(Full disclosure: I’ve had seven hot toddies (bourbon! lemon juice, tea, and honey), so, in addition to the effects of the steroids and the antibiotics and the respiratory meds… I may be writing under the effect of the….tea.)
I didn’t know I was sick. I mean, I knew I felt terrible, but I’ve felt terrible like this before. It always passed. I felt weak and low and distracted and not myself, like I’d rather disappear than have to tackle the day in front of me….but I assumed it was a *virus* and that it would pass. I’m healthy, right? I have all the advantages of this world, right? What in the world do I have to be sick about? And yet, there I was: weak and low and distracted and not myself. It didn’t lift.
I didn’t recognize how bad I was, how it hurt just to breathe, how short-tempered and strange I was, until someone did it for me. “You’re really sick, you need help. I will help you. Here’s how…” is what it took for me to get it. I couldn’t see my own pain, my own sense of self slipping away, my own head bobbing in the darkness. I needed someone to find me in the hole, put their hands under my armpits, and pull me up. I couldn’t find footing. I didn’t know I should be trying.
I’m writing this as I recover from pneumonia, as my body slowly, slowly (why so fucking slowly, HONESTLY!?) finds its way back to some semblance of breath and focus and harmony….but I’m thinking about how I never recognize my own low, physically, or mentally. I need someone else to do it for me, because I will just keep pushing through, like an ant carrying a sandwich 20 times its weight, or a footballer moving toward the line of oncoming dudes who also football…? (Sorry, I thought I could hang with the sports analogies, but, no.)
I don’t stop, even when I desperately need to. It’s a self-loathing, I don’t matter, everyone else matters more kind of thing, from which I’m trying to heal, but meanwhile, it’s stupid and it sucks. (See how I self-motivate?) I keep on as if things are fine, as if things are do-able, because they are close enough, and I will do them…but it’s not right, or healthy, or fine. I need help. I need someone watching me, knowing me, loving me, enough to tell me to stop and sit down, to deal with it, face it, to go get more, better help.
I hope everyone has a spouse or lover or friend or parent who can tell them when they’re not being them and that they need to get help. Not just that, but can make a plan to get them to where the help is, because when you’re lost in the mess of yourself, you can’t always figure out where your next footstep should fall, and you need someone to show you a well-lit, extremely clear path to walk.
Regarding depression, I almost never recognize when it’s bad until it’s real bad, because (insert loads of reasons why the day, the week, this phase may have been rough) I don’t. I get swallowed up by it and I can’t see myself, much less the way out. I need someone to see me, to know me, to love me, to lift me up and light by path. It’s asking a lot of those people, but I have to believe I’m worth it.
Here’s why I’m worth it: I see in color, lots of color, even if many of them are blue. I love and live in these same colors. My bluest pain is real, and consistent, and integral to who I am, but it makes me sharp and real and open to others’ pain. I see you back. Even your blues. I think living in these blue shades makes me more aware, and comfortable with, other people’s shades of blue. It’s hard to be me sometimes, and it’s hard to love me sometimes, too, but living in color is a worthwhile way to live.
Anyway, I don’t know any other way to do it, then with vulnerability, and openness and ache. It’s the only way that has ever made sense to me, even if it complicates things. I’ll live in color, even if it’s mostly blues.
If you live in blues, too, it’s OK. Blues are beautiful, and they’re part of you. You are beautiful. Just keep yourself surrounded by those who will help light your pathway back up when the you need to get out of the dark and back into the color.