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The other day I lied.
I was in the waiting room of the physical therapist’s office filling out the in-take form when I came to an unexpected question. It asked for the names of all the medications I take, but instead of listing them all (there’s only two), I omitted the Paxil. Hunched over the clip board, pen poised in the air over the form, I paused. Why does he need to know? What does the arthritis in my back have to do with my mental problems?
Although I’ve toyed with twisting the truth before, I’ve never actually gone through with it. I’ve always relented in honestly listing my meds because these are medical doctors we’re talking about, and the omission could have potential dangerous consequences. If questioned by the doctor about the medications listed, I just say the Paxil is for depression, which it is only that’s not the reason it was prescribed to me. Everyone’s on Xanax or Prozac or Zoloft these days so I know this little fib won’t raise an eyebrow. In fact, it’s probably expected. With so many people on meds, now there’s something wrong with you if you’re not medicated. (“You’re telling me you’re not on Xanax? What the hell’s wrong with you?”)
But that day sitting in the physical therapist’s office, I didn’t want to have to explain myself. I didn’t want someone making assumptions about me. I didn’t want to be seen in some altered light. Although I have a long running history with depression, I didn’t even want to use that as an excuse for the Paxil. At the time of the appointment, I’d been fighting depression for weeks, mostly by trying to ignore it, and now that I was out of the house, where depression hits hardest, I wanted to forget. I just wanted to be a regular, normal, semi-functional person. For once. Please allow me to pretend.
So I didn’t say a thing.
It’s not that I’m embarrassed or ashamed. Not too much anyway. I’ve done a lot of work on recovery. But I don’t want to be defined by my mental illness. I have it. It’s there. I’m managing. Does everyone need to know? I also want to pretend that that part of my life is over, but as evidenced by recent events it’s clearly not. I’m pretty sure I’m in it for the long hall, and while it’s gotten much better, it still persists, showing up every now and then when I’m not at all in the mood. When it pops up it always manages to surprise me. I’ve been fighting off the depression and anxiety for so long I really feel like it should be gone by now. Why is it still here, Goddammit?
So in addition to the arthritis for which I was seeking physical therapy and my high cholesterol because apparently I’m 80, I also suffer from (at-times severe) anxiety and depression. I could’ve named this blog, One Depressed Motha, but I don’t know. I didn’t feel like that had the same catchy ring to it. And the truth is while I find myself battling depression on occasion, I don’t like to write about it. It’s bad enough I have to live with it. Do I really have to talk about it, too? Just leave me alone with my mental illnesses.
I’ve avoided writing about the depression and anxiety, which for me comes in the form of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder for which the medication was prescribed), in large part, because most of the time I’m trying to run away from them. Why would I focus on the very things I’m struggling mightily to forget? That makes no sense. I’d rather focus on humor. It’s way more fun. Although I’ll admit being funny when you’re depressed presents its challenges.
All this is why I came up with my New Years Resolutions. Why I so desperately need a change. Which I wrote about on Romper although I happened to leave out the whole mental illness part. But I felt like it was time to come clean. This is a part of who I am. And as much as I wish it wasn’t, I feel I have to acknowledge it.
The other thing is as much as I like to jest, it’s not all fun and games over here. I thought you should know. I started this blog to be honest. About everything. So that maybe others wouldn’t feel so alone in this mixed-up parenting world like I did when I first gave birth all those years ago. If I can in any way help others with my honesty, that’s what I’d like to do.
In that vein, always remember at least you have your health.
Just not necessarily your mental health.
*Let it be noted I was not depressed when I wrote this piece. Had I been depressed this would have been a lot more depressing.
Don’t forget. I can be funny – like in my book, I STILL JUST WANT TO PEE ALONE, the third installment in The New York Times best-selling series from some of the funniest women on the web. For a good time get it on Amazon, Kindle, iTunes and Barnes and Noble. I will love you forever.
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