When I was in the depths of depression/ an eating disorder (which my family still doesn't talk about, by the way, and just refers to as "when you were really skinny"), I discovered that depression and mental illness ruin relationships. The kind of relationships you count on as un-ruinable.
Specifically, for me, it nearly ruined my relationship with my mom.
Writing about this is painful, but not as painful as the wide divide that opened between us. If you know me (or my mom) you know that we talk almost every day, that we finish one another's sentences, and are as thick as thieves.
We always did. Until we didn't.
There were two periods of difficulty for my mom and me. The first? Was mental illness (mine) when I didn't know how to ask for help and, instead, lashed out. (The second involved an abusive partner, and my inability to say, um, I think I need help, but that is a different story entirely.) I knew that we were in trouble when I overheard someone saying to my mom, "You and Yellie have such a close relationship" and my mom replied, "Not so much."
Hearing that made me bleed. But not so you could see.
Mental illness hurts. It hurts the person who struggles, and it hurts the people they love. Sometimes you can save those relationships -- if you get lucky -- but sometimes you can't.
Which is fucked up.
Because it's chemistry, goddamn it. It's reactions and cells. It's not love, or intentions.
It's fucking CHEMISTRY.
Who does depression hurt?
Everyone it touches.
I got lucky. I was able to explain. We fixed it. My mom is a mom, so she worries -- paradoxically, probably more now than when I didn't talk about it -- and she knows that I have periods where I am good, and periods when I struggle, and triggers that I have to avoid. As for me, I know that I have to let her know: I'm good. Or I'm not good. We work it out.
Not everyone is so lucky.
The knowledge that not everyone is so lucky makes me terribly sad. It's difficult enough being uncomfortable and terrified in your own skin without the added pressure of knowing that the relationships that you count on could disappear.
And that? Is why I keep talking about it. I don't want to. I wanted to write a blog about what a doofus I am, and I will keep doing that, because -- well, because I'm a tremendous doofus. But I also know that for years I couldn't find the vocabulary to talk about the ways I was broken, and the thought that it was only me was almost worse than my broken brain.
It wasn't just me. It's not just you, if it's you. And anything broken can be fixed.
I know this to be true.