Celebrate Little (and big) Victories

I love big victories. I mean, we all do, right? I love the days when I can look at what I’ve accomplished and go, damn… the world is lucky to have me.

Yesterday was kind of like that for me. I got to teach a seminar on basic self-defense with fourteen young women. I was nervous; these were teenagers and teens aren’t exactly my best age group. But the day went fantastic and the girls had fun. Most of all, I think they walked away feeling stronger and more prepared. I had a hand in that and it makes me feel pretty awesome.

Now, I’m not exactly saying that I do nothing most days, but there are days when the best thing I did was take a shower and feed the kids takeout. It’s really easy on those days to look at all of the things I didn’t accomplish. In fact, I think even on days when I’m pretty productive I tend to focus on what I didn’t do. And really, don’t we all? Isn’t it so much easier to criticize ourselves with our failures than to praise ourselves for the good we do?

self talk

I don’t think this is a habit linked solely with depression. In fact, I’d argue that our culture kind of teaches us to focus on what more we can do in all aspects of our life. We’re conditioned to never be satisfied because if we are satisfied, we become complacent. And if we become complacent, we will stagnate and never grow. I do, however, think this trend can be exacerbated by depression and turn a normal drive to do better into self-defeating, negative internal talk that is actually quite counterproductive. Let me explain.

As I’ve said numerous times in previous blog posts (Battling Invisible Wraiths, Parenting While Depressed (part 2)), depression is a dirty, dirty liar. It tells us how completely unworthy we are no matter what we do. It tells us that there is nothing we can do to make up for how awful we actually are. Add on to that society’s message that we should never be satisfied and, well … you see the dilemma.

I would like to say that I’ve conquered my inner demons enough to celebrate big victories in my life. I’d like to say that, but dude… that is why I pay my therapist top dollar. The truth is, I struggle with taking credit for even the big victories. It’s like I’ve conditioned myself to brush it off as nothing because, well, I think I am. Nothing, that is. So when all I have to celebrate is not smelling icky? I struggle hardcore.

Now, I’m not looking for reassurance. The one thing I’ve learned in my year and change in therapy is that self-confidence cannot come from outside. People can blow sweet smoke up your ass all day long about how amazing you are and you can find a million and one reasons not to believe them. They’re just being nice. They feel bad for you. You’re burdening them with your self-pity. Oh look! There’s another reason you suck.

Catch my drift?

I decided to write this blog post because teaching that class yesterday was a huge personal victory for me. As I mentioned in my last post, it has been a rough few months for me. Anxiety has been a major bitch recently and it has been preventing me from doing some of my favorite things. I find myself ignoring my phone, refusing play dates, and even skipping teaching at karate, which is one of my favorite things to do in the world. All because the thought of getting out there in front of people is crippling me with anxiety.

So getting up in front of a group of girls I didn’t know was going to be a challenge. I was nervous: about teaching them properly and about having a panic attack in the middle of presentation. In the end, I sucked it up and dealt. I taught, with the help of my best friend at my side, and those girls laughed and learned. And I did it without popping a Xanax or having an anxiety attack.

Win!

change-your-thoughts

And you know what? I still feel like that’s a win today. Which is a huge step for me. Four or five months ago? I’m certain I would have come up with a reason why I shouldn’t be proud of myself. I’m keeping those voices at bay today and I’m counting it as a win.

If you too struggle with allowing yourself a savor victories, do me a favor today. Find something in your day to be proud of. Catch it before the negative voices trounce on it and grasp it tight. Now sit with it for five minutes and think about how amazing it is that you had a win today. Protect that win from the voices in your head telling you it isn’t enough. And when you wake up tomorrow morning, I want that to be the first thing you think of. Can you do that for me?

Come back here tomorrow and tell me how you fared. I promise I’ll do the same for you. Maybe together we can beat back the voices telling us we aren’t enough.

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Refilling the Empty Cup: The Danger in Giving it All Away

I’m not good at setting limits. Not when it comes to the people I love or things I care about, anyway. My best, I find, is often not enough to meet all of the needs that are out there. That doesn’t stop me from bleeding myself dry in order to try, however.

Times have been rough for the past month or more. I put on a good face, but inside I’m full of turmoil. I recently left the therapist that I’d been seeing for over a year and took about a month off of therapy. My timing sucked as my month off happened at one of my lowest points ever. But this week I started with a new therapist and it looks promising. It’s draining though, opening up that closet door and letting a stranger poke through all of the skeletons and dig through the dusty drawers.

