But You LOOK Just FIne
When you open a book and the first sentence in the first chapter is something that you wrote (that’s me), well naturally you’re going to keep reading. Here’s my 15 seconds of fame:
“We excel at wearing masks. We fool our friends, our loved ones, our colleagues, even our doctors,” says John McManamy, an award-winning mental health journalist and author of Living Well with Depression and Bipolar Disorder. “Deep down inside, however, we are the crying clown, our souls in torment, our psyches in a thousand pieces.”
The book is “But You LOOK Just Fine: Unmasking Depression, Anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorder and Seasonal Affective Disorder” by Carol Sveilich and Sahar Abdulaziz. The two authors both have professional experience, but the only credential that matters is having lived through it. The two authors were smart enough to talk to those people.
The first part of the book offers useful information on recognizing and coping with depression and its 50 zillion co-travelers (such as anxiety and trauma). In the second part of the book, people tell their own stories - of literally being trapped in their own brains and trying to make the best of it. Some have managed to come out of it in one piece. Others aren’t there yet.
My own story (I’m listed as a certain John M - hmm, I wonder who that could be) concerns trying to fit in on a planet clearly not of my birth. Over the years, I’ve acquired a whole bunch of useful skills in spotting depressions-in-the-making and shutting them down. The catch is that in successfully avoiding a depression, I risk drawing unwarranted attention to myself in a bad way. Thus:
If I say I need to chill out with a bite to eat right now, it means right now. Any old taco stand will do.
The person I’m with wonders why I can’t just wait 20 minutes. From her point of view, finding a better spot is logical. But from my point of view:
Each passing second exponentially raises the risk of my brain running away from me. I am staring into the likelihood of four days of living hell; four days of walking around in a coma, pushing a rock uphill in a thunderstorm, wanting to sleep and never wake up.
I’m struggling mightily trying not to panic. She only sees a strange person getting upset over nothing.
But, of course, I look just fine.
More to come ...