Andie M. Hayes

Author | Artist

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Let's Talk About Depression

Something most people know about me is that I have an invisible illness. Endometriosis. Endo is what inspired me to write my first memoir. Endo is what has kept me fighting all these years to become a stronger, better me. But I actually have two invisible illnesses—four or five if you count the things wrong with my head. But one is much more common. Migraine.

Last week I had something terrifying happen. Half of my body went numb. My face tingled. My head spun. The pain in my head felt like the pounding on a bass drum. I thought I was having a stroke. My family thought I was having a stroke. At 28 years old. I was rushed to the ER.

Come to find out I had a rare type of migraine. One yet to be defined. Atypical or hemiplegic we’re not entirely sure, but it was terrifying to say the least. You know what else it was. Straining on my families’ relationships. Sure we love each other and I know they want what’s best for me, but in those moments after my incident, I felt alone even when I was surrounded by family. And I think anyone in my situation would have been too, to be honest.

Let me explain. When I was in the ER my aunt never physically left me alone except to put a fire under the doctor’s behinds. At home, my grandfather constantly came to check on me. My mother, who lives out of town, came back to Georgia to make sure I was okay. My dad and sister, who also live out of state, checked on me constantly. I was never actually ALONE. But in in the depths of my mind I was.

In my mind no one was doing enough to help me. But that’s what depression and anxiety do to you, even when you are taking your meds. They make you think that you’re alone no matter what others are doing to help you. I was terrified of what was happening to me and it felt like no one understood. How could they? It wasn’t happening to them. It was happening to me.

Depression is an uphill battle. And adding anxiety to the mix brings a wave of paranoia to the show that no one ever expects. So all that, mixed in with fear, literal paralyzing fear, and what do you get, kiddos? One angry, defensive, immediately shutting down, manic depressive person that will not and cannot express herself like the college educated adult that she is.

That’s depression and anxiety.

Depression is more than just “being sad”. It’s not being able to function when you need to. It’s not being able to sleep when you need it most. It’s not eating, but gaining weight anyway. It’s shutting people out when you need them, but not realizing it until it’s too late. It’s crying for 36 hours straight and not being able to explain why, but not feeling any emotion at all while doing so. Depression is exhausting. And it is always there.

Which is why in the ER with my aunt, I all but shut down. I retreated into myself and stayed there…for days. I’m just now starting to come out, but even still I’m afraid. Afraid that my freak incident will happen again. For days I was afraid to drive. Terrified that it would happen while I was behind the wheel, killing me and someone else. What if next time it’s worse? What if next time it’s so bad it really is a stroke? What if next time I don’t get to the hospital in time? What if this is my new normal? Why do these things keep happening to me??

Anxiety is pretty screwy too, ya know.

But that’s where having a stellar support system comes in. And I really do have one of those. My parents are pretty great, but don’t tell them I said that. And my grandparents are the best. My aunt and uncle tend to be good in a bind too if I do say so myself. I have great friends, that even though they’ve been weeded down, they’ve been trimmed down to the best of the best. Sometimes things work out in ways you never expected them to.

But honestly, this post has been really hard for me to write. I don’t talk about my depression much or my anxiety for that matter. Those things are personal. More personal than the woman’s disease that invades my ovaries. But we need to talk about mental health more. And I feel, for me, this post, feeble though it is, is a start.

I hope to write an essay to add to my endo stories about my depression soon. But that may be too hard to come by. Who knows, maybe my support system will jump into action and whip me into shape one more time.

 

I Never Thought I'd Get Dumped at 28 by Someone I Wasn't Even Dating

So, it took me a while to decide whether or not to write about this experience, because ya know, this blog is supposed to be about books and art and writing. But then I realized, I am a writer and everything that happens in my life is worth writing about. Writing gives me solace. Writing gives me peace of mind. Writing helps me heal. And so, here it goes.

