Seriously, life lessons from The Princess Bride, for the win, right? Right.
It is, admittedly, only slightly unnerving to put oneself out there to the "world," (i.e. the two dozen people who read my blog) when it comes to something you haven't even wanted to share with those closest to you (e.g. my downward spiral into the throes of ofttimes paralyzing depression and anxiety). Contrast that with the ultimate awesomeness of being able to use "i.e." and "e.g." correctly and effectively in one sentence, and you start to get a real sense of what I've been going through for the past few weeks. I mean, right? Finally, after decades of writing (I mean, not decades of writing, of course, just decades of regular boring ol' writing), I made the effort to etch the difference between the two into my brain recently and am so thrilled, I couldn't wait to have an opportunity to show off my mad grammar skillz. So don't ruin it by quizzing me on what they actually stand for in Latin, okay? Just don't.
So, you know, I was all, yeah, be honest with the world! It'll be so awesome and cathartic! I'll do that! Then I was all, oh, holy fuck, what have I done?! Now I've confirmed for everyone what they've probably suspected all along! Shit! NOW THEY'LL THINK I'M ME!
So I hid a bit. And then, while I was hiding, King Toad Agooga contracted some sort of horrendous stomach/intestinal bug, so there were lots of emergency baths and carpet-cleaning sessions (did I mention we have carpet in half the house now? Yeah...) interspersed with my hiding. And then The Goblin Queen decided to flex her storytelling muscles by leading us to believe she had swallowed a nail, so she had her second ER visit in the less than two months we've been in our new house, and third visit overall in her short but clearly exciting little life. To KTA's zero, of course. Girls, right? Anyway, and then some other stuff also happened while I was hiding, and more stress was dumped into our lives, and so I hid some more.
But never fear! I'm actually still here! And through it all, I've been seeing my therapist weekly and that has absolutely been one of the best decisions I have made in recent memory. Why?
BECAUSE THERAPY IS FUCKING AWESOME, THAT'S WHY.
I realize plenty of people still scoff at the idea of therapy or, more tragically, those who seek it, but therapy should be the default for everyone. Seriously. Instead of so often not discussing the fact that some of us are in (and hopefully benefitting from) therapy, why are we not collectively wondering why everyone isn't in therapy? "Wait, what? He doesn't go to therapy?? Who doesn't go to THERAPY?!"
Because, seriously, who the hell doesn't want to sit on a comfy couch and talk about themselves and their problems and have an experienced individual toss out little inspirational gems every once in a while? I mean, yes, I get that lots of people probably don't want to do that, but you guys are missing out. Big time. And I rarely use that phrase (for various reasons), so you now know how emphatically I mean that. BIG. TIME.
I fully admit that the individual therapist clearly has an enormous impact on the productivity of said therapy, and I got super lucky to be matched with a therapist who seems to be exactly what I need right now. You know how I know that? Because I always leave his office feeling FABULOUS. He's an older gentleman who reminds me of maybe what grandfathers can and should be, which is in stark contrast to both of my now-deceased grandfathers who were pretty much dicks. I mean, they had their moments, and were fairly good people in some respects, but they were in absolutely no way the kind, caring, involved grandfathers some people are blessed with. So while I've always had female therapists in the past and generally prefer female doctors as well, I'm finding I really, really appreciate my current therapist's energy and insight. And because he's so neato, I fear going forward you will hear the phrase, "My therapist said..." far more than anyone probably wants to. And for that, I'm extremely sorrynotsorry.
One of the things he's helping me to realize is how much of the behaviour I really despise in myself is actually a direct result of my mental health issues, those same mental health issues I almost never give myself credit for, even though I've clearly dealt with them the vast majority of my life. One of those behaviours, of course, is having an extraordinarily difficult time finishing or maintaining things, whether big things like a degree, or smaller things like, oh, I don't know...blog posts. You wanna know how many posts I've begun but never finished in the past few weeks? Lots. (I don't know the exact number because I've deleted most of those neglected beginnings, but I'm pretty sure it's more than four and less than eight, and whatever that mystery number is qualifies as "lots" for the purposes of this example, so you'll just have to deal with it.)
Because damn, am I good at starting stuff. Throughout my 87 or so years of college, I started way more classes than the number of ones I actually finished. Like, I should probably have at least six degrees by now with the number of potential credits I threw away over the years. Okay, maybe not six, but at least one, man. Projects around the house? I love to start those! Our old house was chock full of started projects and exactly none of them were ever really finished to completion. Friendships? In general, I make new friends easily. But at some point along the way, I either slowly--or sometimes very abruptly--disappear from relationships, and it often has very little if anything to do with the other person. I'm quite literally the worst when it comes to friendships. My social anxiety kicks in and I start stressing over things I said or did that the other person probably didn't even notice or attach any sort of negative meaning to if they did happen to be paying attention. I stop returning calls and texts and emails for no other reason than that interacting with people drains my energy like nothing else. The Barbarian became amazed early on in our relationship at how much of a phenomenally gregarious, highly likable, endlessly entertaining person I can be, with a penchant for making people feel really good about themselves. I can and will fearlessly chat up anyone and everyone, regardless of gender or social standing, in any type of gathering or situation, and generally leave everyone I interact with with a super neato impression of me. As someone who has worked in sales for many, many years, The Barbarian knows what a beneficial and desirable trait that is, and owns said trait in spades himself. But his amazement really came from the fact that that trait is operated by a switch I control, and I can and do go from 0-60 and back again near instantaneously. And for every hour I spend "on," I swear I need likes three days in the "off" position to recenter myself, and that can obviously be an enormous hurdle when it comes to maintaining relationships.
One particularly fascinating thing my therapist said the other day that I have been pondering ever since is that it's possible to have an attachment to un-attachment. We were discussing my habit of extreme purging, wherein I ruthlessly get rid of so much stuff on a regular basis, I find myself occasionally regretting my decisions on what goes. But then, of course, my consumerist self eventually accumulates more crap to be sorted and purged at a later date. It finally struck me that this concept applies to other areas of my life as well, such as relationships and all the other things I enjoy starting but at some point decide I can't or don't want to finish or maintain. And it's dawning on me that much of it comes down to expectations placed on or directed at me from other people and situations. I become nearly paralyzed in the face of expectations. Whether it's an expectation from a professor that I'll do the requisite work to finish a class, or an expectation from a friend that I'll return a text in a timely manner (or ever), or an expectation from my neighbours that I'll keep my lawn mowed, or a general expectation from my family and others that I'll actually do something awesome and productive with my life. And for someone as intelligent, capable, personable, insightful, and creative as I am, that is essentially the most absurd thing EVER.
But you know what? That's chronic depression and anxiety for you. They're insidious assholes who eventually take over your entire life and person so thoroughly and completely, you sometimes forget they're even there. You forget that you're not just lazy or rude or forgetful or non-commital. You forget that you're simply not well. That your brain doesn't function like other brains function. You forget that you are still YOU. That somewhere buried deep in there is the control you seem to have lost over your own life without even realizing it was happening.
And so here we are. With the help of my therapist, I'm finally remembering that I'm broken, but also that the steering wheel of this lovely broken vessel I find myself in is still located in MY lap and that I actually DO have the power and authority to revoke licenses.
Because let me tell you--depression and anxiety are fucking shitty-ass drivers.
Even worse than Prius drivers.
And that's really saying something.
PS... I have good friends who are Prius drivers and I'm sure not ALL Prius drivers suck, but seriously, for the love of all that's efficient yet plays nicely with others, GET OUT OF THE FAST LANE.