Friday, May 22, 2009

Talking to Friends and Family about being Depressed

I was talking with my sister yesterday and she was completely surprised when I said I was depressed. In fact her comment was you were fine when I saw you Wednesday. She said you were happy ... at which point I told her that when I left your house to go "shopping" I was really just crying in my car for two hours.

I have always had an amazing ability to "pull it together" for a few hours so that others don't know how I am feeling. My sister said that she doesn't understand why I would hide what's going on from her. And I guess the answer is that my pride gets in the way. I have long struggled with my "perfect" image. When I was pregnant I was at a conference and heard a speaker who was talking about being your authentic self. Something in her talk made me realize that I do not show my authentic self to pretty much anyone except my husband -- not even my closest friends.

And I'm not neccesarily talking about just telling people about being depressed or that I'm bipolar. Whatever the struggles I have -- I tell no one.

It goes beyond my illness. I would be horrified if someone arrived at my house and it wasn't clean. In fact, I wouldn't let them in because I wouldn't want someone to think I was messy. I guess I want others to think that I'm perfect. I'm happy, life is good, there are no problems here.

It's a tough act to pull off. Especially when I have days I can't get out of bed. This past week when my nanny asked if I was ok or sick or something ... I made up some excuse about a bad period and headaches ... when the truth is she noticed I haven't been working when she is here I have instead been staying in my bedroom ... staring at the wall and hoping that I can gather up enough energy to be mom once she leaves.

Does anyone else do this? Pretend that everything is OK-- even to your loved ones.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've always been "the caretaker" the one who made sure everyone else was doing what the needed or being their support. I wouldn't say I had the same issue with needing to portray a "perfect image" but I would say I always needed to take care of others before my own needs and that often meant not talking about how I was feeling if I thought someone would worry. During my first trimester I was working 60-hour weeks, dealing with the recent death of my father (who I had been helping to take care of for several years), and a severe result on my pap smear which indicated possible cancer...did I mention I was in my first trimester and had stopped my bipolar meds as soon as I found out? On top of that I had my thyroid removed as a teenager and had not been taking my thyroid meds properly, I was a complete mess and without utilizing my support net (my husband, mother, and close friends) I ended up telling my midwife how bad I was feeling and she urged me to check into a hospital immediately. I couldn't believe I was going through with it, and while I was in I often thought about how I shouldn't have been that bad, and realized what I had done to myself by not paying more attention to what I needed and by not talking about how I felt on a daily basis, even if it meant talking to a friend and saying, "today I'm irritable", or telling my husband "today I'm really tired" just letting them know a little bit they can keep an eye on me or ask questions, or even plan something to get me out of a funk. And when I think about it, these are all things I do for them, and in the end it makes all my relationships better because it's always a two-way street. I've realized that talking everyday, if only for a few mintues can totally change my attitude if only for simply getting it out of my system and not festering on things.

Anonymous said...

I have bipolar. I get really depressed in the winter months. I pretend I am okay in front of everyone. Even my husband. Every week or two I will have a melt down. Cry for hours and this will surprise my husband because I seem fine most of the time. I really do have to remind him that I am depressed and that is why I don't feel like doing certain things all the time.

Tori said...

My biggest issue is that I'm so good at hiding my depressions and my manias that people don't know that anything was wrong until I'm back to normal and they suddenly realize there is a difference to how I just was. It's incredibly frustrating because I don't really mean to hide from the people who just want to take care of me, but I still do it anyway.

Anonymous said...

I totally know your pain on this subject, I feel some days are a complete lie. It takes so much effort to just maintain normal! I feel like if people could open up my head and see how bad it is on the inside they would be shocked. You are a wonderful mother, I'm sure of it and the effort it takes to maintain that each and every day must seem overwhelming but you can do it. You have had BP for 16 years, this is just a rough spot. Listen to your doctors, spend time being honest with your husband, and just give it time. I have been a rapid-cycler for the last four years and if there is one piece of advice I can give you it is "This too shall pass." I think my depression deepens when I cycle becuase I keep thinking, "I felt so good yesterday, why not today" and it just makes things worse. So my advice is to keep the faith, you will get better, you will get through this rough spot, and you will be the best mother you can be!

OUTTAlights said...

I have always hid things from everyone. I hide in my house and did not want anyone to know. My husband knows now that I am married. I even have many relatives that do not believe I am Bipolar even though I am on disability and been hospitilized MANY times. I am pregnant now and on my 9th month. I am extrememly impressed I have gone without meds but I think in my case the pregnancy hormones helped me. I have close friends that have said that I should remain pregnant b/c I am so much more stable!
It is hard to be my 'authentic' self. I mean ppl really do not want to know that you really are depressed and would rather sleep, drink, over-dose or slit your wrist than be cohernt for the day. I mean, turthfully, do they? My experience is no. Ppl love me manic. I get so much done, but don't cross me or tell me I a wrong in that mood or you will be in for a fight and I WILL win. I have done that at work. Made a co-worker cry b/c of it. Funny thing, I have no idea what I really said...I just went off. It happens. So, really the next time someone REALLY wants to know how I feel or denies my bipolar. I think they should ask my husband what he thinks or maybe I will just show them the scars!

Rachael said...

Thank you all for leaving a comment. It is nice to know I'm not the only one with these issues. I hope that you are enjoying the blog when I first started it I wondered if anyone would ever want to read it.


-Rachael

Lauren said...

