“I’d rather be a could-be if I cannot be an are; because a could-be is a maybe who is reaching for a star, I’d rather be a has-been than a might-have-been, by far; for a might have-been has never been, but a has-been was once an are.” ~ Milton Berle, American Comedian and Actor
Are you an “are”? Sometimes I don’t think I am. But, that’s part of my illness. In my head, I know I’m an “are”. I know that I’m important in the lives of some. I know that I have been a “could-be” and I have been a “maybe” who has reached for that star. I have caught a few stars in my lifetime and they were bright and beautiful stars. But, I tend to forget those stars at times. I tend to reach a point where I forget that there are still stars out there. They are mine for the picking. I just need to try a little harder. It just becomes so tiresome to always have to be the one reaching. I long for someone to bring me a darn star every once in a while. That would be nice.
For those who battle depression, the fear of “trying” is sometimes overwhelming. Rather than step out of our superman cape and take off our mask, we will stay covered up, for we are sure that’s the safest thing for us to do. Safety is paramount for us. Constantly “trying” is just too risky. But what if we try? What harm can come to us? Will we be ridiculed? Will we be blamed? Will we be put down? The truth is – maybe we will be. But, maybe we won’t be. Maybe we will succeed. Maybe we will be good at it. Maybe it will be fun. But, “trying” means that we have to step out of our own heads, take off our masks, remove our superman capes, and we have to get out there. That is the hard part – getting out there.
The idea of stepping out for someone with depression is not something we do easily. For many people, stepping out may mean going zip-gliding or parachuting from an airplane. Stepping out for us may mean something as simple as going to a baby shower for a family member. My goodness, there are going to be people there who we don’t know. What if they can just look at us and see that we are not like them? What if we say something wrong? What if we find a seat and just not interact with others? Will they know that we are terrified of them? What if we start thinking about how we were happy once upon a time – back when we had our first baby? If we do that, we may start crying. What will people think of us then? What if the mom-to-be doesn’t like our gift? What if everyone there is prettier than we are? What if there is a family member there who has done something to hurt us in the past? Will we be able to be polite to that person? What if they say something to us to hurt our feelings again? What if we decide we just can’t do it? Will our family members be mad? What if…what if…what if? Our mind is full of what ifs! By the time it’s time for the shower, we have worked ourselves into such a tizzy, it’s almost impossible to go. Sadly, for many of us, the temptation to stay home wins out in the end. We once again choose to not go to another function. Our lives are full of functions that we have not attended because of our fears. We have, once again, denied ourselves the possibility of having fun because of the fears that swirl in our heads. And that, my friends, is a shame. And we know it. But, we stay home anyway.
So, how do we solve this problem? Honestly, I don’t know yet. There are many functions I don’t attend because of these fears. For those functions that I just can’t avoid, I dig out a mask, suffer through the panic attack, and then go. I do the best I can while there and then collapse upon returning home.
My biggest fear is in going back to the town where I lived for 25 years, where my children were raised and where one of my children still lives. For years, the thought of going there would bring forth huge panic attacks – shaking hands, racing heart, and even having to pull over to throw up before I reached the county line. It’s not that bad now, but I still have those thoughts running through my head with the mere mention of going there. And that is so unfair to my grandchildren who live there. And I know it. And I can’t get over the fear. And I hate it. Hate it. Hate it. Someone asked me once what I was afraid would happen if I went there. I’m not afraid that anything will happen TO me. I think I’m afraid that all those terrible feelings and thoughts will come back to me and I don’t think I’m strong enough to fight those thoughts again. I truly believe that a person is allowed just so many fights in their lifetime and I’m afraid that my fight quota is real close to its limit. My daughter and I spoke about this fear a couple of weeks ago. She hears my fears, but I know that she is hurt by my inability to visit often and that saddens me. I so want this to change.
I do know that being retired and living alone makes things harder. If you are not around a lot of people, you become used to isolation. I was just thinking, “here it is, 3:33 pm, and I have not used my voice today.” Sometimes, I long to just hear someone else’s voice. And, yes, I know that my telephone works both ways. I can always call one of my children or my granddaughter to talk. But, I always worry that they are busy and don’t really have time to talk, so I wait for them to call me. I just wish there was someone “here” to talk to. But, that’s not true, either. I cringe at the thought of being around someone all the time. I guess I just want someone when I want someone. Kind of greedy, huh? Oh, well, that’s me. I guess I’ll go talk to my dog now just to hear my voice.
One day, I will have the nerve or desire to get back out there. I wish it would hurry up and come. I hear there are some stars that need catching.
THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS: Thinking about my wants, desires, and fears makes me feel extremely vulnerable. Thinking about isolation makes me feel safe. Sharing with others about my vulnerability and fears is such a strange thing to me. I am still having a hard time sharing.
TODAY’S FEELINGS BAROMETER: Headache is back. Feeling crappy, both physically and emotionally.