Thursday, August 28, 2014

Life Update, August

We went to Vietnam for a week for my birthday, which was surprisingly enjoyable (both because I have had trouble enjoying myself of late, and because we had a rather bad time there on our last visit, including getting chased by a knife-wielding maniac).

I am finally feeling significantly better and have made real progress. The almost-nightly meltdowns and suicide threats have vanished, and while I still get upset it is both much less dramatic and shorter-lived (it used to take me hours or even days to get back to baseline, for instance). I wouldn't say that I am completely better yet, but maybe at 70 or 80%? It's a little hard to judge, because part of being mentally ill is that your reality is a bit distorted. When I was really ill, I would have said that of course I was a little depressed, but there was nothing seriously wrong with me: I used to argue with B about this actually, as he wanted me to acknowledge that I was really ill, and I was only sporadically willing to do this (depending on my mental state at the time). It seemed like such a personal failure to admit to even myself how crazy I was, especially because I don't have a good "excuse" (ie no abusive or unloving family, history of sexual assault or something similarly lurid).

I haven't really written that much about my mental problems, both because of the denial issue and because when you are having mental problems, you do not have either the energy or mental organization for writing anything, even blog posts. The denial issue is by far the more important factor though. I don't keep the fact that I have had mental problems a secret (if only because I am the world's worst liar): all my friends and family know that I have been depressed and struggling. I still feel like I am keeping secrets though, because no one knows the full extent of things except B, really. Telling people that you have been having problems with depression and anxiety, and are thus seeing a therapist, doesn't really communicate "FUCKED UP" if you are simultaneously well dressed, articulate, cheerful and a calm, loving parent.

Leaving out the parts that DO communicate such a thing (like the fact that for a while I attempted to hurl myself out of our high-rise apartment windows several times a week, requiring B to literally physically restrain me) makes me feel like a fraud. There is no way I am going to tell anyone this stuff, though, both because it is TMI for almost everyone except the very closest, and I don't want to upset those people (my parents, for example) because it would cause them frantic worry and yet there's nothing they can do. Maybe this is a good reason to have an anonymous blog...

Beyond mental drama and visiting Vietnam, things have been fairly quiet around here. We went to Batam again (fun!), went to Pulau Ubin again and went hiking at Sungei Buloh again on successive weekends (a good sign, because non-depressed-Amanda likes to see/do stuff while crazy Amanda can't handle any variations from routine).

R is a great joy to both B and me. She is all jokes and fun and imagination, up for almost anything (she loves exploring and is tremendously curious about everything, from the emperor's palace in Vietnam to banana trees in Pulau Ubin), and seems to get older by the nanosecond. She is so affectionate and loving ("Mommy, I weally love you. I love you just the way you are.") and wants nothing more than to be with us 24-7 (even if some of that time would involve ignoring us while we sat at attention). She has her moments of tantrum and naughtiness, but they are really minor in the scheme of things. More tiring are her enthusiasm and energy, which are both very high (not in the hyper sense, in the verve sense: that word seems to have been coined just for R). But without them she would not be herself, and honestly to me she is perfect. I couldn't imagine a better child (which sounds horribly sappy but is the truth).


  1. Indeed, I think this is one of the reasons to have an anonymous blog.

    It is too bad that you can't tell your parents though - I think it would be constructive if only to help you stop feeling like you're a fraud.

    I appreciate that you don't tell them because it would worry them, but often, I think people would rather be able to worry, in order to share the burden that their loved ones carry in some small way.

    For example, an acquaintance of mine - her father was diagnosed with a fatal condition a year ago. Her parents made the decision not to tell her or her younger brother - so they only found out a week or 2 before he passed away. She was so sad that she didn't know - she kept thinking that if only she had known, she would have spent that year so differently; spent more time with her father and her mother, helped her mother, etc.

    A completely different situation (maybe I just want to talk about myself?): when I was in University, my grandmother passed away in my mother's house. My mother made the decision not to tell me, because she worried that it would disrupt my studies. I am forever sad that I didn't know - both to have the chance to say farewell to my grandmother, and also sad that I wasn't able to help my mom through this shocking time. I still wonder if my mother understands why I am sad that I didn't know - does she understand these subtleties?

    That said, I understand if you just can't share it.
    I have a friend who is the same way.

    A belated Happy Birthday!

    1. I think you are totally right, that most people would rather be able to worry and have the information, especially because if they DON'T have information parents will also worry. Certainly my parents have explicitly told me that they prefer to be told about everything/kept in the loop.

      Not telling them stuff is purely a selfish decision. Basically I feel embarrassed and ashamed of myself and my behavior, so I want to hide it from as many people as possible. I realize this is not a very functional attitude, but of course knowing something intellectually and actually doing something about it are two different things.

      I know I really do need to be more honest with them, but so far I just haven't felt up to it. I wonder if something similar was involved with your mom, that she was dealing with her own strong emotions about your grandmother and kind of felt emotionally overwhelmed by the prospect of telling you (so not telling you was more of a self protective decision than one purely for your benefit)? I think usually when people do make these sorts of decisions it is mostly for self-focused reasons (like, in my opinion, pretty much everything else people do: they do it because it's what seems best for them, even if often their judgment is kind of off).

      Hopefully as I continue to improve mentally I can be a better daughter and consider their feelings a bit more. I hope so, because not telling them does make me feel horribly guilty (even if it seems more appealing than the alternative).