Heather, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, both really. I want to laugh when I hear you are back in the light, this was in the past, because some of your recent posts have been very dark. I want to cry when I hear you talk about a failed love — me too.
We need to revisit our darkest times and try to make some sense of the tangled mess of our emotions and fears; but we also need to only enter that room when we are sure we can handle what’s in there, and we need to leave the door open so we can get out in a hurry when it’s too much to handle. We need an escape plan before we go there (preferably not one that involves a liquor bottle, but any plan is better than no plan).
This isn’t about me, but I want to relate to you very briefly what happened, for a reason. For eight years my physician tried to help me through depression. At night, two or three times a week, I would wake up after maybe two hours sleep, in a cold sweat, trembling with fear, having had a really bad dream. But I could never remember what it was about. The only way I could get peace was to drink until I lapsed into unconsciousness for 8–10 hours. Then one day I woke up very late for a physicians appointment, rushed out of breath into his surgery 20 minutes late, bumped into him, he said ‘What happened?’ and I blurted out ‘I dreamed about Dana again’.
He just looked at me very hard then rang the psychiatrist and had her see me the same day. She said two things to me that seem relevant. First she said to me ‘if someone comments to you: ‘it’s a beautiful day’, the ‘normal’ person says ‘Yeah’, the depressive says ‘it’s OK, but it’ll probably rain soon’ and the dysthymic says ‘I don’t care, I hate all days’. ‘Where do you sit on this scale?’. ‘Somewhere between 2 and 3, about 2.5 probably’. Secondly, a couple of weeks later, she said ‘You don’t have to be a firefighter, paramedic, police or soldier to get PTSD — that’s my diagnosis’. It was the start of the long road back for me.
Who was Dana? 22–23 years old, a uni student, softly spoken, beautiful, gentle; if an angel came to earth it would be as Dana. I only talked to her once for maybe three hours, and tried to get her to safety. Shortly afterwards her boy’friend’ killed her, then himself. I identified her from a photo the police showed me. In reality, I did all I could, but the dream was ‘could I have done more?’.
Why am I burdening you with all this? I wear a White Ribbon anti-DV armband — since I was given it a year ago I have never taken it off. It says ‘Stand up, Speak out’ to which I would add ‘Shout!’. But to me, there are two enormous hidden diseases plaguing our Western societies: depression / dysthymia and DV. My psychiatrist told me that a major part of my recovery would be, once I knew the source of my angst, to be noisy about it; I am. New to Medium, about the first thing I saw was Holly Wood’s July 27 posting ‘Dancing Under a Shit Star’ then your posting on August 6 about admitting yourself to a psychiatric hospital. I immediately printed off several copies of both to give to anyone who could be helped by seeing that there were people in the world prepared to bare their souls and shout. If you said you had cancer, people wouldn’t tell you not to be a fool, pull yourself together, get on with life. But with dysthymia, they do.
I am filled with admiration for what you are doing, what you have written. Personally, I think you deserve the Nobel prize for honesty, in my knowledge you would only have one competitor, Holly. I have one other observation, but I won’t post it here unless you say so. Is there a way to contact you privately? I generally refuse to have much to do with other social media like Facebook and Twitter — I’ve lost too much time already, and I haven’t got time for shit anymore. You can have my email address if you want it, just tell me how to get it to you — if you say ‘via Medium’ I will post it here, and if I get other crap as well, it will go straight to spam.
Enough already. I just wanted you to know your posts are much appreciated, as are you.