30 January 2013

Nessie And I...

Yes, Nessie The Loch Ness Monster,  and I are on a first name basis, but we will never be BFFs!  Nessie and I have been fighting and it's turning into a no-holds-barred, no-rules-applied, knock-down, dragged-out fight.  As I sit here writing this, it's sounds rather comical and if life were all puppy dogs and rainbows this would actually be comical.  As it is, though, there are times when my own personal 'Nessie' wins no matter how hard I fight it.  No matter how many times I tell myself (and everyone around tells me) that there are so many others who have problems that are way more serious than mine.  Most of the time, this works.  But for someone who battles severe depression, panic attacks and PTSD up close and personal, there are times when that statement only makes things worse. 

Of course I know that I am in a way better place than most people.  Here's the thing, though.  Within that very vivid awareness of those other people... my problems are just not important.  I'm not important.  Sometimes, this statement just says, "I have absolutely no right to the emotions and feelings that I am fighting."  Which is why I do not write when I am in this terrible place.  It is why I do not call when I am in this terrible place.  It is why I seem to disappear off the face of the planet and it is why I don't even leave my house when I am in this terrible place.  What right do I have to complain over something I have no control over?  And do you want to know the worst part of all this?  It's the effect it has on my family.  They hurt for me.  They worry for me.  They have learned that they cannot not count on me when I am here in this terrible place.  Which also makes them question whether they can count on me when I am not in this terrible place.  How do you think that makes me feel right at this moment?

It also has an enormous effect on my friends.  They feel they are just not important enough to me when I don't call.  They feel the burden of friendship with someone who they can't be around because it brings them down.  I don't think they're aware that I know how I effect those around me.  That because I care a great deal for them, I do not want to do that to them?

Shielding everyone I care about from the worst of the effects of depression, panic attacks and flashbacks is the only way I can keep going.  Why would I want to share that much despair and misery?  I hope I never turn into that kind of person.  They hurt and have to deal with enough as it is because of me and this incurable illness.  It's a mythical illness to most people, because they can not see or feel how you bleed inside.  Your wounds are not visible, therefore they are not real to them. 

If I have to battle it out with Nessie, then I would rather drag her to my doctor's office where she can't effect those people who are most important to me.  So yes.  It means they can't count on me when I am away at war, so to speak.  That hurts more than anyone could know, but you want to know what would be worse?  The idea that I would ever bring that war home with me.  No.  This is a battle where only I can see the enemy.  Therefore that enemy is as invisible to everyone else as if it were the Loch Ness Monster (only without the colorful and interesting myths surrounding it)

By the way, this does not mean I am deliberately isolating myself at home with no battle plan in mind... a backup battle plan... and even a backup for the backup battle plan.  It means that I am aware of the need to take care of 'me' so that I can go back to taking care of everyone else.  It is mentally tiring to avoid saying anything negative when I am at this point, so talking with family and friends about anything more important than 'what's for dinner?' becomes very difficult, if not impossible.  Those conversations I save for my therapist.  At least I try to, but there are still times when I can hear myself saying something and cringing in horror inside, but unable to stop the severe diarrhea of the mouth.  I sound bitter, angry, ugly, selfish, and the rest of the negative adjectives Mr. Webster ever published... and a few he probably never even considered.  I decided long ago that when telephone conversations became so stilted and mentally draining by the effort of not just breaking down and crying, it was best not to place the call in the first place.  It's also time to seek more time with the doctor and therapist.The effort to communicate also includes handling the labeling consequences.  The expression on people's faces when, for some reason, I have to explain to them why I am acting like someone just revoked my access to oxygen or I that I have PTSD is almost universal.  Their expressions say, "Oh, my God!  Is she going to go postal?" or "I knew there wasn't something right about her." or "Depression is contagious." If there is one thing I am sure of, it's that I am NOT insane, nor has it ever crossed my mind to hurt anyone (regardless of how irritating they are... although I might make an exception for the person who has been doing the 'snow dance' lately).  As for the "Depression is contagious"?  I'd have to agree with that one.  But it's also true that "Happiness is contagious." 

I think the best way to describe depression and PTSD to give others a frame of reference here is...  depression is like a cold of the mind instead of cold of the body.  If left untreated, it can turn into pneumonia of the mind.  And yes.  Just like this cold bug, untreated, it can eventually kill you.  Even when the worst of the battle is over, just like recuperating from any other severe, physical illness, it takes time to get back on your feet.  I have often wished that I would turn as blue as a Smurf when this hits, so that everyone can see I'm getting sick and then everyone can see when I am better. 

I am so very aware of the effect I have on my family, friends and the world around me, so it's important for me to heal from my invisible illness.  It is why I try to write of good things.  Happy things.  Humorous things.  There is not one person on this flipping planet that does not need something to smile, laugh or feel good about.  It is why I try to go out of my way especially when I am depressed to do something nice for someone else.  It doesn't only make them feel good.  It makes me feel like I can still share a smile, and that if I can do that, then I'm going to be ok.  It might take me a while, but I now know I am going to be ok.

[PS.  Most of my family and friends do not know about my writing outside of this blog, so I'm going to finally  link to a post over at SpouseBUZZ about the "Winter Blues" and depression in general I wrote a while ago.  I included some really great links about what depression IS and what it ISN'T.  And that is really where "Nessie" got her name...(and yes, I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner]

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