Let’s Talk

This was supposed to go up Tuesday. It’s 11pm Thursday night. I’m just writing it now. My brain does not like to process stress. My brain likes to pretend it can ignore stress while slowly making me more and more grumpy until it just shuts down, like a drain that slowly collects gunk until it’s just choked off. Venting doesn’t always actually release any of that pressure, because my brain is trying to ignore it. It’s so, let’s mix some metaphors here, shut off in the back that venting is just describing what’s behind the door without actually airing any of it out.

I think I’m getting better. I like to believe I am, anyway. It’s long, and slow, and I could have done with more treatment options than I’ve had access to for much of my life.

Here’s the thing, though. When I was growing up, I hid my difficulties. I saw the world around me, and I heard anxiety and depression being described as problems of faith. After all, the Bible says be anxious for nothing. Over and over, in a hundred different ways, it says we shouldn’t worry. And Christ is our source of joy, right? God wants us to be happy?

I have to address these really quick, that last one first: God does want us to be happy, but his concern is that we are right with him. This world is broken. Weeping may tarry for the night, but his joy comes in the morning. That morning is the end of this world and the dawning of the new earth. We’ll be happy… eventually. He promises us pain and mourning in this world. Sacrifice. As for the rest of it? Sweetheart, with all the condescension and compassion appropriately applied to each individual listener, it’s a brain chemistry thing. It’s no different than if my pancreas gave out, or my thyroid, or my gallbladder.

So I don’t hide it anymore. I won’t hide it anymore. Do you want to know about the time I stayed in the hospital for two weeks? Do you want to know about the different meds I’ve been on?

High school was a difficult time. Chronic migraines made my attendance to church and school both spotty at best. It made bonding with my peers difficult. It left me lonely. A well-liked outsider. I didn’t want to be difficult. Dealing with my physical health was difficult enough. So I tried not to complain.

I went off to college with the intention of addressing some of the issues I couldn’t ignore anymore, and it turned out to be more than I could handle on my own. Debilitating panic attacks and the attempts to control them leave my first year a bit of a blur, honestly, even though that’s the year I met and dated my husband. It’s romantic, really. I remember our relationship much better than I remember any of the classes I took.

With the panic barely under control, the depression did it’s best to swallow me whole. I knew I needed professional help, but I physically could not ask for it. Three more years passed. I was engaged for a year. Married for a year. Tried to care for our daughter for a year. Those are the darkest years of my life. I could not be more grateful for a committed husband who staid by me, or for my mother-in-law who decided it couldn’t go on like that any longer.

Two weeks in the hospital. It nearly killed me, and I don’t say that lightly. For some, it’s the best thing in the world. For others, for me, it threatened to make me worse. But! It got me on the meds I needed on the dose I needed quickly. I didn’t have to work my way up, because I was under supervision. It broke through the crust that had formed over my life. I still find it extremely painful to recall, but it was necessary.

The next several years were hard. The medication made me functional, but I had a marriage to repair, and not a whole lot of communal understanding. I didn’t have a bad community. No. I just wasn’t open about what I was going through, or how difficult it really was. I still had a great deal of that stigma deeply internalized. I didn’t think they would want to know. I was still trying to not. be. difficult.

So I’ll talk about what I went through. I’ll talk about what I still go through. I’ll keep talking about it. I’ll be difficult. Because it is difficult.

Because you, or someone you know, might still be hiding it because they’ve been convinced that they’re a failure, or a burden. You, or they, might believe it when they’re told they don’t have it that bad and have no right to complain. You, or they, might feel guilty or ashamed.

I’m going to talk about it. I’m going to keep talking about it. Because it’s an illness. If you have this illness, you need medical help. Sometimes, you can learn to manage symptoms without medication. Just like sometimes you can manage autoimmune diseases through non-pharmaceutical methods. Yes, you have to change the way you think instead of the way you eat, (though adjusting your diet can be a big help, too,) but therapy is still medical treatment.

So I’ll talk.

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