Less Lonely Now

November 21st, 2014

First of all, a warm and heartfelt thank you to everyone who reached out to me in some way–comments, emails, messages, tweets, phone calls, quick visits etc–after I posted my last blog. Whether you were just checking in to see how I was doing or sharing a story of your own struggles, you made me feel less alone and very loved.

Secondly, an update: I’m doing better, due to a combination of exercise, therapy, and, yes, the miracle of modern science in the form of an SSRI that seems to be successfully slowing down the gut and brain churning. (Unfortunately at a cost of insomniac nights and dry mouth–anyone else deal with those and have advice?) I’m not exactly dancing in the streets and my heart speeds up unexpectedly at the slightest bit of tension and I’m fiddling with dosages, and I’m not getting any writing done, but still . . . being better is better than not being better, I always say. (I’ve actually never said that before, but it’s hard to argue with, isn’t it? I love a good tautology.)

One thing that struck me after the last post is how many people told me I was “brave” to write publicly about my anxiety and depression. I honestly don’t think I deserve praise for that (although I’m grateful for the generous thoughts that prompted the praise). I’ve never had a problem being honest about things that I don’t feel ashamed of or guilty about, and I’m not ashamed that I’ve been dealing with depression and anxiety. I believe there’s an underlying physical and chemical reason for it–albeit a complicated one–and so I don’t think I should feel any more ashamed of my emotional distress than my son should for having Celiac Disease.

But I know other people don’t feel that way, that it’s hard for them to talk about feeling weak and helpless. Sometimes there are practical reasons not to want to tell the world what’s going on–you have a job at a place where they might question your ability to get your work done if you admit to emotional distress. Or you come from the kind of family that isn’t comfortable with showing the world anything less than a perfect exterior. Or maybe you just want people to see you as focused and successful, and admitting to depression or anxiety will work against that. Or you’re genuinely the strong, silent type: you can take care of yourself and your family, and you don’t need other people’s sympathy, pity, or help.

I totally get all of that and know that it’s a luxury to be able to speak freely. I’m a mouth flapper. It helps me to talk or write about stuff. I mean, sometimes I’m too deep in the hole to communicate, but that’s rare. Most of the time, I’m in over-share mode. It helps me to talk things out. My friends give me good advice, my family gives me love (they don’t mind my talking–they worry about my silences), and my new acquaintances can decide if they want to share right back or quietly edge away from me. Anyone who thinks less of me for being honest about the crap life dishes out isn’t going to be someone I’ll want to be close to anyway.

So, again, thank you for all the support and kindness and stories and affection. Writing that post was the best step I took toward feeling better. Which means it wasn’t brave–just smart.

Finally, there’s a video going around that most of you have probably already seen, showing a dog obedience lesson. The owners call to their dogs from the opposite end of a floor mat that’s lined with dog treats, toys, chews, etc. The first few dogs trot straight to their owners, ignoring the bounty, but there’s one golden retriever who just bounds delightedly all over the mat, checking out every single item, sniffing, eating, chewing, destroying and just having the best time ever.

photo-49

This is my real life dog Harvey. He’s getting a little old but he’ll still detour for food any time, any place.

That dog is my hero and my inspiration. Someday I want to feel that kind of exuberance and delight and dedicate myself to enjoying things simply because I  can. That golden retriever reminds me what I’m working toward as I try to make myself healthy again. Here’s to going off the beaten path to crunch some liver treats!

 

 

 

  • celadman says:

    Claire, thank you for this. Shame on your son for having Celiac.

    Reading this, I noted how judgmental I can be about people not opening up. Even though I dislike posturing, everyone’s entitled to his/her way. So, that’s an unpleasant characteristic of mine, glaring.

    Meds can take awhile to find the best course. I know. Irritating. I would suggest keeping in touch with your doctor to let him/her know what your symptoms are. Sleep is really important. I have some troubles with that, and I am finding that some things are helping a little. But, it’s still an issue. (I just fell asleep in therapy)!

    Always good to hear about someone one else’s – your – journey.

    Love,

    Cathy

  • celadman says:

    Claire, thank you for this. Shame on your son for having Celiac.

    Reading this, I noted how judgmental I can be about people not opening up. Even though I dislike posturing, everyone’s entitled to his/her way. So, that’s an unpleasant characteristic of mine, glaring.

    Meds can take awhile to find the best course. I know. Irritating. I would suggest keeping in touch with your doctor to let him/her know what your symptoms are. Sleep is really important. I have some troubles with that, and I am finding that some things are helping a little. But, it’s still an issue. (I just fell asleep in therapy)!

