Tag Archives: How come depression is so physical?

I care that I don’t care

Have you ever had one of those days when you just kind of blow out your breath in a deep sigh, and mutter “Oh, I just don’t care”?

If you haven’t, I think there would most likely be a large “S” on your chest.

superman

Today is one of those days.

In

fact,

I’m

having

a

hard

time

caring

about

writing

this

blog.

Come to think of it, I would bet that even Superman had days that he just didn’t have the strength to care anymore.

That’s kind of an interesting concept when you think about it.

Does it take strength to care? Continue reading I care that I don’t care

What is real? What difference does it make if something is real or imagined?

While the kids were young we always had a family book that we read after dinner and the kitchen was cleaned up. Some were single volumes, others were entire series. We loved quite a variety. We made it through hundreds.

book

Sometimes we’d stay up later than we should, cuddled on the couch, and reading “just one more chapter, please!” This was true as we worked our way through the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling.

I remember one evening particularly when the power had gone out and we were reading by flashlight. We ended up staying awake past 1:00 a.m. to finish the book. That memory is dear to all of us.

We did the same thing with the movies. We all waited and saw them for the first time together. Kind of a fun family tradition. Since then, watching and reading again has always made us think of each other.

Over the weekend we were watching the final Harry Potter movie together before Alex leaves for graduate school in a few weeks. So, when we came close to the end of the film, we all knew what was coming before it happened.

It’s one of my favorite conversations, in both book and movie. The scene takes place after Harry has willingly let Voldemort kill him in order to save all of the others. After the wand blast, Harry finds himself in a clean, white, between-life conversation with Professor Dumbledore. As Harry makes the choice to go back and continue the fight against evil, the scene ends with this last interchange:

“Tell me one last thing,” said Harry. “Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?” Continue reading What is real? What difference does it make if something is real or imagined?

Is this the best we can do?

This article is part 3 of a 5 part series.

For part 1, click here.

For series summary, click here.

You’ve seen the commercials for those exclusive addiction centers that look more like a spa weekend at a resort than a treatment center.

resort

Well, I can emphatically tell you that that is not what it is like in the psych ward.

Maybe it’s the trainer in me, but I felt like I missed an orientation and was kind of flying by the seat of my pants at first. It was because of the other patients looking out for me that I made it to where I needed to be that first night.

Initially, I thought that the staff was just too busy and running too hard to be able to keep up with it.

But by my third day I found myself doing the same thing that my fellow patients were doing, looking out for the new ones who had just come in, recognizing that look of terror at feeling they had landed in hell, and giving a smile that shared that it would indeed get better.

I’ve always felt it was medicinal to forget yourself and reach out and help someone else.

Is that part of the therapy?

I wondered. Continue reading Is this the best we can do?

What does it mean to have mental illness?

Kind of a scary question – everyone is certain that this is something that definitely happens to others but NOT to them. No one really ever wants to admit that they have a mental illness problem. Because, that means that I am, well you know, nuts, right? No, I’m not nuts, nope not me.

And yet, the truth is: I am.

It took me many years to finally understand and recognize that all these things that have always been different about me are actually things happening in my brain that aren’t necessarily happening in other’s brains. It took even longer to accept it (actually, I think I am still on that journey). Some days I continue to fall in the trap of “if I just push really hard through it I can be like others”. Yet, at the end of the day I know deep inside that I’m not like the other people around me.

That can be really discouraging. And lonely.

The truth is that with mental illness, a person has to expend so much more energy to just do things that many others can do instinctively and reflexively. It takes focus to not hurl hateful statements at others; it takes work to keep the tears from falling for no reason; it takes effort to reach out and pick up that dish or push that vacuum.

Others will say things like “Oh, I know just what you mean, I have days that I am so tired I couldn’t do a thing” or “We all feel like that from time to time”. I know that they mean well. Their heart is in the right place. They are trying to just “buck us up”.

But there really is a difference. I KNOW the difference.

I know what it is like to be pretty tired from a long day at work and feel like “Man, I’d rather do anything than get up and do the dishes”. It is a completely different universe from “I really wish the house would catch fire right now and I could just close my eyes and let it take me because I don’t have any energy left to do what needs to be done.” There is something very real, very physical happening that is fighting our every move and effort.

It’s not fair that others can do things without thought, things that takes planning and focus on my part to attempt, without any guarantee of success.

Does that mean that I don’t have to try? Do I get a pass?

Life isn’t fair. And that’s okay.

I know that every other person has things that are so hard for them, things that I probably don’t really struggle with. I will never be an alcoholic. I will never be addicted to gambling. I’m simply not wired that way. Others are. Everyone struggles and everyone has the responsibility to overcome the best they can.

Maybe that’s worth repeating: Everyone struggles and everyone has the responsibility to overcome the best they can.

My problems are my problems and my responsibility. But mental illness is its own special brand of hell and has the potential to reach out and cause pain to others. The news has ample illustrations of this. So in that way my problem becomes everyone’s problem.

That isn’t fair either. Not to you, not to me.

We can continue to shake our heads and express horror at the tragedies that surround us because of it. Or, we can take a step towards each other and try to see things from the other’s perspective.

What would be a good place to start? What if each of us really tried to understand what THE OTHER PERSON needed (not necessarily what we think they need)?

Here are just a few ideas:

I think that you need me to recognize that I have a problem. You need me to acknowledge that I need help in dealing with it, and then get that help and keep fighting every day. You need me to accept that my life will forever be different than what I had originally planned it to be. And I need to find peace with that.

I think that I need you to pay closer attention to me and little signals that I may send. I need you to let me know with love when things are getting out of control and give me a chance to catch it before things get ugly. I need you to let me know that it is okay that I am trying so hard to keep up, and that my best is good enough in your eyes. I need you to still treat me like I’m still one of you – I just have a unique set of quirks. I need to know that you don’t find my differences distasteful.

Everyone struggles and everyone has the responsibility to overcome the best they can.

Having mental illness doesn’t need to be a life sentence that segregates us from the rest of society. With effort from each side of the aisle we could meet in the middle. Who knows, we may even find that we like being around each other!

So, how about I look outside of myself enough to help you in your personal struggle to overcome things that are hard for you?

Please know that I am so very, very grateful for all the help and acceptance I get from you.

If we choose to stop and really look at those around us, take a moment to see if there isn’t something simple that we could do that would make their day just a little easier, then pretty soon each of us will find that we aren’t dancing alone.