Thursday, August 17, 2006

Weddings are mixed blessings

Just got home from a wedding. Someone else's wedding, obviously. The chatan is a good friend of mine, actually an ex-boyfriend, Yishai; the kallah is ten years younger than I am.

I don't begrudge him happiness; I truly wish him well. But it hurts to go to another woman's wedding, especially such a young one. I feel like it's never going to be my turn.

It's a good thing they serve mixed drinks at these mixed blessings.

The wedding was in Queens, so I got a ride in with friends of mine -- Eric and Ahuva. Both of them used to be "older singles"; they've been married for many years now and have kids, but they remember what it was like to go to weddings and feel like stale bread left up on the shelf. It was great to be able to say, "I'm happy for the happy couple, but I'm sad for me." They didn't judge; they just advised me to daven for my single friends, and I did. I just sent this IM to my friend Dvora, who lives in Israel and communicates with me primarily via IM and email:

I davened for you tonight -- I went to a wedding and was feeling a little sorry for myself; the people who gave me a ride told me to daven for my single friends, so I davened for you. I want you to know, I gave Gd a very stern talking-to. "Dvora's waited long enough for someone to appreciate how wonderful she is and make her happy," I told Him. "So I want her to find the right guy SOON." We'll see if He was listening...

Indeed.

One of the other guests at the wedding was on duty at the emergency room when I was brought in after my overdose. A few years ago, she introduced herself to me at a kiddush after davening at one of the UWS synagogues, and just told me how happy she was to see me healthy and functioning well. (Or appearing to.)

It's great to talk to somebody who knows how far I've come and how hard I've worked to get here. Sometimes I can hardly believe it. There are days, when I'm depressed, that I only get out of bed to go to the bathroom. During my last depressive episode I didn't bathe for weeks, and only left the apartment to get food or to see my psychiatrist. But usually I'm more capable than that.

The thing is, I think people should be impressed by the fact that I have this illness, yet I'm capable of holding a job, going to grad school, babysitting, writing.... I have to work twice as hard to cope with my life, but I'm coping.

It annoys me that I do this juggling act all day, every day, and no one gives me props for being such an awesome juggler. It was easier when I was in therapy; then I heard every week how terrific I was doing, and since I was in group therapy for a while as well, I got positive feedback from a bunch of people.

These days, I get praise from my psychiatrist and my closest friends, who know what I have to contend with. But I feel like I've developed this amazing skill I can't brag about. If I studied another language or learned how to throw pots, I could show off a little. I can't expect people to be impressed that I can shower regularly now. They assume everyone can do that.

But they don't know how hard taking a shower or trying to carry out any kind of purposeful activity is for a depressed person. You can't concentrate even on the simple steps that it takes to accomplish something small like brushing your teeth. Your neurotransmitters aren't functioning well; the electrical impulses that carry thoughts through the brain are being interrupted. So I develop gum disease during my depressive episodes. Somehow I can't even go through the motions -- putting toothpaste on the brush, brushing, rinsing. It's all too complicated and overwhelming.

I wish I could explain this better. I'm not at the top of my game these days. I really hope that starting school will pick my mood up a little.

And I wish I could speak out openly about coping with mental illness and trying to live a more or less normal life. If I were married, I know I would. I love public speaking, and I'm good at it. But I don't want the illness to be the first thing men know about me. I can't risk that. My mother thinks even this blog is too risky; my psychiatrist and friends disagree.
Copyright (c) 2006 "Ayelet Survivor"

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