Mental health Monday

by Janie Jones

Okay.  I am still here.

I want to thank everyone for the personal emails and comments in response to my last post.  It was pretty ugly.  I can’t lie.  I feel pretty ugly.  The reality is that things that matter most to me are being stripped away little by little, and I have to constantly keep patching myself up.  I am still extremely miserable, but I am still here.  As much as I want to succeed, I am really getting so tired it’s becoming very difficult to make myself do the things I know I really want to do.

People worry about me, they say I’m depressed.  Well, sure.  Considering what I have been through and am up against that seems like the winner of the Update From the Planet Obvious Award.  They say to hang in there, things will get better.  No doubt they will.  I see it happen to other people all the time, but I don’t know how long I will be able to continue to endure this metaphorical pummeling before something in me breaks.

For a long time I thought asking for help was the weakness, but years ago I decided that wasn’t true.  I started asking for help, but help never seemed to help, the doctors, psychologists and even some of the family and friends I reached out to tended to make me feel worse about my situation and not better.  Most told me life wasn’t fair, things would eventually get better if I’d just hold on, I had to buck up, work harder, that no one could fix my problems but myself.  Maybe, because I have managed so much with so little, friends, counselors and government agencies don’t think I really need them.  Perhaps they thought I needed some “tough love.”  Or maybe it is truly because there’s nothing any one can do but listen sympathetically.  90% of my stress and depression comes from being beyond broke.  Living on just $400 a month or less is a depressing, soul crushing thing to deal with.  Short of a miracle lottery win there’s no way to ease that stress.

The fact I’ve survived this long, against what I see as insurmountable odds, impresses the snot out of me.  Maybe that’s the problem.  I’m actually too good at solving my own problems and the Universe now thinks its a game to challenge me, heaping worse and worse situations on top of my proverbial plate to see how much it takes before I finally break. When I think about it, it’s sadly amazing and almost enough to make me believe in magic, or mind over matter.

I somehow, against all rational odds, against all obstacles, I keep on going like some deranged zombie Energizer bunny.  If I had to have a superpower I’d rather just be able to see through walls instead of survive tremendous cosmic disaster if it means feeling this shitty to be able to do so.  And, how long can this ability to keep going last?  Even Master Yoda couldn’t overcome every obstacle.  The force even failed him eventually.  So, it is possible, even probable, that it will fail me eventually, too.  Is it self indulgent or depression talk, or can’t I just wonder with perfect honesty that this might be the time when you finally just complete run out of everything?  It doesn’t feel like giving up to say that you’re physically too wrung out to deal with one more thing, it feels like reality.

Many years ago when my marriage ended I took up a mantra:  “Don’t borrow trouble.”  I cling to that.  Heaven knows I don’t need to give myself any more problems it hasn’t already thrown my way.  So I try to just worry about one day at a time, sometimes just one hour at a time.  I try to sift through the warning alarms and decide which fires need to be put out first and then make peace with ignoring the rest.  It’s not always enough, but it’s the best I can do.

I tell myself to count my blessings, I pray and give thanks.  I try to moderate my stress as best I can.  I’ve started exercising at least a half hour every day.  I eat well.  I try to laugh and put my best face forward as much as possible, even when I feel like shit inside.  You know, the whole power of being positive thing.  It’s like a band aid on a severed artery, but it just might buy me enough time to get through one more day, and one more day will get me one day closer to hopefully reaching my dream or maybe at least a spate of good luck for a change.

It’s one thing to know what you have to do, to be able to rationalize all these things, to even do them, but it’s another thing all together to feel like you not only have to do all this but you have to do it alone.  I know I have to fix my own life, and I don’t want to be seen as a charity case.  But, being down and wrung out like I am, I want– I feel like I need– someone to stand beside me and loan me some strength and moral support as I face the onslaught.

So, I know there are some readers out there who really care.  It means so much to know I have friends who I’ve never met pulling for me out there.  Things are bad, but I don’t want to make you worry excessively and I care about not overwhelming you with my misery.  So I’m aiming for a happy medium.  Mondays are hence forth Janie’s Mental Health Monday posts.  I will pour out my misery and then the rest of the week I will shut up about life’s short comings and try to focus on the silly and snarky.  After all, like Big Willie’s grandma says, “attitude determines your altitude.”  If I think cheerful positive thoughts, I ought to realize them, right?

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