I need to talk to people about my depression and anxiety. There, I said it. It's a really hard topic to breach. I don't really know how to let it out. And part of me feels like it's this dirty little secret that I have, and that if I share it I am somehow making people accomplices to misery. When people ask me, "How are you," I really sometimes want to reach out and just answer candidly.
At the beginning of yoga practice, there's a time when we go around the room and people mention their injuries and how they are feeling. Some people mention knee injuries, others have tendinitis, and some people convey an overall frazzled feeling. Sometimes I just want to say, "Today and everyday I have mild to moderate Major Depression and off the hook Generalized Anxiety disorder." I want to explain to them that my periodic absences aren't because I don't like yoga, or am not committed to my practice, just sometimes I can't get out of my pajamas and off the couch.
Then there's school. I've made passing jokes to my peers about needing medication since beginning graduate school. I also have one peer who knows about my hair pulling (is a hair puller, as well). But we don't discuss those things at school. And it just stops there. We have study groups, and people are friendly and socially supportive, but I feel like a freak unloading myself onto them. I don't want to be the rambling headcase.
Then there are my parents. My father doesn't understand mental illness. I mean, he grasps the concept, but he thinks that any amount of effort and determination can pull a person out of depression. He has encouraged me to flush my medications down the toilet and pull myself up by the bootstraps. If only it were that simple.
Then there's my mom. A huge wedge between us now (that I feel, which I don't believe she feels) is that my mom cannot possibly understand why or how I have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety or even have struggled with Trichotillomania. My mom has had a particularly hard life, and she doesn't understand how I could be so depressed with all of the privilege I've had in my life: an childhood in an idyllic place, 16 years of dance lessons, an ivy league education, travels abroad. It's something she's never been able to accept. I was 13 the first time I approached my mom and said, "Mom, I think I'm depressed and I want to go to the psychologist." To which she replied, "Oh sweetie, you're not depressed, you just think too much."
And there's O. who is completely and totally unconditionally here for me. But it gets to a point where I can't be this needy, weepy blob all the time. O. isn't depressed. He doesn't pull out his hair. Sometimes he's obsessive, but in a totally determined "I won't quit" way, and while he will stay here by my side for eternity (I hope).
I have one absolutely best friend on whom I depend, with whom I can talk about this openly, but we unfortunately have not lived in the same state since 2003.
So I've determined two things:
I need to find a support group. What I need, really, right now, is some intense Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, but unfortunately I don't have time for that right now. Or money. There aren't any groups listed on Craiglist. I am a semester long veteran of an anxiety support group at UT, but in all honesty it wasn't helpful for me at all. I need something that is perhaps a bit more challenging. If I have to, I will start my own. I might have to wait until I go to Durham. But, so be it.
I also am going to start a separate blog about the topic. Basically, a recovery blog. A blog about recovering from hair pulling, a blog about trying to be healthier, and a blog about living with depression and anxiety. Because I need to talk about it. I'm not sure that this is the right forum. I mean, this blog has always had a sort of hybrid existence. Partially about moving to Texas, partially about being an ex-expatriate in Chile, partially about having an international marriage. Sometimes it's about my blended family. Sometimes it's about cooking. But sometimes, like with the people around me, I don't want to unload these feelings in a place where people might not feel like reading them. I mean, maybe you get here because you're googled, "Chilean men" (as many people do) or maybe you've arrived here from another Expat in Chile's blog and you just sort of blind-sided by all this content that maybe you didn't want to deal with in the first place. I guess the bottom line is that if you don't relate to this, you probably don't want to read it, and you probably have nothing more to say but, "Oh, feel better, soon." But there are others with whom I really feel I've connected, who might find some odd ounce of solace knowing there are other functioning people around facing the same problems. I don't know if it's fair or wise to mix the two.