Stop Dis-counting Me

I’ve been depressed for a long time.

I HAVE depression. It doesn’t just go away magickally, by itself.

Add my Generalized Anxiety Disorder into the mix, and it’s really a hot mess on the bad days.

And, I get it, it’s uncomfortable.

It’s difficult to talk about, especially when you don’t understand it, when you’ve never been through it yourself.

It’s not just being sad.

It’s not just being down today, because you have [insert legitimate reason here – breakup, funeral, bad grade, bad hair, flat tire] going on.

It’s not just a random feeling, one day, of anxiousness, or panic, because you have something big coming up.

This is ALL DAY. EVERY DAY. For weeks, months…..years…

I get it.

It’s hard to be around someone who has trouble enjoying life.

It’s hard being around someone who doesn’t socialize much, or at all, really.

It’s hard to be around someone who is always down on herself, uses self-deprecating jokes as a shield, and who is usually too tired to do all the really fun stuff.

It’s hard to be around someone who is quiet, most of the time, because she’s living so much in her own head. Mainly because that’s where she socializes. Because everyone else has already left to find the “interesting” people.

It’s hard to be around someone who wants to go home early, because she’s been watching everyone else enjoying themselves, out with their dates/spouses/S.O.’s, and is now on the verge of an internal meltdown, but doesn’t want anyone else to know – so she smiles tightly, says “Nope! Just tired/ gotta go home & feed the cats / do the laundry /” whatever reason gets her out quickest.

So you just stop asking her to go places.

You stop inviting her anywhere.

Because it’s uncomfortable.

I get it.

Even though, when you’re the one that’s having problems, I’m always there. Willing to lend a confidential ear, a shoulder, a tissue.

But that’s ok. I don’t keep score.

Because I know what pain feels like, I don’t want anyone else to have to experience it.

Because I know the crush of depression, I don’t want anyone else to have to live under it.

Because I know the constant dread of anxiety, I don’t want anyone else to have to fear it.

Just – stop dis-counting me.

I matter.

I’m not invisible.

And my feelings get hurt too. No matter what I might say in the moment.

Last weekend, OnlySon & I were arguing about addictions & video games, but something I said to him has stuck.

“Gaming addictions, drug addiction, alcoholism, Depression, Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, you name it, they’re ALL chemical imbalances that cause physical and mental problems.

JUST LIKE DIABETES.

No one blames a diabetic for BEING diabetic.

Why do people blame someone with Depression for being Depressed??

I take my medications, but they don’t work perfectly. They don’t magically stop me from being depressed, or anxious.

They do stop me from being tense all the time, grinding my teeth in my sleep, oh – and they’ve stopped me from killing myself.

It’s the little things.

We, as a society, need to STOP dis-counting mental illnesses, and the people who have them.

They need to be seen as just as valid as diabetes, hypertension, etc. They are all medical conditions. They should all be treated as such.

Stop treating me as less than.

And maybe, just maybe, I’d stop seeing myself that way.

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And there are days when I just want to lay down, and not get back up again.

But I do, because I have to. Because that’s who I am.

But, I don’t want to.

Do you understand yet?

Nopevember 2018

I was quiet all month about my Nopevember curse, hoping it would pass me by this year.

Annnnd… No such luck.

This month has ended in its typical crash, the way it has for the last 10 years.

Every. Damn. Year.

Something happens.

A deer smashes into our vehicle, or there’s an unholy, knock-down, drag-out fight with my brother, or my daughter crashes her car (black ice, NOT her fault), or, well, a mixture of awful things that culminate in totally fucking up the month.

This year?

I spent Thanksgiving week trying to help my son deal with severe anxiety and panic attacks. And spent an afternoon in the ER with him the day before the holiday, making sure he was safe, and not spiraling out of control, due to a bad reaction to his meds.

When he called me that morning, I was at work, & luckily had my cell phone ON me, instead of charging, so I was able to take the call right away.

This kid doesn’t call me for shit.

He hates talking on the phone. Period. But, he called & begged me to take him to the ER, because he couldn’t take it anymore.

Now, I have this weird thing that happens in my brain when there’s an emergency.

I call it my “ER Nurse Gene”.

See, my grandmother was an RN for many years, and my Mom was an EMT, and an LPN, at different times, and for many years, as well.

I’ve had a lot of exposure to the medical field in my life, both growing up, and as an adult.