I find myself exhausted most of the time. Exhausted and exhausting. I literally exhaust myself with my circular thoughts of what I’ve done wrong and how I could be better. This exacerbates my anxiety issues. I just don’t have the reserves to keep it under control and so I’ve been having more panic attacks. Which leave me – even more fucking exhausted.

several days

i feel like this defines anxiety attacks. it feels like several days just up and jump on your back all at once.

Yeah. I’m kind of over all of this shit.

You’d think, then, that I would relish the time I get to replenish. There are things that do that: sitting with a good book and hot coffee in quiet, plugging in my headphones and filling my head with music, sitting with a special friend and having a beer … all of these things help to refill and renew my energy. I just wish I could appreciate those things for longer than the time it takes to do them.

I spent last night with a good friend. Someone I can be totally honest with and put aside the mask completely. We had dinner, drinks, and watched a funny show. It may have honestly been the best medicine in the world even though it was completely mundane. Spending those few hours without the weight of a mask was refreshing. I felt lighter, able to relax for the first time in a week or more.

glad you are alive

it’s great when things that make you glad to be alive are people too.

I woke up however, to discover that in the midst of everything that I needed to accomplish yesterday, I’d forgotten a commitment I’d made. I’d forgotten a lesson I was supposed to teach and left my student waiting without any notice that I wouldn’t be there.

That kind of carelessness is completely unlike me. Promptness and reliability are things I pride myself on, even in the midst of my worst breakdowns. But I let it slide and instead, I took time for myself. It wasn’t a conscious choice, mind you. I didn’t say, hey! Fuck this lesson. I’m going to have dinner with my buddy. No… I just forgot that it was scheduled and did something for myself.

And the guilt is crushing me. I know that it was a mistake. The student is fine. I spoke with them and they completely understood: lesson rescheduled and no one is the worse for it. I know that it could happen to anyone. But it was me. It was my responsibility. And I failed.

Times like this, it becomes so very difficult to silence those voices that say I am not good enough. That I let everyone down. That I don’t deserve friendship, relaxation, or ease. It’s really hard because I feel like that mistake damns me in some way. It’s not rational. I should be able to let it go.

I can’t.

And this is why my cup is almost always near empty and why I feel like what I have to offer is never enough. Because I pour out so much more than I refill.

I’m working on it. I have friends who remind me to take time for myself. They remind me when I feel guilty that refilling the cup allows me to give more. It doesn’t help the guilt.

And this is why I need therapy. *sigh*

peace

peace: what i hope to gain from therapy.

How an Internet Quiz Changed My Life

Scrolling through facebook this morning as I was avoiding getting up for the day relaxing, I saw about fifteen friends who’d recently taken quizzes. These ranged from “Which Disney Princess are You?” (I’m Mulan, bitches) to “What is your Patronus?” (Phoenix, baby).

I like quizzes. I like things that attempt to take information from seven questions and diagnose my entire personality. And by like I mean I find them funny as hell. I’d really like it to be that simple; and when I see a part of myself in those results, it makes me feel like maybe I’m not as fucked up as I sometimes feel. Often, however, I get such varied and ridiculous results that it just makes me more confused. Maybe that’s why the results of a test that I recently took had such a profound effect on me.

tom

this is me. i’m tom. different from the crowd… except i give a shit. lots of them actually.

A friend posted a link to the Myers Briggs Personality Test (MBTI for all of you psych nerds). I’d never heard of it before, but it sounded really interesting. Answer seventy odd questions and they’ll tell you four letters that define your personality. Being a quiz nut, I was in like Flynn.

The questions were strange; they weren’t probing queries into my inner soul, but more statements about my habits. “You are more interested in a general idea than in the details of its realization.” Yeah, pretty much. “Your actions are frequently influenced by feelings.” Can I get a HELL YES? “The more people you speak with, the better you feel.” Good God, no. And so on.

I was anxious to see where this would lead. I took my time, weighing each of the answers and being more honest with this test than I usually am to most people I talk to. In the end, it took me about a half hour to wade through those seventy-two questions. When I pressed the “Score This” button, I eagerly awaited the result.

INFJ: Introverted iNtuition Feeling and Judging.

infj2

the storm amid the calm. i’m confusing like that…

The words were familiar, but the combination was foreign to me. So I did what I do best. I researched the hell out of it.

INFJs are the rarest of the sixteen personality types, accounting for less than one percent of the entire population. We’re considered by many to be the most extroverted of the introverts, enjoying and often even seeking out groups of people (of our choice). We’re dreamers who focus on doing, and we are considered the most empathic personality type out there.

