It seems unfair of me to talk about my daughter's Mental Health while vaguely alluding to my own without elaborating, so that's what's on the menu tonight. LUCKY YOU! I wish I could tell you that back when things were hard (TERRIBLE BREAK UPS, ANYONE?!!) my Mental Health suffered and now that I've done everything I can to make my life happy I'm better, but that idea recently shattered like an IKEA champagne flute at brunch.
I'm quite breakable, it turns out. I'm also still pretty broken.
EXACTLY LIKE ALL OF US!
But I'm at this place where I can't think of a single thing I'd change about my life. I love my house. I love my boyfriend. I have the best (if mentally-challenged) kids. I'm exceptionally well paid to do a job I love. But best of all, I've somehow managed to build a community around me that is stronger and more wretchedly beautiful than anything I have ever known. S0 much so that when I took a mental health nosedive, I was actually overwhelmed by the amount of support I got.
I've been steadily taking meds and going to therapy and making better decisions for YEARS. I even immediately started running again the moment my sads returned.
SO WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK, BRAIN?!?
Instead of boring you with specifics, I'll just share this letter I posted to our brunch group a few weeks ago. It's probably worth noting that our brunch group is quickly approaching 300 members, all of whom I know by name, and that I had ZERO shame in sharing my ugly feelz with my community. I'm pretty sure that's why they call it COMMUNITY.
HEY FAVORITE HUMANS! I've been having some Mental Health this week and I wanted to talk about it before tomorrow's brunch, so here goes...
This week I’ve been sad. Anxious to the point of panic. Panic to the point of worrying about self-harm. I scared the shit out of Patrick and took my Mental Health out on him. Which I can’t even REMEMBER because my brain broke that night and I think I lost touch with reality for a few hours. My brain was a shit show. My poor Love had to call in reinforcements at 1AM. (Thanks to Doug and Riley for being there that night.)
It’s important to me that everyone knows my Mental Health is never about circumstances. Nothing HAPPENED. Nobody died. My brain just got sick. It decided to be a dick and tell me a bunch of fucked up lies on a terrifying repeat loop that I was powerless to stop. This ain’t my brain’s first rodeo. I’ve been here before. I know that it coincides dangerously with hormones. After years of therapy and self-care and anti-depressants, I no longer believe a single fucking syllable it lobs at me. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean I can stop it from yelling at me. It still HURTS.
The reason I'm writing this is to tell you that I KNOW you Love me. You ALL tell me. You SHOW me. I absolutely feel it ALLTHETIME, EVERY DAY. Especially on Sundays. I don't take anything for granted. I have the best life I never could have imagined and I believe it's 100% because of my community. Because of you guys. My life is fucking AWESOME.
And yet I’m still going to be sad sometimes. Mental Health is a Thing and sometimes I have it. It’s not your fault! And when the reaction to my depression by the people I Love is to remind me how much they Love me, it kinda makes me feel bad. “How can you be sad when I Love you so much?!?” is painful to hear. I know that sounds stupid, but I’m not sad because I’m not Loved enough. My depression is not anyone’s fault. I don’t feel bad or unLoved or unworthy or any of the stupid shit my brain says, so when I get reassurance of that Love, it feels selfish to me. It implies that you or ANYONE has a single God damned thing to do with my brain chemistry.
You don't. I don't. Nobody does.
Years ago when this first happened, I started a SELF-CARE list that I keep in my head (and, in case my brain is broken, in my phone) of what to do when I'm not okay:
1. Call Samnterry (My 911 People, who fed me dinner and kleenex last night.)
2. Call Ramona (I immediately booked her first available appointment.) (My therapist.)
3. Reach out to My People and DON’T HIDE (See: this week’s Facebook history.) (See also: this post.)
4. Exercise (I went to my first Hash with Candice on Thursday.)
5. Go outside (The hash was up in the hills of Forest Park, where I plan to go for another run tomorrow before brunch.)
6. Write (…)
So I did all the things. I did them right away. I did them even though doing them made me cry a lot. And this morning my fog seems to have lifted. I woke up and snuggled My People. I made breakfast for Patrick and Jade. I sang along to Ambrosia. I wrote these words.
But I’ve been terrified about brunch all week. I’ve been worried that everyone will keep asking me if I’m ok and that will make me feel like a mental patient. Sometimes that can trigger a fresh guilt/shame spiral that puts me right back where I started, only worse. I’ve thought about not attending. Hiding. Not being myself. But that’s not fair. I want My People around me.
So can we just be cool tomorrow? I’m okay. I PROMISE, I’m okay. I did ALLTHETHINGS, you guys. All of them.
So tell me that you Love me. I will never tire of hearing it and telling you the same thing every chance I get. But tell me you Love me the same way you would tell it to a cancer patient. NOT because saying it will somehow cure the cancer, but because it’s nice to have a friend hold your hand while you puke.
Worth noting - My People did NOT disappoint. They were SO COOL. They continue to amaze me every time. Especially Patrick, who held my hand (in spite of all the crazy I'd lobbed directly at him) and came with me to therapy just to help give Ramona the full story. I'm doing better, even if only marginally. Brain chemistry is a cluster fuck and I'm sorry and sad for all of us who have to deal with it.