how to reappear.

Monday, August 03, 2015

how-to-disappear-book
I never thought that I'd feel depression. Or anxiety. Or jealousy-- these emotions, I personally never understood how any of them lasted so long for other people, or how heavy they truly were. You're not happy? Well, then go do something that makes you happy! You're afraid? Well, face it, go forward! You'll survive, pinky swear-- it's all a bluff! Jealous? Of what? If you can't trust your significant other, then why are you with them? It all makes sense in one's head--the easy fixes, the logic-- when you're not experiencing them yourself.

When I'd finally stopped writing for this blog in November of last year, I had reached the peak of my full fledged, year and a half-long internal, secretive battle with depression. For someone who lived for honesty and putting their life on display to help others, I'd come to a point where all I wanted to do was lay in bed and avoid it. The guilt of running away from the world (& this blog) bothered me, but the power of depression was stronger-- and running away only added fuel to the fire.

Whenever the idea of talking to someone about my "funk" came up, I'd tell myself, "I'm strong, I can deal with this without help. I've helped everyone else-- I can do this!" And so I tried and tried and only found myself going farther and farther away from the people and things that I loved. I started having panic attacks at work, temper tantrums when I got home, and felt weird around even my closest friends. All I kept thinking as we would hang out was, "am I too quiet? Do they think I'm being weird? Am I being weird?" I felt weird, was it written on my face for everyone to see?

As time went on, anxiety and anger became the two rulers of my world-- I'd freak out internally over the smallest problems at work or with friends and then come home and take it out on Frank (an admission I'm ashamed to admit). I'd spend time with my friends internally freaking out that because of my weirdness, that they'd realize that I was a crappy friend and get rid of me altogether. Over time I became the antithesis of myself-- miserable, jealous, angry, perpetually negative-- a ticking time bomb on its final 10 seconds. I never felt rested, I never wanted to go out, my hygiene went to hell and I couldn't concentrate on anything. I would have to listen to Enya before meetings or chew gum to calm myself down because my heart rate would go so high that I felt like I was going to die--no matter what the situation was. I could cry at the drop of a hat and couldn't remember, for the life of me, the things that I liked to do. Suddenly I felt strange in my own body and absolutely nothing in my world made any sense anymore.
emotions
Eventually,  I just kind of existed-- somewhere on the edge of anxiety, fear, and failure; all I felt was that at any moment my entire world would collapse and there was nothing that I could do to stop it. I was off of my game at every point in my life; every day was a new mistake, a new mess up, a new self fulfilling prophecy that I was a total failure.

After being overly frustrated one Sunday over something I'm sure was trivial (so much that I don't even remember what it was), I headed to one of my old favorite places to reflect: the local library. I poured out my soul into my journal on how upset I was that X, Y, and Z were making me feel inadequate and crazy.
And then, it all kind of hit me. The true honest feelings that I didn't have about this and that, but about myself. Somewhere along the way, I stopped fighting for me and started running. And I was still running, but I'd gotten so far away that I didn't even know which direction to go in anymore or who I was. My problem was that in a world where I could be anything, I was choosing-- yes, choosing-- to be nothing. When was the last time I was happy? Smiled? Didn't have permanent resting bitchface? Wasn't completely cynical or felt content with even just myself? Who the hell was I? I felt absolutely ugly inside and out.
And then the floodgates opened up and it hit me: all of my anger and anxiety and unhappiness was not from anyone else-- it was from me, this blame game I was playing was a total cover.

My blubbering mess of a self finally fessed up and caved-- I knew what I needed to do. Right there, on the library bench, I wiped away my tears, called my general physician and made an appointment. For the first time ever, I-- lion, cheerleader, warrior, problem-solver, and well-known rescuer-- was putting out an S.O.S all my own. After a year and a half on an island all by myself, I was ready to return to civilization.

Over the past few months since I've gotten help, I've totally come out of the darkness. It was as though I'd woken up from a nightmare-- over time, it becomes harder and harder to remember what I felt like when I was immersed in it. While my medication isn't rebuilding me back into who I used to be before the dark cloud of depression made its way into my life, it's definitely making the new me into a better me. I smile, I sleep, I cheer on unhappy coworkers, I get excited about things, and love things again. I saw the movie 'Inside Out' three times because I loved it so much, I baked a cake, I organized a gift for one of my amazing coworkers that was leaving and ran around the city and loved every single, sweaty NYC second of putting it all together. I can concentrate, my to-do list gets shorter (most days), and the only adrenaline rush that my body gets is when I'm super excited-- another amazing feeling I never thought I'd have again. The daily fear that everyone and everything would leave me has disappeared like a cloud of smoke and, suddenly-- as strange as this may sound coming from an adult-- the world doesn't seem so scary anymore.

And don't get me wrong-- it wasn't a magical pill that thrust me Matrix-style into a whole new, sunshine-y world in an instant-- it took time getting used to it all. And I'm still getting used to it-- being happy, being a person again on the inside; I'd felt like such a monster for so long, I never thought I'd know what that felt like again.

These days I'm getting used to a new kind of normal. The kind where that moment of silence when you're out with your friends isn't filled in by your brain telling you that you have nothing to contribute, you useless weirdo. One where going out isn't as painful and, ugh, what do I say? Where tears aren't always on the horizon for absolutely no reason at all (tear jerker commercials no longer cause me to full-on cry my eyes out-- thank GOD). And where my relationship was the way it always was: me and him against the world, not me against him against the world. I've even started building some amazing relationships with my family-- and I won't lie, it's pretty fantastic.

Life is good. And even when it's not so good-- like when it's crazy and clients are insane and my to-do list is 12 pages long and everyone is calling and angry and in a bad, gross mood-- there I am, sticks in hand, plates all spinning with a smile on my face, joking, laughing, and even sometimes singing. Hello again, silver lining, it's good to see you again.

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For someone who minored in Psychology and was an advocate for getting help (medicated or otherwise), it sure took me a long time to do it myself-- and even then, the stigma of being a "person on medication" or needing it to "function" frightened me. In my case, it wasn't so much about being crazy, as it was about looking weak (ah, ego). But at the end of the day, what people think of me and my strength is not my problem-- the only thing that is my problem is my happiness and how I feel inside. There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting help or reaching out for an extra hand when you need it-- especially if you're the person that never asks for it-- a fact I would have never realized had I not gotten help.

If you or someone you know is depressed or experiencing any of the signs above, please reach out or support them in getting help-- whether it's talking to a counselor, physician, or friend (I didn't tell anyone when I went in to see my physician and only had to let the receptionist know that it was a sick visit). 
The Crisis Hotline, an anonymous call center, is also available for support 24/7 via text (Text "ANSWER" to 839863) or phone [1(775) 784-8090].

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