Saturday, May 17, 2014


"You're not going? Why aren't you going to go?" He asks. The very same question I remember asking my own mother time and time again.

"It's just not my thing." I say. Something he always tells me when there's something he doesn't want to do. Something I think he can relate to and hopefully accept without further questioning. Because, really, how can I tell him all the reasons why? How can I tell anyone, so that they would understand?

How can I say I've just had enough today? And this week. And this month. That too many things have changed in too short a time and my whole world is out of order. That the slamming door and the loud TV and the constant motion of the day have filled me up. That I don't feel what other people feel. That as much as I may long to be a part of something, to be included and to belong, that I simply don't, and I feel more alone than ever in a room full of strangers. How can I explain that already my thoughts are racing faster than my brain can keep up, but I can barely form a sentence? Choosing the right words is nearly impossible. How do I describe the darkness? The emptiness? The fear? That sitting in a row with no escape is suffocating and keeping my eyes where they ought to be requires more work than I am able to do. That the sound of clapping would be so amplified right now I would surely jump out of my seat. That the unknown isn't something I can face tonight no matter how weak or pathetic it may make me seem. How do I explain that the panic is lingering and past experience has taught me that it's just around the corner? That when I get dizzy and have nothing to hold on to, when my heart starts racing and the pains shoots up the left side of my head and that icy cold feeling of death rushes into my chest, that I can't be in a room full of people. That I'd rather be home, alone, where I can cry, and shake, and make deals with the devil.

How could I explain any of this without sounding like a lunatic? I can't. So I don't. Instead, I force a smile, and tell my almost ten year old that... It's just not my thing.

And as much as I may have longed for understanding my entire life, I truly hope to god that this is something he never, ever understands.


1 comment:

  1. Hope,

    This is hard to read, in part because I understand. I understand the darkness, the feeling alone, the feeling of being (making myself) excluded from the crowd. Most of all, I understand the guilt. And being a child in an alcoholic family, I know now that the guilt comes from every stage of my life until now. And until now, I swallowed that guilt. Then, one day, I realized that something's driving the anxiety, and much of that was the guilt. And then the anxiety started driving the guilt. Some is self-imposed, but worse, some is not.

    When my mother lies to me about the state of my alcoholic father, and when my sister refuses to listen because it hurts her too much, I have to remind myself that this is not my fault. It's not because I demand and want the truth, or because I feel sad and want to talk about it. I'm not hurting them. His alcohol addiction is. But that's just about me.

    The guilt: it's in all of us. The anxious, the depressed, the people who can't get a good night's sleep. The people who, because of the stigma of these symptoms (and I stress that these are symptoms, not permanent disability), feel defeated when we take a little yellow pill to get a handle on all of these things. The next time you see the Abilify cartoon commercial, pay close attention. Initially, I saw a drug company trying to market a drug in a way that makes it appear to be a magical pill. I realize no pill is magical, nor is it the answer to all of our problems. But understanding mental illness may be the key. Because on further review, this is what I saw:

    A woman walks into a doctors office with a nervous frown. Because one pill isn't cutting it. She feels scared because one pill is supposed to cut it. Maybe she's crazy. She talks to the doctor and he hands her a prescription for Abilify.

    What she doesn't do is as important as what she does do next. She doesn't proudly walk out of the doctors office carrying the note above her head. Nope. She slips it into her purse discretely. She hides it away and walks out the door. No one will know.

    Flash to the bleachers at her son's baseball game, where she can now sit because of the magic little pill. She and her husband shift from him looking at her lovingly, to them looking at each other because they know her "little secret." The message I got was that she secretly has anxiety, and now that she secretly added a pill, her husband loves her more, and she can sit on the bleachers without having to tell anyone how she got there.

    I am more than annoyed by the guilt and the shame. I am sometimes overcome by it, and sometimes pissed off at it. Especially when I read a post from you in which I can see the guilt clear as day, but I can't do a damn thing about it.