Mom brushes this aside & says it’s not a “real thing”, but even she’s seen it in action with me, & can’t truly explain what happens.

You see, when there’s an emergency…

Something clicks inside my brain, and suddenly… Everything gets very, very clear.

Like, my vision is suddenly crystal clear, & I can see everything going on. I am hyper focused and can triage with the best of them. My senses are all heightened, my mind has a clarity to it that – even I don’t truly understand, once the whole ordeal is over.

Whatever it is, I knew exactly what I needed to do, where I needed to go, just what to say.

My son wasn’t able to focus well enough to answer many questions for the nurses and doctors, due to the medications side effects he was experiencing, so I asked him if it was ok for me to answer for him. He nodded, so I did.

We were lucky, we got right into a room in the ER, & were seen in a relatively short period. All in all, we were only there for about 3.5 hours, which is fairly quick for our ER.

OnlySon got some help, even if it wasn’t exactly what we were hoping for, more of a stop-gap measure until he can get into his regular doc. But it was at least better than what he was going through before.

And, I talked to my ex, his father, & tried to explain that, yes, OnlySon’s anxiety & depression are mental illnesses, but, they are also –

Physical, chemical imbalances.

They are physical disorders as well as mental, and need to be thought of in that way.

It is a chemical imbalance, that can cause, will cause, mental instability, if it is not properly balanced.

That just like Diabetes, this is something lifelong, to be treated and lived with, not something to be hidden or ashamed of.

He grumbled at me a bit, told me, jealously, how “He talks to you about this, he doesn’t want to talk to me”.

And I told him, that, OnlySon knows that I live with anxiety and depression too. That I understand so much of what he’s going through, and that, unless you live it, unless you’ve been through it, it’s really difficult to explain to someone looking in from the outside.

And, when the day was over, after I’d take OnlySon home & finished my workday, I drove home…

And shook.

Every ounce of adrenaline that I’d been running on all day, rushed out of my body at once.

Thanksgiving with my parents was – an exercise in acting normal.

I wore the mask for their sake, and for Youngerdaughter, who came down to stay.

But, the rest of the weekend was a total bust.

I basically collapsed inward.

I didn’t want to see anyone, didn’t want to talk to anyone, didn’t want to interact with the outside world at all.

That’s the price.

I could never have been a nurse, emergency room or otherwise.

I couldn’t afford the cost of what happens afterwards.

Days in a black hole…

Nopevember.

I’m so done with this month.

Hindsight is 20/20 – squinting – pt. 3

~Don’t seek healing at the feet of those who broke you.

I can’t remember who wrote this, but it really resonated with me this week.

I even wrote it on my desk calendar, so I could look at it every day, and remind myself of those words, practice the mantra, so to speak.

I need to stop kneeling at the feet of those who have hurt me in the past, seeking resolution, consolation, closure, or healing.

I do it way too often.

You see, I used to be the one doing the breaking, so when I crashed at the end, and had to change the way I did things, I really did change.

Except, sometimes, I go too far the other direction.

I’ve had many people tell me I’m too nice, too forgiving.

But – I’m getting ahead of my own story, here.

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that the summer of 1990 was just a slow roll towards suicide on my part.

It wasn’t.

I had a blast getting into as much trouble as humanly possible, in the short amount of time I had, and in the limited ways I could. (as in, no drugs, no extreme sports – cause HELLO, I SUCK AT SPORTS)

But – it WAS a spiral headed south, and straight into a wall. Somewhere in the back of my primitive id brain I knew this. I wasn’t stupid. I couldn’t see a future for myself, and I was, oddly… wanting to tromp down harder on the gas pedal, for some reason. Get there faster, & you waste less gas?

Well, my parents weren’t having it.

They clamped down on me, & told me to either “find a job, or you’re headed for the military”.

Yep. No shit.

So – I hit the papers, and found want ads – for nannies. People in other states wanted nannies from North Dakota to fly to their homes to take care of their kids, because they thought ND kids made better nannies, for some reasons. And I – wanted the fuck out. Out of North Dakota. Out of my current life, out from under my parents’ rules, you know… Typical young self-destructive type behavior.

Fast forward a few phone calls, and I’d found a family in New Jersey, who had 2 kids, both adopted, and they wanted me right away.

Off I went.

Everyone has baggage.

But Delta had no idea I had TWO carry-ons with me instead of just the one they saw.

