Sometimes, the hardest thing a person can do is just to hang on. Something bad happens, or tragedy approaches, or things get tough, or life gets really busy, and it has to be enough just to hang on.
In my life, I have become someone that can hang on. But, there was a time when that was not the case. There was a time when I thought I had to be in so much control over everything that when anything skewed my world, I could not hang on. My response was to EXPLODE! And, it's funny, because I wasn't in control of "everything" any more than the man in the moon is. I wasn't in control any more than anybody else; not any more than I am in control of circumstances today. Yet, I'd crash and burn if I didn't think I was in control.
Many years of therapy and some really good medications and I am learning to roll with the circumstances instead of shaking my fist at them and getting angry. I put "learning" in the present tense because I don't know that I'll ever get to the point where I never get upset about life's little surprises, or where the burden of my depression doesn't creep in once in a while. But I do so much better now than I ever have before that the difference, to me, is dark of night and oh, happy day.
There were a couple of catalysts. One was Rob, who does not handle "angry me" very well. Oh, he's fine with just regular "stub my toe and cuss a bit" anger, but he's a bit more uncomfortable with a black mood that lasts for days and is just me, pissed at everything, everyone; animal, mineral or plant. For Rob, I began a medication (SSRI) that helped. I had never been willing to do that for anyone else. I did not believe in drugs, legal or otherwise, as the solution to my problems. It speaks volumes about how important this relationship is to me that I changed my mind.
The other catalyst was having a child in the house. You can't raise a kid around a person that yells everything one week and spends the next trying to make up for it. And, that got me back in therapy. And, if you ever wonder about how important it is to me to have a kid in my life, then all you need to see is how much I've spent on therapy since she came to live with us so I can be a better parent. I love her more than my money.
A bit of background would probably be helpful here so you don't walk away thinking I have Tourrette's or something. I lack perfection. Everybody lacks perfection, but for me, it was crippling. Any little thing I did that was not perfect would anger me, at myself. And, because getting angry was also an imperfection, it would escalate...two things to be angry at myself about, only by the second thing, I wasn't angry anymore. I was depressed. Sitting in the dark, on the sofa, wrapped in a blanket, with the TV turned down depressed. Not able to clean or feed myself depressed.
In therapy, I've been able to put some words to what happens, although a whole lot of it is still just feelings that don't have words to describe them. I come from people that I was raised to believe were perfect. One set of my Grandparent's were perfect. One set was held up as the icon of "what not to be"...imperfect. We were sheltered from the mistakes of that set of Grandparents. My parents made mistakes, but we weren't raised to see them as mistakes. And, most of the mistakes and any repercussions of those mistakes all happened behind closed doors. So, all I saw; all that was modeled for me, was to be perfect. It was a case of my parents admitting to imperfection, but my perception of their actions spoke louder lessons than those words. I really thought they were perfect and that I should be, too. I just didn't hear the part of the lesson where everyone is imperfect and just muddles through their imperfection. I was an adult, long in the tooth, before I realized that it was okay to really mess up once in a while and the world would not come crashing down around me. There was no need to hide myself away from everyone, just because I wasn't perfect.
And, then I got the help I needed.
So, why is this important? Why do I care enough to share this very private information? Because I am cutting back on my meds and I am very proud of myself. I feel good. I feel strong and I feel confident. I feel ready to see if I can do it with half of the medical help I've been getting.
It's hard. It's frustrating. And, yesterday, I just kept telling myself that what I was feeling was about withdrawal, not about real stress. Anxiety and anger were just what I was feeling, not who I was for the day. It passed, eventually. And that helped build even more confidence that I can do it. And, if it doesn't work? Well, I have the doctor's approval to cut back, but we didn't rewrite the prescription yet, so I can go back to taking a whole pill every day, anytime I want to.
I was the same way when I quit smoking, I had to have an "out". Some people quit by throwing away their cigs. I quit by having a full pack that I could pull a smoke out of anytime I wanted one. I needed to know they were there, if I needed them. And, having that crutch took some of the stress out of it for me. It wasn't that I couldn't have them. It was that I chose not to have one. And, the same is applying for reducing my meds, too. They're there. If I want them. (years later, we found that old open pack of smokes, buried in the garage. Rob brought them to me and we threw them out. their presence was no longer required. another proud moment.)
So far, other than feeling really stressed yesterday, the only side effect I've had is difficulty focusing on "thinking" tasks. I can crochet like an obsessed madman. But, I can't think about what I want to do to finish that last quilt I was working on. And, I'm having trouble thinking what to do at work. But, hopefully, that will pass in a few days.
And, again, I hear someone asking, why does he think I care enough about him being nutty as a fruitcake to bother me about it? Well, I'm probably not sharing with anybody that thinks that. Those people probably didn't even get down to this paragraph. But, for some reason, people seem to connect with what I can put in words. And, it seems that every time I put this much out there, somebody sends me an email that just says thanks for making me feel "normal". So, I keep putting it out there for that "somebody". Because
YES, DAMNIT, WE ARE AS NORMAL AS EVERYBODY ELSE. REVEL IN IT! CELEBRATE IT! ROLL AROUND IN IT LIKE A DOG IN STRANGE DOODOO. AND WAVE BOTH MIDDLE FINGERS AT ANYBODY THAT SAYS DIFFERENT. TELL THE WORLD, YEAH, I'M CRAZY, BUT I'M HANGING ON. GET OVER IT.
And, invariably, I also get the comment from the person that thinks I need advice or can do better, even though they just read that I'm feeling pretty good about myself and my work. Those folks don't understand and won't ever understand what it takes to really open myself up and share something private. That's fine, too. I'll spend about 42 seconds thinking "maybe I shouldn't put so much of myself out there on the internet." And, in the 43rd second, I think "Screw 'em. That's one less person I'll invite to join my bee in Heaven."
Long story short, if you need help, it's out there. Just go find it. Ask for it. Ask a doctor. Ask a friend. Ask a preacher. Ask a co-worker. Ask a lover. Or, you can even ask somebody you don't know very well because they're the last to judge. But, don't forget to ask. Maybe it's someone to talk to. Maybe it's medication. Maybe a little bit of both. And maybe just for a little while. Whatever it is, get it. You'll be glad you did. Even talking to a friend about yourself can make you feel important, so celebrate first steps, no matter how small you think they are.
And, that's it for me on this Way Back Wednesday. Today, I've been thinking about how much better I am than I was Way Back When-sday. Join me, won't you?