Yes, I totally agree! In fact, this has been on my mind for the past few days as I am now pregnant, off medicine and feeling terrible...I would like to talk about it with my friends but...somehow I cannot express it with them. It is even hard to explain my feelings to my husband. It's almost impossible for me to not ACT happy and upbeat even when I'm feeling the opposite.

Candi said...

I sympathize with you. Especially since I had my daughter 2 years ago, I feel like I lost the right to feel my emotions the same way I used to. So I'm hiding it a lot. I don't want my daughter to see me losing it, either. Now that I'm also 7 months pregnant it just be a crazy rollercoaster. I've always been able to pull it together enough to function and put up a good exterior.

Cycle Mom said...

I hid my illness so well for years that some of my family still don't think I was 'really' sick that it was just a post baby phase. My husband always feels like he's keeping a secret and or betrayed when I'm faking it. We are not throwing caution the to the wind and trying to conceive #2. I've been in great control for the better part of one year..... so we will see...
I'm so glad that I found your blog!!!

formerly buried rage said...

Rachael, I am so grateful for your blog and your raw honesty. "Does anybody else do this, pull it together for a few hours." I do this all the time. Hooray for someone else admitting this. I am a perfectionist and this is the hardest person to be. I have a fear that if I be my authentic self, people wont like me. I try to portray a perfect image all the time, so people will continue to like me... not sure if this is BP or just plain inferior complex. I do full time tafe almost every day, spending 3 hours each morning, and 3 hours each arvo with a class full of 20 people plus the teahcer. There are so many dynamics to consider for that amount of time. At lunch I drive home every single lunch to gather myself to prepare for the afternoon. If I dont have lunch on my own, I honestly would nt be able to pull it off.
Wow I can hear you when you say, bad headache, etc staring at the wall wondering how you are going to cope when the nanny has gone. I can fully understand just how that would feel like. And I havnt a child yet. Keep your posts coming, and know that with one other human in the world you never have to pretend. It is very relieving to know this. I feel normal.

yo-yo mommy said...

First I have to say that this is the first time that I have ever really searched out other people who live with bi polar. So now that you know that I can say that I truly Know what you are going through. I always thought that having other to talk to that had bi polar was just sitting around complaining and useing it as a crutch.
I am very open about my bi polar. I like people knowing that I have it. But the catch is that I will not let people know when I am struggling. I was married once before and well lets just say that my bi-polar and my lack of being mature ruined our relationship. I learned something very important durning my break up and that was that no matter how much people love and care or say that they understand they don't understand. And because they love you and care for you they do end up running our of patients. They don't have bi-polar so they have a very hard time watching the ones the love go through that kind of ups and downs it doesn't make sense to them.
So after that I was single for a long time and I got very good at talking about what would happen that way when it did people would be prepared for how I took care of myself. For example, I have spent a long time educating my self, I have done the meds and I choose to do it alone. Scary I know. I went through a few months of being just so depressed not really crying as much as just blah. I disappeared from my friends during that time. I just went to work and came home. ( Keeping my self at work was the only thing that made me not go over the edge I was a nail tech so having my clients to talk to even though I was pretending helped alot.) I watched a lot of dvd seasons. Then eventually the cloud lifted and I pulled out of it. Then the cycles continue.
I have heard many times what your sister said to you. But to be very honest I like it that way because I feel that it keeps me on my toes. Keeps me tracking my cycles. I feel like when and if it ever happens that someone see my fall apart then I am not doing very good and its out of my control. So far Im doing good I think for the last four years.
It wasn't until these last two months that I found out that I am pregnant that I just not doing good which has lead me to searching out others with bi polar in hopes of getting new suggestion for coping. I am still using things that have worked before but there lots of things that just don't work. Like I stuck to a schedule of working cleaning and project to keep me busy. I do much better when I am busy. But I don't always feel great. I am always so tired. I would just really be so happy with any suggestions you have in getting through the next 8 months. Thanks so much I hope all is well with you.

FirstandGoal said...

I have been diagnosed with bipolar for a year now, and I have just recently started searching out sites about bipolar moms. I am so glad that there are others out there that feel the same as I do. I never let anyone see how I feel. When I go places everyone would think that I am just another normal mom. I don't even let my family know how I feel and my husband is so oblivious to everything he doesn't even notice. I have a 4 year old and a 2 year old and its so hard to be the mother I want to be. I have my meltdowns and depression that just never seems to end. I am a stay at home mom and still can't keep my house together. I don't let anyone in unless it is perfect, and we do not leave the house unless everyone looks perfect. I don't want anyone to think that I am the terrible mother that I think that I am. I just hate this illness. I even have a hard time telling my pshychiatrist or my therapist how I'm feeling because I don't want them to think bad things about me. It's just a mess. I try not to show my emotion and look stable for my children but it is so hard to do. There are days that I just don't want to do it anymore and I just want to walk out the door and not come back. I think that one reason that I still haven't gotten the right medications is because I don't open up to my doctor like I should. I just don't know anymore... Sorry if this doesn't make sense, it just kept spilling out.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a mom yet, but that is something I deal with everyday. I would rather people think I am fine than have them really know what is going on inside. Cloudy days during the winter are especially hard. I just want to curl up and forget that the world exists. I worry how I will cope with work on my bad days. My husband tries to help, but I dont want to become dependent on him. I want to be able to cope with it by myself. I hope when its my turn to be a mother, that I will be a good mother.