The more I researched this personality type, the more I saw myself in it. All of the quirks that I couldn’t explain, the strange curse ability to take on others’ feelings as my own, all of it was described as normal for this personality. Normal.

I’m not saying that everyone who takes this test will find meaning in it. But I am saying that for me, it was exactly what I needed. INFJs seem to be the most misunderstood personality, maybe because there are so few of us. We are often mistyped by others because we appear extroverted and very often adopt the characteristics of our closest friends. We want to be noticed and understood the way we notice and understand others, but we also hide like champs. We are a walking dichotomy.

infj1

Understanding more about my personality type has really helped me understand how it plays into my daily life and my battles with mental health. I’ve only recently begun to honor the empathic side of myself, and a lot of that stems from the understanding I gained in this test. I’ll give you a for instance.

I really dislike crowds. Always have. The noise, the extreme closeness of so many bodies, all of it combines for a truly uncomfortable experience for me. If I go to a crowded area with a stressed out friend, I find that I am more likely to suffer a full on panic attack than if I were to attend with someone more laid back.

I always dismissed the correlation, focusing more on the panic attack than the cause. But it makes sense now that I know about this empathic side of myself. It’s not just that I notice people’s discomfort; I actually feel it. If someone I care about gets hurt, I physically hurt for them. If someone is sad, I am sad. And so on.

I’m not trying to be dramatic or exaggerate. I’m just somehow more tuned in to the energy that others provide than most other people. I experience that energy in a very real and palpable way. It’s both a blessing and a curse.

Now that I know what I’m dealing with, I can approach people better. I don’t always look inward when I begin to feel sad or stressed or hurt; sometimes I need to look around me and see where that energy is coming from.

I know all of this sounds like New Age crap. And believe me, when I first started reading about it, I thought the same. The truth is, it isn’t all about crystals and auras and shit.

There is an energy to a room full of happy, celebrating people, yes? You feel it the moment you walk into the room and it carries you into their revelry. The same can be said of a room in mourning. The somberness is palpable as you walk in and without even thinking about it, you become more subdued. More quiet.

Every person carries that same energy inside of them. Some of us are just more in tune to the little changes than others. Whereas it might take 50 or 60 happy people to create that joyous energy I spoke of above, I can feel it from one person sitting next to me on the train. And it affects me. Happy or sad. Knowing that about myself makes me more careful of who I choose to be with when I’m not in a good place and it helps me take care of myself in much healthier ways.

This link is to the best, short explanation of INFJ I’ve ever found. If you’d like to know more about this personality type, start here. If you’d like to type yourself, you can go here. If you’d like to talk personality types, visit me in the comments section. I adore talking about this stuff and I love to hear from my readers. 🙂

OPINION: Response to Henry Rollins’ Revolver OpEd “F*ck Suicide”

In a recent opinion piece published by Revolver Magazine, Henry Rollins took a rather hard ass opinion on suicide in general and Robin Williams’ suicide in particular. It is his opinion; I respect the man’s right to an opinion. However, I can’t let it pass without a response. The entirety of his piece can be found here. I will quote as needed in my response which is also, it should be noted, my opinion. I don’t pretend to be an authority here, nor do I pretend to be infallible. But I do feel strongly about this topic and I strongly feel Rollins is way off base.

robin williams

In the wake of Williams’ high profile suicide and the revelation that this man who touched the lives of so many with humor had suffered for years with depression, there was an outpouring of national attention on the topics of suicide and depression. It opened up a dialogue about these personal struggles that we can only hope will continue, a dialogue that may one day lessen the stigma that those of us who suffer silently with this disease face every day.

But the dialogue was not all positive. There were many people, famous and otherwise, who were angry with Williams for “taking the easy way out.” They spouted the clichéd idiom that “life is only what you make of it,” and decried Williams for failing to make the most out of it. Suicide, in their eyes, was a failure.

Rollins echoed these thoughts in his diatribe. He starts soft enough, echoing the shock and sadness that so many felt in the wake of Williams’ untimely death. But almost immediately, he crucifies the man with a cutting blow:

But I simply cannot understand how any parent could kill themselves. How in the hell could you possibly do that to your children? I don’t care how well adjusted your kid might be—choosing to kill yourself, rather than to be there for that child, is every shade of awful, traumatic and confusing. I think as soon as you have children, you waive your right to take your own life. No matter what mistakes you make in life, it should be your utmost goal not to traumatize your kids. So, you don’t kill yourself.

