On Being An Expert In Me

John McManamy Health Guide
  • Of Two Minds (OTM) writes:


    There are endless words written and spoken every day by "experts" citing research and statistics about the origin of depression, the nature of depression, arguing whether it is nature or nurture, can it be avoided, controlled, etc. etc. and blah, blah, and blah. But here is the thing, none of those people are in my head. THE only expert on the lay of the land of my depression is ME, and the really f*ed up thing about the nature of depression that some people don't understand is how convoluted and deceptive it can be. It is a tornado of voices, thoughts, feelings, and experiences all twisted up in a big ball, and we can get so caught up in it that we don't know which way is up or down.

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    I hear you, OTM. In her post, The Only Expert, she goes on to say:


    I need to know that people understand that, that they "get that." I don't need a psychology 101 lesson, a self-help mantra, or a mirror put up to show me how ugly my depression is.


    I was going to post today a piece that picks up from last week about “defenses.” Trust me, it’s real cool stuff that I’m sure many of you will find helpful. But I also know that it’s the very last thing OTM needs to hear right now. I’ve been there, you’ve been there, we’ve all been there. 


    I see my role here at HealthCentral as starting conversations. Those who have followed my posts know that I tend to sign off with something along the lines of “you are the true experts,” with strong encouragement for you to post your insights.


    If I’m an expert at anything, it is being an expert at the same thing OTM is an expert in - namely me. No one else has a clue as to what could possibly be going on inside my head. Trust me, it’s totally crazy in there. No one in the world can possibly get me. How can they? So when someone else who is not me presumes to get me - yes, yes, yes, we’ve all been there.


    Case in point: Last year, at a social gathering, I happened to reveal that I knew the source of the theme to those ubiquitous British Airways commercials. No big deal. But then this well-meaning individual interpreted that to mean I was some sort of opera expert. Not only that, but that I should host my own opera radio program. Really, I’m not making this up.


    I gently brushed aside the suggestion. Trust me, I know nothing about opera. But she persisted. There were other people in the room. I could only delicately hint that she cease this line of conversation. She didn’t take the hint. I told her I already had a career. She didn’t take the hint. I told her that I was very happy with my work. But she persisted. Indeed, by her body language she was looking for support from the others in the room.


    Obviously, I was way too stupid to realize that hosting an opera show was my true calling. And that if I were to only snap out of my delusion for just one minute, I would know that there are top radio executives all over the country backed by eager sponsors just waiting for me to pitch them an opera show.


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    Keep in mind, I’m crazy. This apparently gives people - total strangers, even - carte blanche to tell me what to do with my life. Okay, get this. Not only am I crazy, I am perfectly happy to remain in this condition of thinking and feeling deeper and of finding beauty in the apparently ordinary, not to mention total despair, and it comes packaged in such a way that on many occasions I would gladly trade what I have for something more standard-issue, but in the final analysis this is who I am and that is all there is to it. 


    See, now I really have to be crazy.  


    Trust me, OTM. I may not know what’s going on inside your head, but I know absolutely where you are coming from. We all have our different versions of that same ridiculous opera story. Even if it’s not ridiculous, even if it’s just some well-meaning individual saying we need to be mindful of our triggers - it’s very easy to experience that very same sense of violation. What? You think I’m too stupid not to be mindful of my triggers? What? You think if I take your advice right now my depression will magically lift and I will become a finalist on American Idol?


    And we’re the crazy ones?


    We all have our reasons for coming here. My guess is that part of it has to do with our unique expertise, our expertise in “me.” Because when we meet as equals and begin to share experiences, something transformative happens. “Me” changes to “We.” None of us has the answers, but in “we” each one of us experiences a sense of shared humanity. In the presence of each other, we start to feel safe. When we feel safe, we start to open up and share experiences and ideas. That’s how we really learn. That’s how we become better people.


    As I said, I was going to post today on some really cool stuff that might be helpful. That can wait. 

Published On: December 29, 2012