Enough. That’s enough, now. Time to change focus, and look toward something better.
I’m tired, and a bit down in the dumps today, but it could have been a lot worse. A couple of things happened that put a plug in the drain, and stopped the downward spiral. One of those things was reading a blog post. That’s it – so simple. I was just taking a short break from wallowing in self pity. I get on my computer to distract myself and voila – there it was. One little nugget that helped change my trajectory EVER so slightly.
Just Blogging Along, Minding My Own Business
I started my blog inspired in part by another writer who has chosen to share their own story, although she’s WAY better at it. She is funny and quite divine, in my opinion. I see her as incredibly brave, although I’m not sure she sees herself that way. Lately she has been sharing her experience with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. You can read more about that on her blog at http://thebloggess.com. In short, it is a treatment for depression that involves sending magnetic pulses into the brain.
When she started describing it, I was horrified and quite certain that never in a million years would I be able to make myself do that. I wished her well, but wondered how in the world she got herself to go through with it. Honestly, it sounds horrifying. I can’t even think about it too much without feeling panic starting to rise. Yet, she did it. IS doing it.
It sounds like it might be working! Her post today made me cry, because she wrote about experiencing what most people take for granted. A full day out with her daughter, shopping and having fun. The idea of a vacation in which she could actually participate. The things that healthy people just…well…DO…and maybe even take for granted.
Just a Day, Like Any Other Day
I have been painfully aware lately how far from that reality I have come, and I’ve been wallowing in self pity about it. I’ve been very focused on what I can’t do. In my own defense, sometimes it’s just too much, and wallowing is the best I can do while I wait and hope for a glimmer of an upswing sometime SOON.
I know that my “tribe” understands – even those friends who can’t really comprehend the limits of my world are understanding in their lack of judgment. The ones who really know me trust that I am doing the best that I can.
My other tribe is made up of an army of people I’ve never actually met. I found them because technology has given us all this great gift of connection. Oh, to be sure, the gift comes at a high price. With the good that the internet and Google and Facebook, etc, bring, they also bring a down side.
For me, however, the gifts far outweigh the cost, because when I can’t go OUT, I can still connect. I can chat with a friend in Thailand, or video call my soul sister in Seattle, or exchange emails or texts with yet another “chosen sister” in Arizona, or chat on Facebook with long lost friends from high school. I can write out my thoughts and share them with other people who live with similar challenges, thus creating a tribe of a whole different ilk.
I Love That Word – Tribe
I know it’s trendy and there are probably people who hate it, but I love the word “tribe” as it has been used lately. I resisted liking it for a while – I like to imagine that I am NOT trendy. But…tribe is such a good word! Google says a tribe is: “a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader.”
I don’t know how I feel about the recognized leader part, but the rest is spot on for how I feel about this group of people I’ve never met, that I found on the interwebs. A community, linked, with a common culture and dialect…that’s how I feel when I read about other people who, like me, live a life limited by their bodies and brains.
Thanks to the gift of the internet, I have a tribe that “gets it”. That understands that going to a movie AND shopping is out of the question. People who understand that if we get the kitchen cleaned it’s highly unlikely we’ll also be able to cook a meal. OR, people who have fought the same battles with anxiety and depression. People who have also curled up under their covers, wishing everything would just fix itself. Whether their life parameters are defined by depression or anxiety or chronic pain or some combo-pack of all of the above, there are a LOT of us out there living like this.
A Tribe With No Leader
Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess) was my introduction into finding that online tribe, and her post today touched me because I felt known. I felt understood. She doesn’t know me personally, but she KNOWS me, and makes a difference in my life by sharing HER story and her bravery. I resist treatment, and she goes out and forces herself to keep trying. I hide in my apartment and wallow in self pity (sometimes – not ALL the time), and she lets a doctor put a vice around her head and beat her up with magnetic pulses, in hopes that she can have a real, normal, “out there” kind of life.
How she describes her struggles to function make me feel like I am not alone. That she is determined to find a way THROUGH…helps me believe that there might be hope. She helps me know that even if THIS treatment doesn’t work, THAT treatment might. The blogs and podcasts like hers, or “The Hilarious World Of Depression“, give those of us who maybe felt alone and left out a way to connect when we can’t be out there in person.
I don’t know if this blog will turn into something like that, eventually. So far it’s been mostly either me whining or me telling my story in the most awkward and painful way and then sending it out into the void. It’s good for me, I guess. It helps me look at my own bullshit, or see myself through someone else’s eyes, or maybe just get these stories from my past out of my head so I can finally let go.
It helps when even one person comments “That sucks! I’m sorry that happened.” I carry my past around too much – I have let it define me in ways I don’t like very much. That is true of my pain and mental health issues, as well. Pain has become part of my very identity. It is the beginning of every journey – whether down the hall or to the grocery store, or contemplating travelling to another state to celebrate a friend’s wedding.
The same with anxiety. As most people who suffer from an anxiety disorder know, anxiety about the anxiety is a formidable foe. Making yourself go and deliberately expose yourself to a situation that you believe – that you KNOW – will cause anxiety…causes anxiety. We aren’t making this up, either. We have historical data to back up our assumption that, yes, indeed, the next trip to the doctor is very likely to go like the last 20 or 30 trips.
Or maybe it’s not the doctor – maybe it’s the dentist, or the grocery store, or the friggin’ DMV. Or just some random setting in a random place where the crowds are too much, the noises too loud, the temperature too hot, or the smells are overwhelming. So, sure, we can try to imagine that THIS time will be different, and our hearts won’t beat out of our chests and our heads won’t pulse and our thoughts won’t spin and spin and spin.
Hard To Believe
Imagining doesn’t really fix it though. Counseling might, eventually, or meds, or a combination of these and other treatments. Or they might not. So far it’s most often NOT, for me. It makes it hard to imagine that the next time might be the thing that actually works. It’s almost impossible to imagine that I might ever feel better. I’ve been trying for 20 years, and I am worse today than I was a year ago, when I was worse than 5 years ago, etc, etc, etc. So far everything wrong with me has gotten progressively worse for more than 15 years now.
It’s enough to make a girl like me give up.
So, when I’m hiding at home, having given up, and I turn to the internet for distraction or comfort…it helps that there are theJenny Lawsons out there. People sharing their stories and their trials and triumphs. People brave enough to keep pushing on. Because if she can do it…then maybe I can do it. Not TODAY obviously…but maybe someday.
I wonder if she knows. I mean, if she TRULY knows how much she affects someone like me. I have never met her, or any of the other people I’ve found in blogs and podcasts that tell their stories and help me change mine. Now, however, they are part of my past and present, and they are helping to define who I will be in the coming months and years. If I were inclined to prayer, I would pray for them. Since I don’t pray, I guess I’ll just feel grateful for that connection, and hope that they get some magical good fortune from my gratitude.
I’m grateful that I live in a time when something like the internet lets me be part of a tribe – whether they be actual friends, or people who don’t even know I exist. I’m not sure I’d be able to navigate these next few months without that connection. In “real life”, I am isolated and alone in a city I don’t like where I know not one single soul other than my daughter.
But in the age of the interwebs, I am just a click away from at least one person, if not many more, that help me feel a little less stranded. A vast source of connection and information that helps me choose how I let my past and my pain affect me. I may not be strong today, but I can read about strong people. I may have been a victim in the past, but I can connect with people who have risen above a similar challenge, and created a happy life for themselves.
So maybe I give up for today. Maybe even for this week, or this month. But my tribe is out there…so I’m pretty sure I’ve not given up permanently. So, thanks Jenny…and the rest of my tribe. I’m here for you, too.