That is all very well and good. Clearly, as a parent, our first job is to protect and provide for our children. But Rollins’ acerbic damnation is both trivial and misses the entire point of depression. It LIES. It is a dirty, dirty liar. And it tells you things like you are a failure: at life, at parenting, at everything you do. It tells you that every life you touch is worse for your existence. It whispers that everything you love and everyone you love would be better off for your absence.

It is clear to me that Rollins either has never suffered from a deep depression or never had anyone in his life so close to his heart that depression was able to lie to him about how he affected their lives. His view of Williams’ suicide is so narrow as to be comical. We can be angry that he is gone; we can even be angry that he left so soon. But to judge him so harshly is foolish and unfair.

Rollins goes on to back up his severe take on suicide by explaining that he feels people who choose this path void their right to pity:

When someone commits this act, he or she is out of my analog world. I know they existed, yet they have nullified their existence because they willfully removed themselves from life. They were real but now they are not. I no longer take this person seriously. I may be able to appreciate what he or she did artistically but it’s impossible to feel bad for them. Their life wasn’t cut short—it was purposefully abandoned.

He goes on to add, “Almost 40,000 people a year kill themselves in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In my opinion, that is 40,000 people who blew it.”

The kneejerk reaction of anger in the face of suicide is not only understandable; it is expected. In the same way it is expected that we become angry when cancer takes someone too young, suicide steals lives. But to condemn a man for losing his battle with depression is both shortsighted and heartless.

helpful advice

It is as careless as telling a hurting friend to just “choose happiness” instead of being depressed. It is as unfeeling as telling someone who is dying of heart disease to “think happy thoughts” for a cure. Depression kills. It is silent, but it is deadly. And the sooner we stop thinking of suicide as the easy, cowardly way out, the sooner we can turn the dialog about depression into one of hope and understanding.

How desperate must a person be to end the pain when the only option they see is one of ending it all? It is so final, so unforgiving. What hell must the day to day life of that person have been like to choose something they could never take back?

I’ve been there. I made a half-hearted attempt when I was much younger. And I’ve had suicidal thoughts as recently as this year. I feel only sadness and deep empathy for the level of pain that brought about his tragic end. I cannot condemn him. He lost a battle that was hard fought and I do not begrudge him the peace that I hope has found him now.

It is so easy to sit back on a high chair and judge a man who can no longer talk of his own pain. It’s easy to say what he should have done differently or talk of how he failed. The truth is that none of us, not even his wife and children, were in his head. We can never know exactly what his demons were telling him all of those years. To end his rant, Rollins states that he “[has] life by the neck and drag[s] it along. Rarely does it move fast enough. Raw Power forever.”

It must be nice to be so secure in your own life view that you think you can pass judgment on all those who have lost their fights. It must feel powerful in some way for him. But I cannot abide those judgments. I feel only pity and a sick sense of loss for those who could not see a way out of their pain. There but for the grace of good meds and better friends go I.

rip

Parenting While Depressed: Navigating a Battlefield (Part 2)

Last post I was telling you about my discussion with my daughter. There’ve been a few other discussions since that big one, but mostly she’s just accepted that depression is just part of who I am like asthma is part of who she is.

It was a little scary to be so honest with her. She’s still a baby in many ways. She depends on me to be the adult, to always have everything under control. And if you suffer with this disease, you know that that isn’t always possible. Some days it takes every ounce of energy just to paint on a fake smile and zombie-walk through the day. And I didn’t want my baby reading through that war paint to see the pain.

drowning

I struggle with the fear that she’s going to feel responsible for making me “happy” every day. The truth is, she and her brother do make me happy every day. Seeing the people that they are becoming is incredibly rewarding. It isn’t always as simple, however, as seeing happy things when you get into a depressive state. And I really didn’t want my girl to see the way depression eats at me and feel like it’s somehow her fault.

It’s easy to say that depression isn’t caused by outside influences and that it is no one’s fault, but that is a really hard concert for a child. Especially one as sensitive as my daughter. She hasn’t come right out and asked me yet if she is what makes me sad, but I do my best to tell her as often as I can how truly happy I am to be her mom.

I think it’s so important for those of us suffering with mental illness to make sure the people in our lives know they aren’t responsible. And it’s hard, because sometimes our actions say otherwise. Sometimes, when we just can’t handle being around others, or when our depression saps our patience, we lash out without cause. Those actions can wound a child or loved one for a very long time. While they might understand that it isn’t really us, it doesn’t stop the hurt.

