In the last couple of months I have gotten this question a lot. Not once have I been upset by it, not once have I been embarrassed although every single time I struggle with what to say. I know what they want to know, and depending on my relationship with the person, I might play with them a little.
“Why? What have you heard?”
“Can’t complain, how are YOU?”
“My shoes are pinching a little but otherwise good.”
And the one that I default to, the one that shows them that I really do understand what they are asking:
“You mean as the area’s poster child for mental illness?”
And they laugh and nod. To a one.
Since I publicly admitted a couple of months ago about my struggles with depression I have had a surprising response. Actually, “surprising” doesn’t really describe it. More like “overwhelming”. In the first week I received more emails from readers than I had in the almost four years that I have been writing a column COMBINED. When I add in the number of people that I personally know who sent notes, called, stopped by or wrote social media personal messages- the number humbles me. All of them were encouraging, many thanked me for putting their own struggles into words, and several said that what they read sounded like what they, themselves had been experiencing but- like I did for a long time- kept telling themselves to suck it up and move on.
All of them boosted me and made me realize that -as uncomfortable as I was sharing what was going on- I did the right thing.
So, how am I?
I’m really good.
After a few weeks of adjusting meds I finally started feeling more like myself. That was when the article came out. I wasn’t strong enough to do it before that.
In the time since, I have to work hard to remember the pain I was feeling just a few short months ago. I have the memory, I can begin to feel it and can use words to paint of picture of those feelings- but I can’t recreate them. I can’t get myself to go back there. Which is probably a very good thing and maybe I’m a bit foolish for trying but it’s sort of like when you break your ankle. Once the cast is removed and enough time has past that you are back to your former activities you can still- sometimes- feel a shadow of pain. A memory of it. But it is nowhere near how it felt when you were begging the ER doc for drugs.
I can poke the scar and feel something but it’s not pain like before. I get sad and mad and panic…but nowhere near the levels I did before.
I’m sure that the road ahead is still rocky, but I am walking it very grateful and stronger for all that has happened in the past few months.
So very grateful. Quite a bit stronger.
How am I doing? I know that I am loved, I know what happy feels like again, I know what hopeful and productive and strong feels like again.
I’ve lost all the weight that I had gained self-medicating with food and alcohol, and the scale is still going down.
When I smile it’s deeply sincere, and when I acknowledge that I am having a moment of sadness I know that it is temporary and the appropriate response to whatever is happening.
I’m getting out of the house and seeing friends; I’m living in the moment and feeling hopeful for the future.