One night I found myself resurrecting my old Twitter account from its four year self-induced coma. I really wanted to like Twitter, but I promptly abandoned it after I realized that it was reinforcing the horrible dullness of my life and that was perhaps why I was being followed by hyper-successful people who couldn’t wait to “share” their success with me. Personally, if I was successful, I wouldn’t have time to be on Twitter bugging people about my success because I’d be too busy kicking up sand on the beaches of Maui.
The old tweets surprised me. Apparently one day was a“win!” because I had tea and cookies and another involved silly conversations I overheard during class. This was a me that felt it necessary to announce my everyday life like it was all wonderful. There were even happy posts about sunshine of all things!
I had gone back to my account with the intention of disabling the annoying “look what others have tweeted” emails that kept coming into my inbox. I didn’t care about any of those people (all of whom were celebrities) and it just reminded me of another failed social media outlet. While other people have 100s of friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter, I had mostly relatives and a few friends from High School who had as much to do with my current life as the sunshine and happiness tweets.
Recently, I’ve started seeing a therapist. I can’t say if this relationship is made in heaven yet or not – she’s okay to talk to, but I’m not sure if she’s great on advice. I know, we’ve only had two sessions so I should give her time, but really, when your therapist gives you a list of common Cognitive Behaviors depressed people make and tells you to “make them positive”, well, you either want to run away as quickly as possible or sink down into the couch with defeat.
The year of the horse has been a turning point for me. It quickly became the year of the mule. I was cranky, I was weepy, I was everything a happy person wasn’t and I realized that I had been painting this drab picture for quite some time. Years, actually. Stroke by stroke.
Lately, my posts weren’t quite so optimistic and hopeful. My exercise routines, once so loved and the highlight of my day, were becoming dull and painful. My work was becoming a chore I wished I could escape even before my day started. Everything was setting me on edge and everything was making me near weepy. I wasn’t totally tipping into full-blown depression (I still woke early and got my jobs down), but I was feeling off-kilter. So off that I scared even myself into finally taking the plunge and looking up a psychologist.
Calling a therapist isn’t easy. It’s acceptance of what you are, of what you’ve become. It’s a step out into the public about a potential mental illness. Whereas those tragically diagnosed with cancer are called warriors and fighters with throngs of sign bearing supporters behind them, those with mental illnesses are usually ranked with criminals or doused with a good bit of fear and loathing. You’re not seen as the strong fighter who will defeat the illness but as the unpredictable social outcast who is weak and can’t deal with their problems (“You only have to choose to be positive!”). Being classified as “mentally ill” doesn’t make you a hero or a person to admire, even though those that deal with mental illness and live every day with it are all that and more.
I put the phone call off for days. That didn’t compare to the time it took me to narrow down the list to “the one”. It was like I was going on a date – I scrutinized every aspect of the potential therapy partner. I checked their backgrounds and, yes, even their pictures. I looked for the “nice” face that said they’d love to listen to my problems and not the face that looked like they’d sign you up for their upcoming award-winning “Be a Success” seminar. Are faces really all that important? No. But something inside me was scared.
Another two weeks later and I was having my first session where I spilled everything that had been bothering me like I was a loose diary with pages fluttering out of my mouth. I felt bad for the therapist because even as I went out the door I was thinking of more things to tell her. It was like a tap had been turned on and it gushed out of me in one big wet mess. The second session felt slightly more controlled, but again, more and more stuff came to mind. Where had I kept it all before? I know I hadn’t thought of most of it in years and if you’d have asked me yesterday if it bothered me, I’d have said “nah, I’ve gotten over it”. Apparently not.
So as I sat there in front of my old Twitter account I wondered what kind of tweet I’d do today. My fingers itched and I tapped out my first tweet in 4 years. It was raw, unfiltered and exactly what my blood pressure needed to release some of the tension that had been steadily building up in me like “Old Faithful” lately. Sometimes just talking things out moves us closer to feeling more safe in our own skin.
By the way, if anyone wants to put together a sign-bearing crowd of supporters for me, I’ll put on my cape. 😉 We all need a little support now and then, no matter our situation.