Saturday, November 22, 2014

You Can Watch Me Cry

   "You can cry if you want. Crying is good. Sometimes it helps," my therapist encourages me.
    It's Friday and I'm confessing all that's happened this week. My grandma, my Mimi, is dying. I'm starting lab and classes and teaching are ongoing, and it's such a maelstrom of wonderful and horrific I'm grappling for any distractions and numbness I can find.
    "I don't like crying where anyone will find me," I reply, avoiding her eyes. There's a box of tissues on the table between us, but I don't want to use them. I don't like using tissues.
     I've told her my history of depression and anxiety and suicide in disturbing depth and I haven't choked up at all. I can get through this.
    "Is there a quiet place you can go here where you can cry?" she presses.
    "A bathroom, I guess," I say hesitantly. "But I'm afraid people will hear me."
    I don't want anyone to see me cry.

    Anyone who knows me knows I'm pretty sensitive.
    I'm easily overwhelmed by crowds, and I cried regularly at my favorite movies and music - in fact, I even cried watching the new trailer for Disney's live-action Cinderella.
    I analyze every word people say - if there's a hint of negatively, I'm scared, and careless comments often hurt. On the flip side, I'm neurotic about whatever words come out of my mouth.
    I've been known to scream and collapse into a sobbing ball every time I see another ISIS killing or school shooting on the news.
    The single sighting of a fluffy animal will change my bad days into good.
    So, yeah, I've always been told I'm sensitive, and it's true. Too sensitive, really.
    But I had to be, didn't I, because I always wanted to keep people from anger? I believed that if I acted a certain way, if I was sensitive to their emotions, I could control the people I loved. I believed that hyper-vigilence and sensitivity would elevate my relationships to the point that no one would ever feel angry at me. Sensitivity would keep me safe.
    But this sensitivity backfired whenever I cried because someone misunderstood me or because someone was reacting with anger greatly disproportionate to the event. I was told my tears were childish, ridiculous.

    Then I went to college and allowed myself to be influenced by the scientific stereotype: the stereotype that tears are emotional, illogical, stupid.
    And then, as is typically the case with stereotypes, I actually met scientists. And the vast majority, well, showed emotion and it was absolutely scary and wonderful.
    But I have to admit, though the fear has greatly lessened, I'm still a bit scared to show my emotions around my scientist friends.
     These things take time, I suppose.

    "I don't want people to think I'm stupid or weak," I confess to the therapist after explaining my confusing relationship with emotion.
    "I don't think that's weak," she replies in surprise. "I think you are tough."
    "I've never heard someone call me tough," I tell her. Never.
    Well, yeah I've been through more depressive bouts than I would care to admit - the dark depths of which I would be scared to show you. I'm alive despite my mental health and I'm not engaging in my eating disorder habits. For some reason I can't give up writing or chemistry despite the fact that they don't always fit, and I want to be a Christian despite all the reservations I feel. I mother two feisty kittens, doggone it.
    We talk some more about my love of mystery and magic (more on that in a later post), and then it's time for me to leave.
    "You are tough," she repeats.
   I think maybe, just maybe, we're all a lot tougher than we give each other credit for. And maybe - oh how I hope - the tears I cry alone and occasionally in the hospice with my Mimi are a sign of weakness that is actually strength.
    Maybe strength comes in weakness.
    So here's a hug.

Love you all.

P.S. Is anyone else out there thinking the entire universe is probably just a gargantuan, mysterious paradox?

Monday, November 10, 2014

I'm Backkkkk...And So Is My Unwelcome Fiend

    I really didn't mean to pull a vanishing act. My muse just...died.
    Along with my feelings, it seems.
    Because my depression decided midterm season was a fan-tast-ic time to return.
    And I was like: no. Depression can't come back. I'm on medication and I have friends and cats. Please. I'm just a bit down because my grandma is sick and my synthesis exam was the intellectual equivalent of a crucio curse.
    Never ming the familiar dull ache, the lack of interest in pretty much everything slowly spreading throughout my life. Never mind that day-after-day I felt the urge to scream and cry while sitting in my physical organic chemistry class (which I really like, for the record). Never mind the restlessness, the need to flee and find magic far away because there's no more life around or in me.
    Never mind the lie that this blog is crap and I'm going to lose all my friends by blogging terribly.

    Maybe I need to see a counselor again, but it's normal to feel stressed because look at all that's going on. I'm not depressed. I can't be. I'm supposed to wean off these antidepressants soon. I've been doing so well.
    I'm not suicidal this time, not even close, so I'm fine. 
    And yet...I'm not fine. I just want to cry. I'm scared and abnormally tired and sleep just sprays weird dreams across my weary mind. (Not that I altogether mind the dreams, since they're great fodder for stories, but more rest would be welcome).

    Still, I don't want to return to a counselor. Not because it's not helpful - it is. Not because I'm scared of them agreeing that my depression is back. Looking back, I've probably had depressive episodes since I was thirteen.
    I don't want to return because what if the counselor says I'm not depressed? What if she says I'm just a selfish, self-deluded narcissist who blames everything on her mental health because I like excuses and want to feel special?
    Ouch, that hurt to write. I guess my fear, after all this time, remains that I'm a horrible person.

    I guess I could deal with having depression, even though depression is hardly okay. I just want myself, me, to be okay. To be lovable and a good person.
    I just want to feel worthy of love. Maybe that's weak or silly or whiny, but love must be paramountly important, right? Look around us - we all need love. I really believe that.
    So I guess maybe that's why the phrase "God is love" sucks me in.
    I guess that's why I just want to hug all my friends, online and in person, and hope they know I love them, too - I love them fiercely even through the numbness.
    (Actually, I'd be down to hug nearly everyone who ever existed. If that makes me crazy, so be it).

    In working through this not-so-sane post, I see it's a good thing I made that weekly therapist appointment again. And that I found this picture:

    So, yup. That's what's been going on with me. What's been going on with you? How can I pray for you or listen to you? <3