I finally saw Inside Out. And I say finally because I was so excited to see it, but I didn’t end up getting there until after opening day.
It really spoke to me as a bipolar person. It spoke to me as a person in general. I mean, excuse me, “Who’s the friend who loves to play? BING BONG!!!” Excuse me, I have to go sob for a while… BRB.
We teach our kids and subsequently our adults, that it’s only okay to be happy. We’re never allowed to show our fear or our pain and if we do, something’s wrong that must be immediately fixed. I’ve known for a long time that sometimes there is no fixing. There is only grieving and trying to heal, and sometimes, even though we have the best intentions, we fail and our sadness (or fear, disgust, anger, etc) overtake us. I’ve caught myself before telling Sophia to just smile and pretend to be happy because her crappy mood was bringing down everyone else. And man, what a shitty thing to say to a little kid. But we say it all the time. “If you’re going to be like that, you can do it in your room.” ” I just gave you X, why can’t you be grateful.” “Go hug your aunt, she loves you.” We are constantly forcing emotions on our kids that they just aren’t feeling. We’re teaching them SO young that in order to be successful people, they have to pretend to be these tiny little robotic entities that show just how great parents we are. And if they have any “negative” emotions, we are showing our frailty.
The thing that hurts me so much about this, is that the little girl in the movie had her parents to fall back on. Eventually, she fell into their loving arms and released her grief and despair and they accepted it and they were willing to work through her pain as a family. I know so many people who are unable to do that. Either because they feel as though they have no one to unburden themselves to, are because they are simply unable to reveal the fissures in themselves.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the Germanwings tragedy from a few weeks back. I can’t seem to let it go. I know my family and friends love me, but in the back of my mind, I linger on the thought: Do they think I am capable of that? I know my husband felt the same way after Sandy Hook. Those people who know he has Aspergers; did they look at him differently now? Even subconsciously? Were they extra careful with their words? More tender when they spoke to him?
Mental health is a serious issue not only here but worldwide. People are sick and because of it, people are DYING. I’m so tired of people being ashamed of their depression, of their loneliness, of their quirks. Talk to someone and get help. Learn to accept that this is a part of who you are. Sometimes there are dark moments, but you don’t have to live there all the time. Tell someone you love what to watch out for so they are aware. I have a team of people who throw lines down to me when I dig myself down too deep.
Stigma will remain until we crush the life out of it. It’s up to us. We can’t change if we don’t talk.
Recently, someone close to me revealed that in the recent weeks, they had briefly considered ending their life. I don’t mean they had stared down the barrel of a gun, or even stopped momentarily in the painkiller aisle at the grocery store and considered, “Which one would help me go fastest?” It was a fleeting, preliminary thought, but enough to make this person actually ask the Internet how to end their life in a quiet, pain-free way.
Do you know what Google says when you ask it this question?
This was enough to give them pause.
This message, posted at eye-level. Above the pro-suicide blogs, the nonsense articles about the “best” ways to remove yourself from life. This.
Hearing this story makes me feel like I’ve lost balance. It’s completely thrown me off because everything I thought I knew about the last month or so of my life is wrong. Every conversation I have had with my buddy has been veiled in a pain that I understand so well that it wrenches my heart out of my chest to know they kept it from me. And even worse, that I didn’t see it.
But what good does it do to throw myself into that black soul-sucking pit as well? Bad back or not, the only thing I can do it throw down a rope and slowly try to pull my friend up and out. Hopefully, along the way, I will gather friends, family and counselors behind me to help.
I just want you to know, that the hole in my heart would never heal if you were gone.
This is an article that was published on huffingtonpost.com a couple of months ago that I found to be really interesting. Of course, I related to the first bullet point: that people with concealed depression try to look okay. Of course we do. We try so hard to pretend that we are fine. Before I started this blog, and really, before I started being honest with myself, I was so scared that someone would see how deep my pain ran and I would become even more isolated than I already was. But the point that really stuck out to me was number 3: “They may have trouble with abandonment.”
Sometimes I find myself bugging my friends too much. Texting them at odd hours, or way too frequently than what is deemed polite or normal. And when I don’t hear back, I create scenarios in my head in which I have failed them and they have finally become tired of my endless neediness. I worry they have abandoned me. In my heart, I know they are busy. They have lives, kids, jobs; and endless slew of appointments and obligations that keep them from mindlessly reassuring me that they love me all day. However, this is in my heart, not in my head. My head tells me that they have finally seen the light and have realized that I am nothing if not clingy and weird. That I cannot go a day without a pat on the head or a nod in my direction.
It can be so difficult to be friends with someone with any kind of invisible illness, and I am so grateful to those who really have stuck by me throughout the years. And I have also come to forgive those who have had to walk away. I understand now that some people have had to disconnect for their own sanity and have had to put themselves first. As I have grown I get that now; I would do the same.
This morning was crazy color day at school. Soph asked me to make her some hair bows to go with the insane outfit she was wearing so last night I whipped up rainbow hair clips to go in her pigtails. When she saw them she said, “It looks like you didn’t even make these.” I was confused, so I asked her what she meant and she elaborated, “It looks like you bought it at Target.”
It was just enough motivation to get me to not get back into bed. Instead, I took a shower, SHAVED MY LEGS, (don’t you judge me, that’s huge) got dressed in real clothes and here I am. It’s eleven in the morning and I am not asleep. If you are able to do this on a regular basis then I am genuinely, really excited for you. I am not being an ass, and I am not being condescending. I am truly in awe of people who are able to get up every day and take care of themselves without the self-doubt and fear that comes with mental illness. And right now, it’s difficult to distinguish whether I am truly in a low or I am merely healing from this surgery and just blue from being home and forced to be limited in my activities.
