Birds of a Feather

Yes, it’s true. Like minded creatures tend to hang out with their own kind. I’ve recently conjured the theory that broken people make friends with other broken people. What do I mean by “broken”? Well, it’s those oddballs that cannot seem to process information because of anxiety, the ones who have panic attacks (in public!), the ones who have serious food issues, the ones who might avoid a crowded store no matter how much they need toilet paper, and so on.

For the record, I am all of those. I was lucky to have met my also-broken-husband at a fairly young age and we’ve managed to grow old and more broken together. I’ve noticed that out of the few friends I do have, they’re all on meds. Or at least, should be. That’s OK because so am I. It’s OK to talk about it, really! How else are you going to know that you’re broken?

This is a good thing. We broken people tend to be more empathetic to other broken people, especially once we get to know each other. We understand anxiety, panic, PURE FRUSTRATION, and the lack or inability to handle all of it. We can give a pat on the back or a little hug and you know: We understand. And there’s nothing we can do to help but be here and listen. Sometimes we might even smack you. Because you are broken.

It’s not a bad thing or something to be ashamed of. For some people, the toll of environment, stress, etc can lead to brokenness. For others, we’re just wired differently. There’s an embalance of something chemical, hormonal, emotional…we don’t really fully understand it yet. And that’s why medication can be a crap shoot.

Sometimes you simply have to admit you cannot fix this, you want to change, roll the dice and hope you don’t land on snake eyes for your first roll. OK, that’s really a bad example. Here, I will use myself as an example. I’ll give you the short version.

I had struggled with on-again, off-again depression for most of my life. In my thirties I decided to see a doctor and asked for some kind of low dose anxiety medication. Since it was December, he asked if it was because of “Christmas stress”. I literally laughed out loud. I gave this stranger the short-short version of my daily life which at the time was chaotic, stressful, and involved very little sleep.

What I didn’t tell him is that I was sucking it up all day and once alone in the car or shower I was crying a lot. I cried daily because I had no other outlet. A friend suggested that I scream and holler so I also did that in the car.

I’ve been on Paxil for two years now. It helps. And then it builds up in my system and doesn’t. I’m generally happy but I can get seriously depressed for no reason whatsoever. So I eat cheese. I like cheese. It makes me happy, even if temporarily. I often tell people, “You better be glad I have food issues because if I didn’t, I’d be a raging alcoholic.”
This is an example of an unhealthy way to deal with depression. I am not so depressed that I cannot function. I still do everything that needs to be done however, it’s like I’m on auto-pilot. I have no zest, no real compass, no drive, nothing is enjoyable. It usually lasts for a day or four then passes just like that. It’s really weird. Maybe I just need to up the meds a little.

My husband has issues too, but they’re very different than mine. We’ve been together 23 years because I am the most patient person on the planet. That’s his take on it. It took a lot of practice but I learned when to simply listen to him, walk away from him, argue with him, tell him, “You’re right, I’m wrong, I really don’t care!” when to hug him and when to scream at him.

Ah, marriage! Seriously, it wasn’t for my own brokenness, I would have committed murder-suicide years ago. Because of my own issues, I UNDERSTAND. I understood what he was going through even when he didn’t understand what I was going through.

That’s true love there. It’s really, really, really hard for some people to understand depression, anxiety, all that stuff when they themselves haven’t been through it. Once you’ve both gone down that path roughly 378 times, you can get through anything together.

I have a friend who is twelve years my junior and it took me a while but one day I realized, “Oh my God. You’re a young version of ME!” I never thought I could hang out with anyone like me. YUCK! But here we were, gabbing like two best girlfriends except one is a married 37 year old woman and the other is a 25 year old gay man.

But we get it. My friend has panic attacks over opening the mail because he’s afraid it’s going to be bad news. “Of course it is! But it could just be junk mail and you’ll never know unless you open it,” I told him. I’ve been there. If it’s bad news, I will just deal with it tomorrow. Today is not the day.

We get along really well because we are both broken. We also openly admit to be being broken. Yes, that’s a key aspect. I can figure out if you’re broken but if you admit it to me right away, we’ll have something to talk about immediately! We can compare notes and trade stories! Oh, this will be so much fun!

It makes me feel less broken. I feel normal when I talk to others about my issues. Maybe this IS normal. We’re all assholes until we get on the right medication and then we’re just slightly less of of an asshole.

Well, maybe just some of us.

Regardless of the situation, if you want things to be better, if you’d like a change…YOU HAVE TO DO IT. If you’re not happy, figure out something that would bring happiness to you life. A pill won’t do it but for some people, it’s a start. It helps lift that black fog some people function under. For others, it controls rage and dials it down. Some may need to be on meds their whole life while others can ween themselves off.
But you cannot blame anyone else. Maybe someone hurt you badly or you had a string of seriously bad luck. You can choose to stay down, under the black fog. Or you can chose to do something about it.

It’s your choice.
In the meantime, my crazy pills are working overtime just to deal with you.

1amm43

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