When you live with depression and anxiety you can’t be just anyone.
This week Mr. Wonderful and I were eating dinner in our local Chinese restaurant and discussing a new medication I’d been prescribed. It’s been almost a 12 month journey while my doctor mixes and matches medications to work out exactly what will work to control my symptoms. So the topic of medication is always on the agenda.
Frankly, I’ve not been coping with the newest medication. It makes me restless and irritable beyond what anyone should endure. Along with the usual side effects, it makes every task twice as difficult to complete and every thought twice as hard to think.
The disappointment of another medication that doesn’t make any difference to my symptoms isn’t just disappointing but, in many ways, is quite distressing. I just want to feel well. To stop struggling, not just with my illness but with the side effects of medication that promises something it can’t deliver to me.
As I lamented about another failure, apologising to Mr. Wonderful for being a burden, I told him I just wanted to be normal. I want to be like everyone else. Like you Mr. Wonderful. I want to be like you!
Interestingly, Mr. Wonderful’s expression didn’t change as he made two pertinent observations. In his calmest tone he told me he thought I should rethink the concept of normal. “This is your normal,” he said. Then he said, “you can’t be me or anyone one else and you need be you.”
I’ve said before that depression is not about happy or sad. It’s about the inability to see ourselves the way others see us. This is where it’s impossible not to address the apparent suicide of Robin Williams. A man who provided so much enjoyment and happiness to the world (evidenced by the tributes flooding in) and who yet, felt his life wasn’t worth living.
In Australia (approx.) 2500 people commit suicide every year. 2500 people who can’t reconcile how other people see them and how they see themselves. To this end I’ve made a deal with Mr. Wonderful. The deal is; I will not kill myself without telling him first. Of course I know that it seems ridiculous and that he’d not let me kill myself if he knew I was going to do it. But I know I have a deadly illness that works insidiously by convincing me my life is not worth living.
The symptoms are obvious; fatigue, feeling sick and ‘run down’, headaches and muscle pains, nausea, sleep problems, loss or change of appetite, significant weight loss or gain, tearfulness, guilt and indecisiveness just to name a few. They culminate in the sense that everyone would be much better off if I was dead, but the reality is that no-one want’s me to die (no matter how much I upset them).
No-one wanted Robin Williams to die, yet potentially he felt it was the only way to resolve the internal conflict between who he was and who he thought he was. The illness overwhelmed him.
I’ll get used to being me eventually and like many others I’ll cope with my symptoms but I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to the fact that others see me much differently to how I see myself. But I’m grateful for it.
From Robin Williams: No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.
If you need to talk to someone NOW call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Deb Shugg is an awarded businesswoman, wife & mother, author and a sufferer of depression and anxiety.
If you need help to deal with your symptoms see your doctor.
(Abuse of another person is NEVER okay. If you are being abused or, if you are an abuser please seek help.)