I’m struggling with being unreliable in my everyday life/work. For the first time in my life, starting months ago with my collapse, I am not the reliable, responsible, get-things-done person.

It’s been both a welcome relief from pressure, and it continues to scare the shit out of me.

A number of things, beyond and on top of my battle with depression/anxiety, are causing an ongoing state of flux. Which means it’s hard for me to guarantee I can be there and complete tasks. Which makes me unreliable. I can’t promise something when I honestly have no idea what the next few weeks/months will bring or what will happen next.

And all of this right when I’m trying to re-enter life and move forward beyond my breakdown. To get back to being reliable, but with better boundaries. The timing sucks rotten eggs.

I know there are people in my life that have walked away from me (some without talking to me) because I’ve been unreliable. It makes me sad. And a bit angry. Why? Because I have been the reliable one for my entire life. For everyone. And now that I can’t be that, some folks walk away without even a conversation. It hurts, too. Hurts a lot. But mostly it makes me sad. Because I know there’s nothing I can do to “fix” it or change their mind/opinion, even while I respect their decision. I don’t know what their struggles are right now, and they might not be able to deal with me and my struggles/issues/depression/anxiety.

I also don’t have anything left to fight anyone or anything. All of my energy is focused on other things, both moving forward through my mid-life breakdown, and the recent things beyond/on top of it. And as anyone with depression/anxiety will tell you, many days just continuing to breathe is a big ask.

Which brings me back to struggling with being unreliable.

I can’t remember ever being that. I’ve *always* been the one to get-stuff-done. The one that is always there to help, to support, to step in and fill in the gap. The substitute player from the sidelines, that people depend on and assume will step-in, even though most of the time they forget I’m there. The one people call when they need something because they know I’m reliable/responsible and trustworthy and won’t judge them no matter what is going on and what they need. It’s not my place to judge them and their challenges/journey. I’m not them. So instead I do my best to support them, to be there, and be that reliable/responsible/helpful person. For anyone and everyone.

It makes me uncomfortable to not be that reliable person for everyone. To be the one that needs help but is still learning how to ask for it. It had become part of my identity, to be reliable. I feel like I’m floundering, floating along un-tethered. I’m not sure how to ground myself.

I don’t want to be unreliable. But right now I have to choose to continue it. Because turning my back on the things that are causing the flux and uncertainty isn’t something I could live with. I have to put those things first, to take care of me, to let someone else be the reliable/responsible/get-it-done person for everyone. The alternative, to walk away from the things causing the uncertainty in my life…I know I’d regret it. So it’s a non-starter. I can’t do it. I won’t.

And it’s hard. I feel guilty when I think about what I’m not doing and what other people have had to pick up starting when my collapse/breakdown happened all the way to now. But the thought of not putting everything causing the flux before everything else makes me ill, which is worse than the guilt.

So I choose the guilt. I choose the struggle with being the unreliable one in my everyday life/work.

I’m working on finding a happy medium where I can be present in my everyday life/work yet be unreliable in the long-term picture, but it’s a struggle. It’s not black and white. There are no clear defined lines/boundaries to work with in this struggle. It’s all gray and nebulous.

But some things will always outrank everything else and will always be worth the struggle. And being unreliable right now is worth it.

Posted in depression | Leave a comment

Not all asthma

Yeah, yeah. A play on the #notallxxxx that’s everywhere these days.

But there are various types of asthma. Not all asthma is the same, and as such they need different types of treatments. I have adult-onset, cough-variant, intermittent, intrinsic (non-allergic) asthma. It’s a mouthful. And hard to get out when you can’t fucking breathe or stop coughing.

“Chronic cough as the only sign of asthma is often referred to as cough variant asthma. It’s usually a dry, hacking cough that may worsen following exercise, talking, laughing or crying. Pulmonary function tests may be normal or reveal a mild obstructive pattern. When pulmonary function tests are normal, a positive methacholine challenge helps support the diagnosis of asthma. Such patients often have a dramatic response to asthma medications included beta agonists (albuterol), cromolyn sodium and or inhaled corticosteroids.” — The Asthma Center Educational and Research Fund

I’ve had the “official” diagnosis via the methacholine test. That’s a terrifying experience. Under close supervision, you inhale a chemical (micro-doses) that, if you have asthma and not just a temporary respiratory infection, reacts with something in your lungs and triggers an asthma attack in a very small concentration dose. No joke. They purposefully trigger an attack in order to diagnose you. Granted there’s a doctor right there ready to administer the albuterol to stop it, but that doesn’t make it any less terrifying. I had allergy tests as well, and my reaction to all the stuff they poked me with wasn’t significant enough to record. So no allergies. Just asthma.

Breathing is WORK when my asthma kicks in. And I’m working really fucking hard right now to just suck in oxygen. Long walks with the dog? Run errands? Long conversations? Nope, nope, and nope. Breathing. Just breathing is exhausting. Walk to the bathroom? Better have a chair half-way there to rest.

