December 12, 2009

Going Emo

You were warned.

Some observations from spending far too much time with myself:
  • Competence seems like a pretty cool, objective thing on which to base your self-image...right up to the point where you can't do what you've been doing. Then it all just sort of falls apart. What was the last thing you accomplished? How long ago was it? How good does that next thing need to be to make up for everything undone?
  • Social conventions are basically worthless when things aren't going well. The answer to "How are you doing?" is "Good. And you?" It isn't "Just anemic enough to huff and puff every time I walk up a flight of stairs." It isn't "Too wiped out to figure out how to get to see you but too proud to ask for help if you won't think of it on your own." It isn't "Bored out of my skull from sitting here alone day after day. How would you be doing in my place?"
  • Breaking the social conventions isn't worth it. It just makes more work. It requires reassuring all the friends whose lives have just been shaken up. It requires holding your tongue on things like, "No. I don't need to see a professional to have my attitude adjusted. I need to stop being reasonably anxious and in pain for a while. Barring that, I need a fucking hamburger and someone who can moderate their conversation to the right degree of challenging. Not that you asked how you could help."
  • There are some social conventions you just don't break either way. You don't get sad because someone else's happiness is a contrast to your situation. You don't get angry at people who can't figure out how to say something while you're doing the work to keep up a good front. You don't get envious that someone else is moving ahead with their plans while you're stuck. You don't get jealous that people flock to the social butterflies while you hold yourself back from bringing storm clouds. Not publicly.
  • Being able to read people really well is not an advantage here. Yes, I can tell that my illness scares you. Yes, I can tell that you're fooled by the fact that I gather up all my resources for a public appearance and wonder how sick I can be. Yes, I can tell that your respect for me is based largely on what I accomplish and drops off the same way my self-respect does. Yes, I can tell that you resent the dragging anchor that I've become and that I've stopped taking care of everybody around me. Yes, I can tell you're bored. Yes, I can tell you think I'm whining.
  • Being used to being able to read people well isn't an advantage either, particularly when it comes to ambiguous or incautious statements and very low days. It's hard enough to shake the certainty of depression, harder still when you can't tell yourself that feeling that certain is abnormal.
  • Introverts really hate talking about themselves. Illness brings on a self-preoccupation that gets really damned tedious even to the ill. Combining the two is roughly equivalent to turning into one of those "See no evil..." figures. Blinded, deafened and muzzled.
And that is as much of that as I can stand. You may now return to your regular, interesting programming.


Mike Haubrich said...

You are so amazing, Stephanie, that even though the things you do for you may seem small to you they are giant to me.

Mike Haubrich, FCD said...

So you see why I need an editor? "For me"

Glendon Mellow said...

Repeatedly you manage to articulate the small feelings and large feelings that have no name. Um, just to be objective about it, that's a brilliant post, Stephanie. I can really relate to your third point in particular.

And remember, there's nothing wrong with handling social situations by being quiet for a while and when attention turns to you, saying, "Plus, I can kill you with my brain".

Unknown said...

I'm so sorry that things still suck. (Hugs)

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post. And your Carnival of the Elitist Bastards was possibly the most stylish carnival ever.

Even if you did write "It's" for "Its". Twice.

Jason Thibeault said...

If Jodi and I were able to visit, we would, and we'd totally let you whine for hours on end without a complaint (but maybe a coffee/burger run or three). Promise. Kind of an empty promise since we can't actually prove it, but there you have it.

Also, I would have my housecoat with me, which is so awesome that if I were to lend it to you, any depression would implode in on itself.

D. C. said...

"How are you?" isn't a question. The correct response is "How are you?"

Convention satisfied.

(I can partially identify, after spending a good bit of last year unable to use my legs. Not as bad as your situation, but frustrating anyway.)

Best wishes, Stephanie. Ping if you need someone to vent at.

critter said...

I hope you get through this shit. Take care of yourself. And if anyone is upset that you don't meet their expectations over the 'holidays': frak em.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Heather R. said...

Yeah, what Anonymous said. I agree completely. And I'll have the wontons with chicken lo mein.
Oh wait, did I read that right? I thought that said.... Hmmm, nevermind then.

Stephanie Zvan said...

Thanks, all.

Glendon, it's just possible that I already terrify people enough.

Anonymous, you want style?

Jason, I am very much hoping I will get to meet the housecoat in person.

Heather, sorry. I don't keep the spam around. Even in Chinese.

D. C. said...

Glendon, it's just possible that I already terrify people enough.

That depends on the value of "enough."

$DAUGHTER is visiting. She's found that terrifying guys in particular is a very useful filter, and is working on the fine tuning.

Come to think of it, $HERSELF is of the "rip their faces off to get their attention" school. If you haven't guessed, I kinda like that.

ScientistMother said...

I'm sorry your going through this. I never know what to say in these situations, so I usually go with honesty.

I don't know what to say or what you need. Tell me what you need me to say, and I'll say it. Tell me what you need me to do and I'll do it.

Anonymous said...

Where I'm from, "How are you doing?" is a genuine question, and only asked if you want to know the answer. It's a glorious thing, and I always miss it when I travel.