You see, I’d been a horrible girlfriend to the boyfriend I fell for…

And I’d run around and used sex to feel good about myself.

I’d thought I was just malnourished, from not eating well, smoking & drinking a lot over the summer, subsisting on sunflower seeds & beef jerky most of the time.

I didn’t realize I had a growing reason for missing my period.

Until the morning I puked for no reason.

Well, there was a reason, I just didn’t want to know it, or admit it, really.

Shit.

*sigh*

On my day off, I ran an errand to the drug store & bought myself a stick test to pee on.

Damn thing practically turned blue in my hand before I got it open.

Hell.

So, on my next day off… I went down to the local women’s free clinic & got tested there. Positive again.

And a courtesy “talk” with a counselor, who gently went through all my options with me, asking me delicately if I was… Possibly…maybe…could I be…considering…abor.. ??

“NO.” I was most emphatic, and a huge, truck-load sized weight seemed to lift from the counselor’s shoulders.

“Oh, thank goodness!”, she was so relieved, I thought she was going to hug me, which would have been awkward, and extremely uncomfortable for us both, I think.

Then, she wanted to discuss adoption, & I shut her down on that, too.

Nope.

I thanked her politely, and told her that, in no uncertain terms, I was going home, I was going to have my baby, and I was going to raise it myself.

This was mine, and no one was taking it from me.

It was time to fucking grow up.

My baby needed me. And needed me to be an ADULT. I was going to be a mommy, and I’d be damned if anyone was taking that from me.

Now, I needed to figure out how to do that.

I wasn’t even old enough to drink legally, yet.

But I was damned well going to figure this out.

For once, it wasn’t about what I needed.

It was about what someone else needed from me. Someone who didn’t have anyone else, and needed me first, most, and who I could love without reservations or limits or embarrassment. I could give this baby everything I was, and it wouldn’t betray me, because I would be its mommy.

This baby was going to love me, because I was going to love him or her so hard, there’d be no reason not to.

Shockwave

* Possible Trigger Warning ⚠

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My mother was at my desk today, when I got back to work after my lunch break.

I wasn’t expecting her, she hadn’t called me to say she was coming into town, which would’ve been fine…

Except she had someone with her.

Her best friend.

A woman I used to consider my second mom.

Who is also the mother of the boy, now man, who molested me when I was 16.

You – have no idea – what happens inside, when you’re confronted unexpectedly by one of the people who traumatized you so badly as a teenager.

Yes, she traumatized me.

How?

By forcing me to confront her son immediately, as in within minutes of the attack, by not listening to me, by not believing me, by forcing me to listen to her speak about her son time after time over the years, trying to show me PHOTOS of him! Fuck!

And yet, I’m not allowed to say anything about it. I’m not allowed to bring it up, to say NO, when my mother does these things.

I loved this woman as another mother, & still care about her, because she’s my mom’s best friend.

But – they both hurt me, so much, 32 years ago, and they have continued to scrape open the wounds over the years, callously, because they refuse to acknowledge the damage that was originally done, and the damage they’re doing now.

I’ve got PTSD from the original experience, not just the molestation, but the way it was mishandled by his parents, and by my own.

No one wanted to believe me.

Everyone wanted to think I was either simply “having a nightmare” and being overly teen dramatic, or just flat-out lying.

There were times I wanted to fucking kill myself, because everyone called me a liar, and the inside of my head was so dark and hopeless.

There was a whole summer where I basically was driving myself off a metaphorical cliff, because I didn’t think my life was worth anything.

My parents thought I was on drugs.

Ha. I’ve never taken anything that wasn’t prescribed to me or over-the-counter, and I’ve never taken more than the prescribed dosages.

But what was the use of telling them the real problem, when they wouldn’t hear me? When – if I tried to talk to them, they shut me down, refused to hear it, and walked away?

There’s been so much in the news and on social media lately about why victims of abuse don’t report.

This is mine.

Because – when I told the truth at 16, I was called a liar by the people I trusted to keep me safe, so why would I trust anyone else to help me?

Maybe, just maybe, this is why I have so many issues with asking for help in any way, shape of form, from anyone, about anything?

Because when it really, really mattered…

I was left out in the cold – alone and hurting and vulnerable.

I made it through the rest of the afternoon at work.

Goddess only knows how.

I’m good at stuffing my feelings down.

But I cried all the way home.