It’s amazing though, how uplifting a kind word can be. A sweet and unexpected compliment from a 7 year old was enough to propel me through a brick wall that I had been unwilling to even walk around, let alone crash through. I know she will likely forget what she said this morning, likely before she even has lunch, but I will hold it in my heart for a long time.
I want to write about how I’m healing because I’m resting. But really, I’ve come to associate laying down, sleeping and taking it easy with the vise of depression. Even though my body craves rest, my mind rebels and pushes me to activity. It tells me to move and exceed my limitations because if I spend too much time in bed, I will be swallowed whole again by it. I will once again go under and sink to the bottom and stay there. I’m terrified that my convalescence will turn into a major low that I won’t be able to escape from. Yes, I am supposed to be up and moving, but I am not supposed to be 100% Amanda as I am trying to be. I think I can do more than I can, and then I suffer the consequences. And they are serious. I don’t need scolding, and know what I’m doing wrong. I just need understanding that I’m not doing this because out of spite or ignorance. I’m doing it out of sheer panic that my mind will be broken one my body is fixed.
I’m getting real tired of having to say this. Seriously. Really. Damn tired. I got a job. I got some new friends who care about me, who reach out to me and want to do things with me, and who love me for who I am. They can accept my highs and lows and even when my daughter refuses to speak to them. They can hand me a tissue and a glass of wine when I burst into tears for no reason. And when I go to work, I come home and I’m TIRED. Most days I don’t have time to call and chat about nonsense. I want to gather my family around me, spend time with my husband and then go to bed. I am not pushing ANYONE away. And if anyone feels that way, well then, maybe the distance has been because you’re the one walking away from me. And hey, if the shoe fits? Then feel free to lace that bitch up and wear it. I know who I am, and I know who I’m going to actively seek out and spend my time with. I know what’s best for my family and for my daughter, and that’s what I’m basing my decisions on. I’m not thirteen, hell, I’m not 22. I don’t have the mental strength to make calls based on cattiness or he said, she said craziness. If it’s not good for me, my mate, or my kid, it’s not happening. Period. End. I’m not saying this again.
I know it’s been forever, and I’m not even going to attempt to give any explanation other than: Life.
In an attempt to get myself out of my house and into the world, I accepted a job at a florist. I was only supposed to be a driver, but the boss almost immediately promoted me to… I don’t know… florist office do-everything person. I’ll admit she can be a difficult person to work with, but I love her and I love my job. It’s been a little over three months and I’m incredibly happy there. However! There has been a bump in the road because I had to have unexpected back surgery. Anyone who knows me knows I have back issues. Pain, arthritis, sciatica, blah blah blah, whatever. It’s not abnormal to see me walking around with a limp and a grimace. I finally went and received an MRI and saw my exceedingly attractive neurosurgeon. As soon as he walked in the room, I knew. He wanted me to have surgery immediately, but I needed time to prepare and I was able to convince him to give me three weeks. So, here I am now, strapped into a plastic breast plate, unable to move most of upper body, with four screws and two rods in my back. It’s been three weeks since the surgery, which consisted of a one-level spinal fusion, which is when the surgeon fuses two vertebrae together. Fun!
I’m trying to stay positive, but it’s difficult because I feel as though I had made so much progress. Staying at home all day is definitely counter productive to my mental state. It’s not that I’m bored exactly, (I am, don’t get me wrong) or even lonely, (I am that too), but I feel the old urge to sleep. That quiet call from my bed and my brain to return to sleep so I don’t have to think about the pain I’m in or what I might be missing. The days pass by faster in a haze of waking and returning to bed, with a couple of hours in between to groggily watch Doctor Who on Netflix. The brace I’m wearing is, quite literally a prison. There is so little I can do to help my family, I feel so much like a waste of space to them. I know it’s only temporary, but when you have a mental illness and you’re suddenly paired with a physical problem; everything feels inescapable. Normally, the depression and fear that I live with is a horrible swamp that I am under. I can see a light above me, and all I have to do is fight the current and the detritus until I break the surface. But now, I have a stone tied to my ankle. It’s not so heavy that I can’t get my head above the water, but it’s exhausting. I’ll make it, it’s just taking time.
I’ll preface this post by saying that I am not saying anything disparaging against princesses, glitter, pink, stereotypically “girly things,” or the girls that love them. However:
My daughter is a Coraline in a sea of Elsas.
If you’ve never seen it, Coraline is a dark “children’s” movie based on a book about a little girl who finds a passage to another world where she can be happy. But she soon realizes that happiness comes at a price too steep for her to pay, and she has to fight her way out and back to her family. We hesitated in letting Sophie see this movie because even we were a little creeped out by the button-eyed antagonist. See for yourself:
But, of course, just like her mother, she jumped right on the bandwagon and fell in love. She decided MONTHS ago that she would be Coraline for Halloween and we spent hours scouring thrift stores for the aspects of her costume and braving the glue gun to achieve the perfectly crafted dragonfly barrette. Because, again, just like her mother, she is a sucker for accuracy. She didn’t mind a bit having to explain her costume over and over again to every baffled parent. She thought it was “awesome” that she was someone no one had heard of. My weird little heart swelled with pride when she slipped on those yellow rain boots and said, “Yep, I look just like her, Mama! This is the BEST!” I hope she never, ever grows out of this.
That’s her on the left and her buddy Zombie Alice.