The secondary hurt that depression can cause is one of the things I struggle with most. They call it a family disease, because everyone suffers with you: family, close friends, even your pets. But I hate that. I hate that there are days I don’t want to get out of bed and my kids see that and think that I don’t want to spend time with them. I hate that that thought is ever in their heads. No amount of open discussion will change that, either. It is there and it is a real side effect of suffering with this disease.

But being honest with her during that discussion was actually really empowering. When I am having a bad day and end up being short with her, later I can go back and apologize and explain what happened. It’s no excuse, and I make sure to tell her that. But it helps her understand, and hopefully will give her a vocabulary to voice her own emotions should she ever be in the same situation.

Of course, part of the worry that accompanies depression is that one or more of my kids will end up suffering with it as well. Clinical Depression, or Major Depressive Disorder, has been linked to a recently isolated gene, known as the Depression gene. It means that if you have a parent diagnosed with Clinical Depression, you are five times more likely to suffer from it than someone else. And that scares the shit out of me.

No one wants their kids to suffer. Ever. And knowing that there’s a possibility one or both of them could suffer from this illness makes me lose my mind. There is nothing worse than suffering from invisible demons that tell you all day long how much you suck. I’m wrong. There is something worse: knowing your kid is suffering from that as well.

children

I can’t stop it from happening, and as a mom that infuriates me. Yes, I let my kids do karate and climb rocks and do all manner of things that might cause injury. But standing by while they get their hearts broken day in and day out? Nope. Not a happy momma bear. The best I can do, however, is give them a vocabulary to ask for help. To know that they are not weak or damaged if their brains one day betray them with a lack of serotonin and cause nasty, depressive thoughts. I can show them the ways to get help: with therapy, the support of family and friends, and medicine if that’s what it takes. And I can be brave when they ask me for honesty.

It’s the best I can do, and I just hope it is enough.

If you think that your child may be suffering from depression, here is a link to some resources that outline symptoms to look for, case studies on some of the medications that are out there, and where to find help. Don’t ignore your instincts; if you think your child needs help, seek it out. It could be the best thing you ever do for them.

Parenting While Depressed: Navigating a Battlefield (Part 1)

“Mom, whatcha doing?”

We were standing in the bathroom first thing in the morning. I was barely awake, but my then 8-year-old was wide awake. And curious. Normally, I answer her questions without any hesitation, but that one was a little different. See, I was taking my anti-depressants and I knew this question wouldn’t be cut and dry. And I knew the way I handled it could affect her perspective on mental health for the rest of her life.

I could pass it off as vitamins, which wouldn’t have been totally false. One of my pills is Vitamin D, so yeah… I could rationalize the shit out of that. But in the back of my head, it would still be lying to my kid and I am never cool with that.

I could tell her that it’s medicine and not explain anything further. She had severe asthma when she was little, so daily medication isn’t a big deal in her world. It’s kind of par for the course. But she wouldn’t let me get away with that kind of over-generalization and I knew it was a cowardly approach anyway.

I could flat out lie and tell her it was for allergies or some other such nonsense. But again, with the lying to my kid. It’s just not in me, and really … what kind of message does that send?

I’ll tell you what message it sends: that depression is something we have to hide and that medicating for it is something bad or dirty. That is the last thing I want her thinking. Depression already has enough of a stigma in society; my little girl doesn’t need her own mother silently pushing that stigma onto it as well.

“I’m taking some medication that helps me feel better,” I said. “Sometimes, I have a hard time being happy, even when I should. This medicine helps me feel more normal and enjoy every day more.”

She looked at me for a few seconds before nodding and saying OK. She asked if I was happy right that moment, and I smiled, hugged her and said yes. It wasn’t a lie.

girl

The hardest part of being a depressed parent is the fact that this illness can steal away the joy of watching your kids grow up. My littles are still really young: 9 and 5 right now. They are going through some huge milestones right now: losing teeth, riding bikes for the first time, going off to kindergarten, sleepovers, and on and on and on. They are constantly filled with joy and wonder. And they are exhausting little buggers when you are trying your best to just hold your life together as it threatens to fall apart at the seams. This discussion definitely counted as one of the more exhausting aspects of parenting.

It didn’t end with the med talk, of course. She’s not a rapid fire interrogator. She likes to let things marinate. So we revisited the topic several times that week. It went a little like this, spaced out over several days.

Q: Why aren’t you happy when you should be happy?

A: Well, that’s kind of complicated, honey. I have something called depression and it sometimes makes it hard for me to be happy.

