Friday, September 14, 2012

Would've wished my sister happy birthday yesterday but she unfriended me last November after I declined an invitation to a party at her house. She wouldn't take a polite no for an answer so I had to give her an impolite one. I had my reasons & they weren't all about her.

The split that occurred between us a decade ago was instigated by me &  had its source in one thing & one thing only: She would not accept the diagnosis of major depression given me by a team of mental health professionals. Even when it was explained to her by my therapist. Took me a couple of years to wake up to that. She subsequently confirmed it on a number of occasions. I was a contemptible person, a con man (an extraordinary one if you think about it, to pull off such a complex con for so little reward).

She would point, still, to a number of slights & insults & say I'm just too pig-headed to apologize. But I don't like being around people who have the effect of making me feel worse about myself. Some of the  other tenants in this building make me feel worse.  Unlike me, they sit out front on the steps all day long.  I pass them thinking, "That's not me, that's not me, that's not me." Online I'm a respected poet & writer, still a free form DJ  appreciated for my music knowledge, & for some I'm just an  online friend who stays in touch, or tries.   My online persona is not a facade; it's the result of real accomplishments. The writing exists. The  radio programs exist.

Not everyone needs to know the details of my illness, or anything at all, for that matter. Some older staffers at WFMU have an idea of what happened to me back there in the late-90's, most don't. Same for poets. A few old friends couldn't make the adjustment. I saw that & backed away. For others - who lived farther away - it explained a lot, but didn't touch them directly.

The professionals always ask you about your "support network" for recovery & continuing care. Many depressed people I have met way over-estimated the understanding they would receive from family & friends. But there's a difference between those who just don't want to deal with it & want everything to stay the same, & those who don't believe anything is wrong with you except that you are a brilliant liar.

What depressives really want is a link to "normalcy." This is actually very easy, & when the help is divided up among a number of people, it's really not much at all.  Gina provides it by setting aside about an hour every week to go to supermarket, a routine she needed to get into anyway. Sometimes we add a quick stop at the branch library.  If I'm a little too gabby on occasion, it's rarely talk about my problems, just an abundance of subjects.   Plus, by walking over & feeding her cats on late Saturday afternoons, I have some much-appreciated private couch potato time with a satellite TV, watch a classic movie or a ball game.


Dear Bob, I am grateful to know you, grateful that you are here. It is all very real. I wish you peace.
I have a friend just diagnosed with major depression. Personal problems overwhelmed her coping abilities, the same thing that happened to me. For years, decades even, you find ways to deal with it. One day you realize you're not dealing with it, & that's when the sense of hopelessness starts pushing you toward the abyss. Like me, she wasn't going over the edge without a fight.
(waving hand) Yup, that's me. Seems my family has jumped onto the bandwagon like your sister, (as one also diagnosed with MDD, albeit, only recently). I've taken the cue from you, and blogged about it, deviating somewhat from my overtly political blog postings. I think that's because, as you point out, a lot of people do not know how to react to you once you have a clear diagnosis of what was affecting you for the period of time you were not "normal" in their eyes. I have had the interesting experience of my entire family being rather uninterested in my condition, focusing instead, on the fact that I drank alcohol as "their" idea of my "problems." This resulted in my daughter rather brazenly unfriending me on Facebook, and then (I am sure after realizing that my public posts could be read by her friends anyway, that were also friends of mine) simply deleting her Facebook page. That was a definite "fuck you" in my book. My own daughter (sigh). It does, however, substantiate Bob's claim that people do have their own feelings (and not necessarily the right feelings, or even proper feelings) about a family member (or friend) who has depression. We can't just "snap out of it" as Cher used the phrase in the movie "Moonstruck."
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