Every laugh is a victory. Every laugh is a gift. Something to savor. I am so very grateful I developed or overdeveloped a sense of humor. Cynical, silly, deadpan, slapstick – it’s all good. I truly believe that if not for prescription medication and a sense of humor I would not be alive today.
Anxiety brings out a strange side of me. Once it gets to panic attack stage, it’s not funny. I got into a MVA. NOT MY FAULT. I think I sort of started to go into shock after the police left. Nobody hurt. Car still works fine. But I thought I was going to pass out and die. I couldn’t find a safe place to pull over. I had a soda which I purchased before starting the drive home. Finally found a small side street and pulled in. Not the nicest neighborhood. I’ve seen many police cars parked on this street quite a few times while driving past. It didn’t register. I sipped my soda and popped a pill. Meanwhile, a HUGE man with a bushy black beard, not wearing a shirt, body covered in tattoos like a yakuza, comes over to my car. At this point, I DO NOT CARE if he wants to steal everything I own. He taps on my window and signals to roll down the window. As my window goes down he gently asks, “sistah, you okay? You like for me call 911?” I almost cried with relief. I told him I just needed to sit for a while. He pointed to his house. “I live over there. You honk your horn if you need help, okay?” I thanked him. Sipped my soda until I was breathing normally, stopped shaking, exhausted but no longer feeling like I was dying. It was the most respectful interaction I’ve had during a full blown panic attack. If I can, I get out and slowly pace. I’ve certainly learned how to dry swallow pills. It must be obvious that something is wrong, as I start to slowly pace back and forth. Looking down at my feet. Fumbling in my purse for the pill bottle. Those that know I have these issues, will let me know that they’ll check back on me. They are aware that it will pass and if it does not pass, they will get me over to an ER. I have NEVER had a stranger come up to me and offer to help. I have noticed that everyone sort of tries to look away. I caught someone staring, once. She looked afraid. Ironic. I was surrounded by medical personnel. My evil twin, who does not have any mental or emotional problems wanted to say, “excuse me, I feel like I’m dying right now. You wanna help?”
When it is just high anxiety, well, if you ever watched old I Love Lucy (Lucille Ball) episodes – I go all out Lucy. I get wigged out about being late. I was trying to get somewhere before they closed, and had very little time. So I started doing deep, slow breathing. My brother covered the clock in the car with his hand so I would not know how much time I had to get there. We started laughing. Creative methods of reducing anxiety. I appreciate that. It must be funny to see me freak out.
I want to write a book. An apt title might be, Mental Illnesses are NOT Contagious. The follow up would be, The Depressed do NOT Die Laughing.
People talk about the stigma. Probably one of the reasons I’ve never married. Even dating was always difficult. I think that most people, despite not being ignorant of the fact that sick does not equal crazy, still don’t want/need or are unable to deal with it. The only long-term relationships I’ve ever had were not healthy ones. I know I am not easy to cope with when I can’t cope with myself. But it is funny. Conversations with those who admit to having depression or panic attacks, or some kind of illness:
“How are you doing?”
“I’m not really well right now. Going through a rough time. Hey, make me laugh!”
Cardinal rule of the mentally and emotionally ill: Don’t ask unless you really want to know.
The “chronics” – those who are on meds for life; have bad days (and these are the days when getting out of bed takes about as much effort as running a marathon – yes, I know, I’ve run a number of them) once in a while; have low periods of feeling like we are not really living, but only existing. We excel in acting. We have to. It takes special people to stay around us. When we lose everyone else and the exhaustion of pretending to be happy and “normal” – that’s when we end it. But I don’t think it’s possible to do yourself in if you can still laugh.
Victory: managed to do two loads of laundry and go grocery shopping, in addition to getting up and dressed, and putting on some makeup.
Celebration: junk food – Ruffles. I really need to find healthier ways to celebrate. Read more of my book on mindfulness.