Q: Hold up. What’s depression?

A: (We googled that shit. She wanted a technical definition and I needed help.)

Q: But if you’re supposed to be happy, why aren’t you? I don’t get it.

A: Yeah. Me either. And it kind of sucks. *This was met with giggles and a little disbelief. But I assured her I was not pulling her leg. I really didn’t fully understand what was wrong with my brain. Which led to this next gem.

Q: Is your brain sick?

A: No. And yes. That’s complicated, too. I’m not sick like you are when you have an asthma attack. But yeah. There are chemicals in my brain that aren’t in the right balance and that is why I take medication to help equalize that.

Q: Does it hurt?

A: (This was hard for me. If you have depression, you know it fucking hurts. But she’s my baby and I don’t want her worrying, which she would. But lying again… So here is what I came up with.) It hurts that I see other people happy and I know I should be but I’m not. It hurts to fake it sometimes when I can’t actually be happy. And sometimes, I get a little overwhelmed. But it isn’t exactly physical. (Yeah, that’s a little bit of a lie. But I’m ok with it, because that’s protecting her… And no, that’s not a rationalization. She doesn’t need to worry that I’m aching inside.)

mom and daughter

Q: When’s it going to get better?

A: Just like you’re always going to have asthma, I’m always going to have depression. But some days are better than others. Some days are really stinking awesome. And some days just stink. But I’m doing the best I can to not let it affect me being your mom.

The end of all of this was that my daughter and I had a really open and honest discussion about mental health. I want to talk more about how the decision to be upfront with her affected my depression and anxiety, but this post is already hella long. And so, Part 2 will post in a day or two. Stay tuned!

My People; My Arsenal

I have this friend. Really, she’s the sister that I never had growing up. We just met like three months ago, or maybe now it’s three years (that’s an inside joke, by the way). Anyway, in the grand scheme of things, we’ve known each other only a fraction of our lives. And yet, she is one of the most important people in my life. And I’m going to tell you why.

I was having one of those weeks. If you have depression and anxiety, you need no further explanation. For the rest of you, let me expound. Something triggered my anxiety. I don’t remember exactly what it was, but I was revved up beyond even what I normally consider high alert. It was really bad: cold sweats, heart racing painfully, irregular breathing, and this overwhelming inability to concentrate on anything.

anxiety

It’s exhausting, physically and mentally. When you get that way, you cannot come down. Simply holding it together for an hour long play date is like running a marathon, but no matter how tired you get, you can’t get into low gear enough to truly rest. Sure, you might sleep, but you wake up just as exhausted because the entire time you are running away from the voices in your dreams. The anxiety follows you everywhere.

When it gets bad like this, I will admit that my coping mechanisms are not the healthiest. I stress eat. I drink more than I should. I’ve engaged in cutting behavior. But it all boils down to the fact that I hide. The stress of dealing with that anxiety is so extreme that I go into self-preservation mode. And I tend to pull away from friends and family. I know that I’m in no shape to be a good friend to anyone and I can’t summon the fortitude to ask for help. So I just wait it out in the bunker of my subconscious until the tornado passes and I can pick up the pieces.

At least that’s how it worked before I had a person.

Do you watch Grey’s Anatomy? I actually don’t, but I kind of love the friendship between Meredith and Christina. I’ve seen enough of it on Tumblr and Pinterest to know the gist of it, but my favorite part of their friendship is this little phrase that they pass back and forth to each other: “You’re my person.” It’s kind of become a thing for my best friend and me.

I’m lucky enough to have a couple “people” in my life, not just my surrogate sister. They work in very different ways to keep me semi-sane and functioning. The truth is I’m not easy to work with. In fact, I’m kind of a bitch. I fight against help when I’m in a bad place and I seldom reach out when I really should. I wear this mask, exhausting though it may be, to hide the pain and appear normal. It protects me from the reality that I’m really not coping well. It protects me from the knowledge that in those moments, I’m about as far from OK as one could get.

My people can see through the mask with little more than a glance and keep me from self-destructing. Everyone needs different things in life and in the midst of anxiety attacks; knowing what one person might need is an incomparable gift. Sometimes, it’s as simple as pulling the person out of their own head for five minutes so they can just breathe.

I’m not saying that it always works. There are times when they try their best to pull me out and I only retreat further. There’ve been times when they’ve tag-teamed me just to get a result. In the end, I’m here. I’m writing this blog for you. And in many ways, I owe that to my people: my personal arsenal against a truly badass opponent.

friend

Thank you. I know you know who you are.