So asthma is as diverse as depression/anxiety. There’s no cure or solution, just treatments to manage symptoms and help you function. What’s frustrating is this isn’t known. Everyone has a suggestion for how to “fix” my lungs or asthma episode or prevent an attack. Triggers are just as unique. And since my asthma isn’t what everyone sees on t.v. or in the movies or the more common exercise-induced asthma type, no one believes that it’s real, kind of like depression/anxiety. Yeah, the invisible diseases (#TeamAlligator all the way).

I’m starting to wonder if the gods and goddesses are conspiring to prevent me from going back to work and getting back into a (new) routine and life. They might be at the point of bludgeoning me in the head to get their point across. What say you?

And please, STOP telling me things are in my head, for fucks’ sake. STOP telling me how to “fix” myself, or that I’m doing it wrong. STOP telling me to “pull myself together” or some variation of pulling myself up by my bootstraps. STOP telling me you have a “cure”. Just STOP. I don’t need anyone else berating me or making me feel guilty about everything. I’m doing good enough job beating myself up about it all and more. I don’t need help knocking myself around in my head, and I’m already plenty black & blue.

Posted in asthma | 3 Comments

On the sidelines

I was trying to explain to someone sometime in the past month about being alone and what I meant by that. In the strictest definition of the word, I am not alone. I have people in my life, in fact, I’m surrounded by people. But you can still be alone in a crowd.

But that’s not what I mean by alone.

The best metaphor I could figure out was the difference between being on the sidelines versus being on the field/pitch.

The field/pitch is where the action is and where everyone focuses. The folks on the sidelines are pretty much ignored/forgotten. In fact, in most cases the folks on the field/pitch could give two shits about the sidelines. They’re the key players, the important players, the team core, first string, etc.

Until we’re needed.

Then the sidelines are remembered. We are called in to sub, literally substitute, for one of the key players. And it looks like you belong, like you, the sub, fits. But in reality you are a placeholder for the first string player everyone is waiting to come back on the field/pitch.

The folks on the sidelines are also used/asked to fix things for the people on the field/pitch, or help. Bring something. Fetch this. Trade their broken thing for your non-broken one so they can keep playing while you fix theirs for them. We’re reliable. The key players know we’ll be there.

But as a sideline player, you aren’t included as a contributor to the win. You’re not first string. You’re secondary, and therefore your contribution is considered less than. Even if you end up doing/playing more than the first string that game. It doesn’t matter. The credit still goes to the key players and team core, and us sidelines folks are pleasantly surprised (and often shocked) if we’re remembered.

But you, the sideline player, are sure as hell used as an excuse when it’s a loss.

And then you’re forgotten again. Until they need a sub or someone to fix/help or meet a need they have or they need an excuse.

As a sideline player, you don’t know who, if anyone, you can lean on, rely on. Just because you’re on the field/pitch now, and it appears to observers that or sometimes even feels like you are part of the core, you never really are. You aren’t privy to the intimate communication between the key players. You are there, but not included. There are little gestures, inside jokes, etc. that as a sub you never learn and no one ever tells you.

As a sideline player, you try leaning on or relying on someone. But inevitably they aren’t there when *you* need them, but only when they need you.

I’ve been the sideline player for most (all?) of my life. I’m the “sub” for the friend that isn’t available. The one they call when they need help. Moving and being the new-kid/person every few years (with no support community like the military) didn’t help my sideline role. Everyone new starts on the sideline. How you get chosen to be first string, part of the core/key players I have no idea. I’ve never figured it out.

Maybe I’m just not a good reader of people. I choose to believe in the best of everyone, and give credit where credit is due. I believe that if I’m there for them, they’ll be there for me. I try to refrain from judging other people’s journeys and decisions. Maybe that makes me less able to figure out who I can trust, or maybe I’m just naive.

Because I usually get it wrong and trust the wrong person/people. And then end up floundering. End up reaching out into nothing. End up going it alone yet again.

Total trust fall fail. And as anyone that has experienced a trust fall fail, it really fucking hurts when you hit the ground.

If I get nothing else from my mid-life breakdown/decent into depression, it is showing me who I can trust. And per my trust fall fail pattern, who’s been there and who’s not has surprised me more than once. Who is sincerely in my corner, and who’s just biding time until I can be “useful” to them again.

I am sincerely grateful for each and every one that has reached out, been patient, didn’t give up on me, hold it against me, or take it personally when I stepped off the carousel of life for awhile. It gives me hope that I won’t always be on the sidelines. Maybe I, with all y’all, will change the game instead.


*Mind you, I’m only talking about my personal life and friendships/relationships. Work involves a whole other set of factors, including internal local politics, internal culture, power games, etc., all on a much grander scale than an individual trying to figure out who the friends are that they can trust if they need help and reach out.

Posted in depression, friendship | 1 Comment