    Always good to hear about someone one else’s – your – journey.

    Love,

    Cathy

  • Sarah Emsley says:

    I’m so glad to hear that you’re starting to feel better, and I hope it won’t be long before you feel that exuberance and delight.

  • Deb Z. says:

    Great to hear that you are feeling better. I’m sure you know there are a variety of SSRI’s and sometimes it takes trials with more than one to figure out what works best for you. Two of my kids started on prozac, but found over time that different meds worked better for them (zoloft for one, celexa for the other). I hope things continue to get better for you. Selfishly, I hope you’re writing again soon! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  • Jen Connelly says:

    I’m so glad you’re feeling better, Claire. I’ve been having a pretty rough week myself. Trying to figure out meds is probably one of the most frustrating aspects of mental illness. Mine were recently changed because they weren’t working, but the change doesn’t seem to be helping much. It makes you want to just give up sometimes.

    I don’t open up as much on Facebook because my extended family are on my friends’ list, but on my blog I speak more freely about being bipolar. It’s my way of trying to eliminate the stigma.

    I hope things keep getting better. *hugs*

    • Claire says:

      One of the best graphic books I’ve read is Marbles by Ellen Forney, which is about her bipolar diagnosis. What’s fascinating about it is that a good half of the book or more is just about her and her doctor’s attempts to get her medication just right. You wouldn’t think adjusting medications would make for an exciting story but it DOES. Maybe because it’s so relatable. Good luck, Jen! Hugs right back to you.

      • Jen Connelly says:

        I can’t say adjusting my medications was very exciting, but it was an adventure for me. Just not a very fun one. I’d been working with my doctor for almost two year to get my depression under control, and about all I could say was I was no longer suicidal. I guess that was something.

        Then we figured out I had bipolar. The switch in meds made a huge difference. It was like a light flipping on. I guess that part has been more fun. If only I’d had a correct diagnosis when I was younger, maybe my life wouldn’t have sucked so much. I missed out on most of it. Bipolar II (hypomanic) is often confused with clinical depression because the highs aren’t so bad. I called them my “good days” without knowing what they really were.

    • celadman says:

      Thanks for sharing here, Jen Connelly. It’s freeing to let go of our secrets. – Cathy

      • Jen Connelly says:

        I still have a hard time being completely open in places where my family might see what I write. It’s not even that they wouldn’t understand, because many of them suffer from mental illnesses, but it’s like I don’t want to ruin their picture of me. They know I have bipolar, but I don’t think they know how crazy I really am. I’ve hidden it for so long, it’s hard to come out.

        • Claire says:

          I’m no expert in any of this, but I do think you should think of it as being ill and not crazy, Jen. You need medicine just the way anyone who’s sick does. You might like this book Marbles–I really admired it.

          • Jen Connelly says:

            I probably should have qualified that the “crazy” thing is something I’ve embraced in a humorous way. I often feel crazy because of the way my brain works and my thoughts. It’s the way I deal with things, I guess.

            Of course I know it’s an illness. I get so tired of people saying bipolar is made up or that the medications we take are what is making us “sick.” I’ll just keep taking my meds that made me feel normal for the first time in my life.

            Crazy is just the term I use to poke fun at myself and my life.

        • celadman says:

          I think we have no control over what others think of us. It’s not my business. Knowing that takes the pressure off.

          And I second what Claire said about “crazy” and “ill.” “Crazy” connotes a pejorative evaluation of the condition. It’s just an illness that needs treating. Tada!

          • Jen Connelly says:

            See my reply above.

            Crazy is just a word and it doesn’t bother me. I only found out recently that people consider it highly offensive. I just find it funny–it’s how I feel most of the time, and the only way I can deal is to laugh at it. Not sure I can actually explain it, though. I have a really bad migraine right now.

          • Claire says:

            I’m so sorry about the migraine. Ugh. I get those too. I go blind for a few minutes before each one–it’s very unnerving. Please take care of yourself. And I know what you mean about poking fun at yourself. I talk about what a mess my family is all the time–and I adore every member in it.

          • Anonymous says:

            Jen, I get what you’re saying about making fun of it all. I do. And, all of a sudden, it’s the Migraine Club here. Uch. The worst. Hope you feel better soon.

          • Jen Connelly says:

            I’ve been getting more and more migraines lately. Too much time in front of the computer I think. My eyes are sensitive to light and staring at a bright screen sets them off. At least that’s my best guess. That’s beside the eye strain. Going out into the sunshine gives me a monster headache–I have to wear shades on cloudy days.

Comments are closed.

© Claire LaZebnik 2017. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. DESIGNED BY MAX LAZEBNIK