to quickly address the meaning of my blog title. My life has been a series of extremely unfortunate events, amazing experiences, people, beauty, love, and humor. Almost always, even in the midst of those terrible events, something ironic and/or hilarious will occur, and I try to always embrace it. Morbid humor is a huge part of my coping mechanism, and I need to fuel that fire as often as possible. Because life is funny; life is awful; I have to find a connection between those, twist them together like a soft pretzel, and dip that in cheese sauce. So please come read about the soft pretzel that is my life, break off a piece for yourself, and share my cheese with me.
Side note: I would like to thank Miranda for my illustrated portrait, and honestly most other portraits of myself, because they’re usually from her camera. She has an awesome blog that is wholesome, positive, and interesting. Give her a follow so that when I bum you out, you can hop on over there and feel the warmth of happiness again. 🙂