Authenticity, uncensored

This blog entry got posted, deleted, edited, and edited some more. But I've decided it's time to just throw it out there and be done with it.

Since I was about 18, in addition to my physical health issues, I've suffered from both disordered eating and major depressive disorder. Some of you know this, some of you don't. I've been on medication on and off, but none of it really helped. I've had some pretty rough nights where some of you have been called or e-mailed or texted while I was in "crisis" mode. Some of you knew it, and some of you didn't.

I've been ashamed to admit that I suffered from yet another illness, especially because there is a stigma attached to mental illness. If you have a therapist, then maybe you're Mariah-Carey-Crazy. But if you have a therapist and a psychiatrist, it takes you up a notch to Britney-Spears-Nuts. Not only that, but I hate playing the part of the invalid, the freak that's sick all the time while everyone else is normal and fun. So I put on a happy face and cover everything up with a lot of crap, because I don't want anyone to think there's anything wrong with me. One of my friends - and I wish I had paid more attention to her at the time - actually told me several months ago, when we were discussing Nationals, that she felt like I was constantly searching for "the next big thing" to cover up some unhappiness in my life. She was actually 100% right and I didn't even know it until it hit me over the head months later.

Clinical depression, as you might know, is more than just "feeling sad." It is an actual, diagnosable, treatable illness - a lifelong and potentially terminal illness, no less serious than cancer or Alzheimer's - that affects your ability to work, study, even breathe on a daily basis. It's often accompanied by a horrible, mind-seizing, body-numbing feeling of not being able to or having the power to do anything about anything in your life. Got 9 loads of laundry, can't do it. Dog is being feisty, can't discipline him. Got homework, it isn't getting done. You feel sad, blue, worthless, down, unhappy or just plain "out of it." You'd do anything to return to your "old self" and find some way to just "be happy." It is not a motivation issue. No amount of desire, list-making, prioritizing or theorizing will get it done, and there's nothing worse than people telling you just to "dig in and get it done," because you're physically incapable of doing it. It's also not an issue of being "negative" or "moody" or a "drama queen."

If this scares you off, or if you now think "I can't read her blog any more because she's got too many issues," then that's your choice. As I've told the few people who really matter, you can, with no hard feelings, be rid of me now. I just can't hide any longer under the pretense of "everything's ok." We all struggle, and too many people live their lives in denial - and, in the process, deprive themselves of the help, life, laughter and love that could bring them out of the dark.

This is something I've battled for most of my life, and I'm not going to fight it silently any more. If that loses me friends or respect, then it's something I'll just have to accept, because those who are closest to me should already know that it isn't easy being me, and it may not be easy being my friend. But at least you know one thing: I'm not hiding anything. And perhaps, through my honesty, I can help someone else who's suffering from the same illness (or family of illnesses) to be honest and accepting of theirs. I know of at least one person whose honesty has inspired me to be more accepting of myself, and at least two people who literally saved my life.

My only two goals in life are (and always have been) to live so that I inspire someone and to always be known as a person who took action. That's what I hope will be my legacy. If, by admitting this, I have somehow helped or inspired even one person, then the work I've set out to do in my life is done. But that doesn't mean my life is done. There's a lot more of that to live.

3 tidbits of wizdom:

RBR said...

If this scares you off, or if you now think "I can't read her blog any more because she's got too many issues," then that's your choice.

Ha! I would have to stop reading my own blog! The demons are always there but making a choice to live your life in the time in between takes balls, my dear.

Here's to your nice set! ;o)

This comes from a woman with three college degrees working on a forth, that ran 5 marathons this year and signed up for an Ironman triathlon. I know a little something about focusing on the 'next big thing'.

CPB said...

Sing it girlfriend!

Alili said...

Inspire others and take action-I would say that's one helluva legacy to leave and you are WELL on your way. Speak your mind in your own voice. You define authentic.

Good for you for going public.

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