The other day I was speaking to a friend who thought her coworker’s anxiety-depressive disorder diagnosis was a hilarious topic. “She’s acting like a crazy person, telling people not to stand near her, won’t let anyone try to cheer her up,” my friend said… and laughed.
Don’t be too harsh on my friend, my Wicked Luvs, for her reaction to her coworker’s illness can be highly attributed to culture. I know that it is hard to believe—it’s 2015 for goodness’ sake!—but yes, there are individuals that still believe that things like depression and chronic pain are myths or delusions. This is a terrible thing for those of us who have to live with one or the other, and much worse for the ones who must spend all their days dealing with both.
I find this lack of acknowledgment shocking and enraging (I think I just heard Climate Change shout, Sing it sister, before the myth of me cooks you alive… *cough, cough*).
The day before yesterday was a physically and emotionally draining day for me… So when my friend started to bring up her coworker’s situation again, I wasn’t feeling as patient as I usually am. Instead of trying to reason with her (my standard tactic), I sent her the following quote with a link to the original article: “Refined brain imaging shows us that when non-depressed people try to retrain their thoughts, or reframe negative emotions, they are often successful. The brain activity responsible for negative emotions in the amygdala (fear center of the brain) decreases. However, when depressed people try this, the activity increases. Their efforts backfire. The more they try, the more activation in the amygdala.”
My friend’s reply isn’t worth sharing. Let’s just say that her “interpretation” of the article and of “those people” left me in a rotten mood. It is difficult to live with an illness that steals bits of you every single day. And nothing adds to the horrors of such malady like the added humiliation of people believing that you’re mad, or weak, or just looking for attention…
I was thinking about that, yesterday, while failing to open an oil jar—my hands and feet continue to weaken; the distance I can walk without my bones, nerves and muscles begging me to stop is getting shorter. I knew this was going to happen… I’ve been getting ready for it, even if I still hate every moment of it. Some days acceptance is shit… But I can tell myself, “Manure is a good thing for gardening, witchy woman, plant more stuff.”
In the past, I would have taken my butcher knife to that jar’s lid and spilled its guts while smirking at it. Today, I know I’m lucky… for I’ve lived enough to know I can turn manure into a good thing. People who are severely depressed can rarely see beyond the shit. And if they take the knife to the jar, it is likely that they’ll end up causing themselves more harm than they can cause the lid.
I’ve never met my friend’s coworker, but I admire her; it takes an uncanny kind of courage to get out of bed and go to work day after day with a brain full of despair and a mind oozing desperation. I’m proud of the Wicked Darling who made me aware of the article I quoted above; for even when she is at her most depressed, she pushes herself to look up from the dark pit, and tells the world that tomorrow might not suck (also, she has learned to ask for help). I have a lot of respect for my Self because I know what it takes to say, “Magaly, giving up on certain things (on certain people…) is beyond difficult, but you’re made of fire, teeth and gut (even if the latter has been sort of crappy lately); you will do what you must.”
P.S. I know I shared no specifics when it comes to what I’ve just given up, or what changes forced me to do it… but I will tell you, eventually… For now, I need to gnaw on it quietly…
“For a Moment of Silence”, by Gina Morley
* The title of this post is a quote by Mary Anne Radmacher, borrowed from here.