fireun: (Default)
I realize I am terribly lucky. I can look at [ profile] djkc and say 'I am depressed today. No reason. Just am. Wanted to give you the heads up/warning' and he is good with that.

And that is what it took for me to be ok with the fact I get depressed, that I have a sometimes debilitating anxiety problem. I needed to be able to vocalize it, and have someone nod, accept it as an honest problem, and offer support and understanding. Before that, the best advice I could get was 'deal with it, everyone gets depressed'. That attitude, making light of the mountains getting in my way, made everything harder, and made it harder for me to admit I should see a doctor and actually go to one.

I finished my second graduate degree at 30- but I only have one actual degree to show for it. I got so anxious, and as a result so depressed, while working on my Masters of Philosophy, that I dropped out after writing the draft of my thesis. I had no support structure, I had even lost my advisor and any faculty members I thought cared. I was terrified at the thought of defending the thesis (even though I will go on and on about it at great lengths, even now, in casual company) and equally terrified of telling my parents I had dropped. If I had talked to anyone in a medical capacity I would probably have those two shiny Master diplomas on my wall. One of those regrets floating around- this was a workable obstacle, but it seemed insurmountable at the time. After dropping? I spent a lot of time angry at myself for being anxious, yelling at myself in my own head, which led to self loathing and depression. Awful, roiling depression.

And that is the thing with depression and its partner in crime anxiety. From inside the head of someone dealing with those things, everything is bigger and scarier and harder. And a lot of that comes from the isolating feel of suffering from anxiety or depression. Hell, I couldn't even go to the neighbors to let them know their dogs had gotten out last weekend because people I don't know are a huge anxiety trigger. Such a little, easy thing to do, knock on a door. I could not do it.

What helps is breaking through that isolation. And a lot of that isolation is self imposed by the depressed/anxious. We do it to ourselves- holing up or pretending everything is fine. And that does not help. Hence these sporadic blog posts. Hence my deep appreciation for [ profile] djkc. Hence my willingness to chat with any of you who might want to- just drop me a line. fireun 3 @gmail. com.
fireun: (Default)
Saturday, on the way home, I locked myself out of my car- down the street from my parents' house, in the parking lot of a Starbucks. I continued on my way into the Starbucks, borrowed the phone to call my parents as my phone was also locked in the car, bought the coffee I had originally stopped for, and went outside to wait for my ma.

My mother handed me her phone and told me to call AAA.

And I couldn't. And it occurs to me now, looking back, that this was the first time someone who does not see me regularly got to see my anxiety problem in full swing. I got the expected response from my mother when I shook my head violently 'No.'

"You are 31. Call."

And, much to my frustration and chagrin, I started to cry. And I fumbled around some words, and my mother finally realized I was not kidding or playing it up when I mention that I have an anxiety problem. She made me get into the car, and asked nothing more strenuous of me than my plate number as she called AAA.

I have gotten better over the years at noticing when I am going to run into my anxiety wall- they are not quite 'attacks'. It is more like getting boxed into myself, and the more people try to tell me there is nothing to be worried about, the worse it gets, as the only thing I can do in that box is get frustrated and upset with myself. I can recognize I am reacting irrationally, but there is very little I can do about it. I have developed a system over the years, a sort of short cut through the mental arguments and irritation that used to bog me down for up to an hour. 

15 minutes later I was able to tip the AAA fellow after he cunningly forced my door, made a joke with my mother, and was able to drive the couple hours home.

Anxiety and depression, the two devils on my shoulders doing their best to make me fumble and bumble my way through life. You know what the best way to fight back is? To share. I can never communicate when I am depressed. When I am anxious. But I know what is going to trigger my anxiety. I didn't get my drivers license until I was 29. [ profile] djkc made me realize I had a bit of a problem when the thought of driving got me so anxious I cried at him. Simply driving to the store. 

Talking to [ profile] djkc. Talking to everyone who will listen. Sharing my stories and experiences. It lets other folks know they aren't crazy, and it does get better. And really, that's the best way to fight these insidious little devils. To determine I am not crazy, and that this is something that can be dealt with- but it cannot be dealt with alone. That is the trick to it.

I know the things that are going to set off my anxiety- there is a common connection between the worst instances. I make sure to communicate when I am having 'off' days, or when I am entering situations that may trigger an anxiety wall. I talk to people about what I am like to do. I can manage it better, and that has made a world of difference. Driving to Rochester and back, alone, was a huge victory for me- even with the Incident of the Keys.

March 2015

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