A about a month ago…or maybe it’s been two…my best friend dumped me. You heard me. I got dumped by my best friend. This wasn’t someone I’d only met a year ago and called my “bestie” for fun. This was someone I’d known for five or six years; someone I’d created a real bond with. And so when I was told that we were “growing apart,” I was, in a sense, shell-shocked. I was totally and completely blindsided. I thought we were in a good place. We were planning a trip abroad. We were learning a new language together. We were NOT growing apart. At least from my point of view we weren’t.

From where I was standing, this person was going to be in my life for the rest of my life. She was going to be in my wedding. She was going to be there when I finally published my first book. She was like another sister to me and I assumed she was going to stay that way. Granted, I have another best friend who’s been around since high school and we’ve been through our ups and downs, but this friendship was of a different kind. We’d bonded in a different way; and, I thought that bond was deep enough to make it through anything and everything. I thought that if we had any issues that we could go to each other and talk about them, but que sera sera, ya know?

I’m telling y’all this to say that you never really know what’s going on with someone else. You can think that everything is perfect, but to that other person everything can be a total disaster. They can be holding things against you and you’ll never know it. I was told that my personality is “negative”; that she was “making observations” about things I’d been doing over the years. But I was taught love doesn’t keep account of the injury.

Losing friends in your 20s is a strange feeling. On the one hand, you really are sad. You want to know where it all went wrong and how you can fix it. You can’t help but wonder if things will get back to how they used to be one day. You look for loop holes in the final conversations to see if there’s a chance for that friendship to be rekindled. You miss your friend. But, on the other hand, you don’t care. You want to move on. You want to forget they exist. And if you’re like me, you purge: pictures, text messages, phone numbers, social media, anything that connects you to or reminds you of that person. And then, you tell yourself that you’re better off without them. But are you? Are you really better off alone? Are you even really alone?

When everything first happened, I kept thinking of myself as alone, but then I thought of all the friends I’d been neglecting over the years because I’d let this one friend monopolize my time and life. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. But when you really click with someone you decide, whether consciously or unconsciously, that you want to spend time with them. But then you realize you’re spending all of your time with them; and you’ve let your other friends fall by the wayside until those relationships become superficial and then those friends become mere acquaintances. That’s not fair to anyone.

I realize now that my old friendships need to be rekindled; that I need to put more effort in being a well-rounded friend. I need to put more focus on spending time with more people equally and showing all of my friends love. “Love is all we need,” right? Corny, I know. But still true.

I can’t say that I know I’ll grow from this because there were no warning signs. There was nothing to tell me that things were THIS wrong. Sure, she blew me off a few times, but I thought maybe she really was busy. She had been in the past. There was no reason to not believe the excuses to not do things together. I don’t have a definitive way to know how to grow, but I do know this: letting someone else’s perception of you dominate how you see yourself is not the way to live your life, especially when you know you didn’t do anything wrong. Don’t let someone’s ideas of how you should be dictate how you shape yourself. You are the only one who gets to mold you. YOU are the only one who gets to decide how big or small your personality is. No one else is given that privilege and you shouldn’t give them that power over you. It took me a few days to figure that out but, now that I have, I feel empowered by it, and I need to share it with as many people as I can.

I think in a world like today’s we need to focus on the good in people rather than the bad. By focusing on the bad parts we’re bound to find something we don’t like. We’re going to certainly find some things that aren’t suited to our tastes. But if we look for the good bits, for the parts that reflect qualities we want to see in the world in people, then we will be happier people all around. I’m not being ideological. And I’m not saying ignore the bad parts and only look for the good parts either. I’m just saying, don’t keep account of the injury. Don’t sit and count up the things that have offended you and never, ever say anything to someone until you reach a breaking point. Don’t hold it all in and never let your loved one know what they’re doing wrong or to offend you. It’s rude. It’s unkind. It’s unloving. And it’s being a bad friend.

-A

Do you have any thoughts? Leave me a comment!