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It feels vaguely hypocritcal to sit alone and watch Intervention while drinking wine, especially so when you talk directly to the TV with your advice, criticisms and insight, no matter how humorous they may seem to you.

There are worse things I could be doing on the Tuesday night before Thanksgiving.

Karissa is a heroin addict who also takes benzos (aka Klonopin) and is about to face an intervention with her family and friends. I feel sorry for her because I know she isn’t going to take this well. They never do.

She is clearly depressed, a condition I am more than familiar with. I have a few friends who have experienced depression, whether currently or at some point in their lives-whether they realize it or not. More importantly it’s a battle I fight on a daily basis. It’s a fierce beast some days, a nagging splinter under my skin other days. It’s overwhelming and incapacitating, sometimes ruling my day and spoiling the joy I imagine for myself.

The hardest part is the lack of understanding people who have never experienced this type of abysmal sadness have. If you’ve never fought depression, there’s no way to know exactly how it feels to pray you’ll get hit by a runaway bus. I dread interaction with others. Even the most simple transaction, like buying gas or running into a talkative neighbor can be panic inducing. I have lost friendships and alienated people I love because they failed to understand that this isn’t about them. This isn’t personal. It’s something I can’t control despite my best attempts to try.

The tricky part is how you choose to deal with it. Sometimes you simply can’t. You’re a helpless marionette that just struggles to do the daily movements it takes to survive. Other days, the control comes back to you and you’re able to make healthy choices. Maybe even find nuggets of happiness in your day.

A good friend that I confided in a few years ago told me to try and do one good thing, one positive thing for myself every single day. Sometimes it could be taking a solitary walk, sometimes it’s doing something nice for someone else. The beauty of that one positive thing is that it can become addicting. It feels good to do good and eventually and with practice, doing positive things becomes easier and one thing a day turns into two, and three, and then four.

Karissa clearly hasn’t found a way to do that yet, at least this far into the episode. It’s heartbreaking to watch someone in pain who doesn’t have the tools or the support system to change their behaviors, and drug and alcohol addiction eventually robs them of even being able to make choices. Maybe this is why I talk to the TV, because I understand what Karissa is going through in some small way. I’ve just been fortunate enough to not have gone down as rough a path and I hope that I never will.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I love being able to take a few days to eat until I’m fat and sassy and think about all the things in life that I’m appreciative of. Many friends have drifted away, some casualties of my depression, others whose lives just went another direction. I can’t explain to them how much they meant to me or what I was going through, I can’t apologize to people I inadvertently hurt or drifted away from. But I can thank the friends I have now that take me at face value and love me for who I really am. They take me for the good days and the bad days and the really awful days and are there for me anyway. I have a family that loves me and people I can go to when I need someone to talk to or want to hear someone else’s voice. I am thankful for who I have, far more than the things I own (which I forget sometimes) and I try to use this time of year to keep it all in perspective.

None of us are perfect, and we can’t be everything for everyone all the time. But we can’t give up either. We have to want a better lives for ourselves and have to try to do that one positive thing daily, whatever that might be. Doing something good for ourselves is not selfish. Improving ourselves helps us to grow and be stronger for the times when we can show our friends and family the support that they’ve shown us when they need us.

Thanks to all of you for reading this. I hope this week you are able to see the joy in your life and the richness that our family and friends provide and that, wherever you are or whatever you’re doing, you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Let us appreciate what is truly important.

In the interest of positivity, I’m going to turn off Karissa, who went to rehab in case you were curious, and am going to soak in the bath with a book. Because I totally deserve it.

 

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