Let your friends and family help you, let them love you, let them support you. That’s what my therapist tells me. I know he’s right. Of course I do. It’s hard, though. I can’t help but feel guilty that my friends and family worry about me, that they have spent their precious energy thinking about my well-being, that they have let their worry and concern for me distract them from their lives, their families…in any way.
It all comes back to this concept of worthiness. I don’t think I’m worthy of anyone’s worry or concern, or thoughts or compassion. I’m working on that. I have to say, t’s a challenging thing to try to undo over 20 years of mental and emotional reprimand. My own reprimand, that is. But, I’m working on it.
These last couple of weeks, I’ve been reduced to the little girl I was when I was six. I’ve needed my family in a way that I have never felt in my adult life. I needed my parents and siblings to know what I’ve been going through, and I wanted my mom to be here with me, literally, physically.
And so she was. My mom stayed with me for a week. She slept in my bed, next to me, her presence comforting me the way it did when I was a little girl and would wake up with a nightmare. Instead of letting me crawl into my parents’ bed between them, my mom would come and sleep with me in mine. I can still recall the warmth of her body next to mine, the sound of her heart beat, the security of knowing that Mom was with me, protecting me from whatever demons I conceived were haunting me. It was the best feeling in the world.
That feeling came back to me in waves these last couple of weeks. Quite simply, I needed my mommy. And she came. She dropped everything and came to Toronto to be with me. She entered into a situation with which she was unfamiliar, untrained, and probably very uncomfortable, with a full and open heart, ready to just…be here in whatever way I needed her to be. And she did just that.
Having my mom here meant waking at an hour I’m not used to seeing lately. It meant having breakfast, with actual protein and nutrients. It meant making a to-do list and executing on those items every day. It also meant spending concentrated time with my mom, who, of course I love and feel close to, and with whom I’ve had many, many, many great conversations over my life. But never about the things I need to talk about now.
My parents, much like the parents of my friends and people my age, come from a generation where things simply weren’t talked about. Things were famously swept under the rug. Depression, anxiety, and stress weren’t acknowledged, not given credence, ignored, “sucked up,” as it were. I get that. As my therapist says, you can only work with the tools you have, and my parents, and most people of their generation simply don’t have the tools to deal with depression that we do now.
But, I’m extraordinarily proud of my parents for being as open as they have been. I know it’s difficult for them to understand what depression even is, let alone, why and how it’s been debilitating for me. The one thing that has come through loud and clear though, despite their potential lack of understanding, is that they love me and they’re worried about me, and they want me to get better. And that’s all I want, really. They don’t need to understand the medical and psychological definitions of depression to know that I’m not myself and that I need help.
I’m grappling every day with the thought that the people I love are worried about me. It makes me feel guilty, or responsible in some way. I worry if my family is getting the support they need to process what is happening with me. And I can’t help but feel that I owe my friends. They have been so wonderful to me, jumping in during crisis, talking to each other, giving each other support and sharing, frankly, scary information about me and my self-destruction. I don’t know how to make sure that they all get the support they need. But, I’m trying to remind myself that if the situation was reversed, I would do the same thing. I’m trying to learn to accept the love that people are trying to give me.
This is a journey. Two steps forward, two steps back. Sometimes it’s more than two steps back…but I’m slowly moving forward. I’m vulnerable, but I think that’s okay. In vulnerability, comes strength. I’ve been told by a few people in the last couple of weeks that I am a strong woman. That warms my heart. I’m not sure I totally believe it, but the fact that others do, gives me confidence. My therapist told me today that he’s proud of me – for telling my secrets, for confiding in my family, and for getting out of bed every day determined to muster the motivation to fight. It’s hard. But, I want to get better. And I will, I know it. This is the fight of my life. But, I’m ready.