It was a beautiful Sunday and, for once, I was the customer instead of the sales clerk, strolling through the bookstore as if I had all the time in the world. It was a beautiful Sunday for another reason as well-it was beautiful because I had just come out of another depressive episode recently, and I felt good. It felt good to be Me again.
I have had Depression for quite some time now, and my life has been characterized by the emotional highs and lows that come with such a disease. However, this year, instead of trying to “beat past it” and “push through it” like most people so kindly and inaccurately advise Me, I decided to get help. I went to my Doctor and set up my very first appointment with a psychiatrist.
I was super nervous-Psychiatry is a field of Medicine that has such a bad rep! I swear, what’s the big deal about Mental Illness anyway? Is your brain not allowed to get sick from time to time? Why is Diabetes acceptable, Hypothyroidism sympathetic and Arthritis understandable, but Mental Illness is the whack job?
I still don’t understand the stigma…
But anyways, I was really nervous about my psych appointment, and not because of the afore-mentioned reasons stated above, but because I didnt know how to explain how I felt. I could not find the words to describe my state of mind and I was afraid that I would not be able to explain myself. The frustration led to fear, which led to anger and eventually, it made me cry. Uncontrollably. Snot everywhere!
How do I tell a psychiatrist that I feel like a Failure? Like I am being punished by Life? That I don’t deserve anything good to happen to Me? That I screwed up so badly, I dont think I will ever get out of this rock bottom phase of my life? How do you say those things out loud to a stranger?
These thoughts consumed me during my Depressive episode, but they eventually passed. And I was able to see my psychiatrist, who was very nice, and describe my situation to her to the best of my ability. (I only went through 1 box of tissues! Yay!)
It felt good to talk about my Depression. Really, really good.
But it got me thinking…Other than my Psych, who would get this stuff? When I’m asked how I am doing, how do I convey this to people?
I was thinking of this in the bookstore that day when I came across Alice Hoffman’s new book Faithful. In this fantastic read, a young girl with her whole life ahead of her gets into a car accident and survives. The life she had planned for herself disappears in a flash and the Survivor’s guilt eats away at her for many years until, one day, a guardian angel gives her the will to pick up the pieces and start over
I had always wanted to read this book, (i put it down on my infamous list!) but that day I just opened up the book to a random page to see if it was something I really would like to get into. I came upon a paragraph at the bottom of a page and instantly, we connected. My eyes widened and my heart began to pound.
‘Whoa’ I thought, ‘This is Me! This is my inner dialogue exactly. Word for word..’
The main character had spoken aloud my exact feelings regarding my Depression. Every single thought, feeling…she got it. She Got Me!
You don’t know how elated I was to have someone understand these emotions so much, and write them out so plainly on the page. I wasn’t the only one out there who felt these things. People experienced it. People understood it. People conquered it. Life didn’t stop at Rockbottom. They too got their happy endings
Now I am not saying that I recovered from this book, or stopped seeking help for my own Depression. No I did not do that. But it was nice, no it was wonderful to know that someone understood Depression, and was able to put it into words and create a story that people would read and, for a brief period of time, would understand too.
That understanding-well, sometimes, it makes all the difference to Us.
Thank you very much Alice Hoffman-from the bottom of my Heart.