I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…but can I?
By Buffy Close
Once upon a time, I was going to do it all and have it all. I was going to be an actress, a dancer, a singer, a business owner, an author, a teacher, and a psychologist. It sounds like the whims of a child and bears the mark of an extremely ambitious five-year-old. Only this was last week. And I’m not five years old anymore.
I am a 36 year old mother of three who spends most of her time scraping her way up a ladder that at times seems insurmountable and at other times appears to be nothing more than a blip in my subconscious.
I can do it all, have it all and be it all!
It’s the kind of over eager optimism that one would expect from a teenager, but not from a feet planted firmly on the ground middle aged woman.
I’ll never have anything.
The same voice that only a week ago told me I could do anything, tells me I am a failure and that I am unable to compete. That it doesn’t matter how many A’s I earn or how hard I work, I will never succeed.
I am plagued by this up and down. By feelings of absolute euphoria that come to a staggering halt before dropping my brain off a 500 foot cliff into darkness and exhaustion. My now husband convinced me to see a doctor early in our marriage, citing symptoms of depression. “But how can I be depressed” I would argue “when I am not suicidal and not depressed all the time?” I hated the drugs that my doctor would prescribe. They made me sluggish, took away my creativity and made me feel stale. Like I was looking in on life instead of living it. Time after time, I would go off the pills and wait for the euphoria to return, to feel like me again.
It would cause me to emotionally recoil when anyone brought up depression as a possibility. I was not depressed. I had plans. Sure, I stopped and started all of those plans repetitively and my will to see anything to fruition was incredibly low, but I would tell myself that was just because I hadn’t found my niche yet. My inability to hold a job for longer than 6 months was an issue as well as my tendency to resort to cutting and bad poetry as a means of escape. But I was not depressed. I was told that I was emotional, I was dramatic, that I just wanted attention and I was one of those emo kids. I was called lazy, unfocused and undisciplined. I jumped around from grand idea to grand idea with each attempt at greatness diluting into yet another black hole which I would only come out of once I had completely burned my bridges. I moved a lot. I felt a compulsive need to reinvent myself every 6 months. Every new opportunity was embraced with zeal and an energy that I told myself was a result of this path finally being the right one.
Until I would fall again. Until I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. Until the paranoia would set in and I would become convinced that everyone hated me and they only praised me for their own sick fun, to watch me fail. To watch me fall.
At 36, I have come to terms with the fact that this is not normal. That healthy, balanced people do not have this emotional upheaval and that no, I may not be depressed. But I am something. At 36, I have decided to find out what causes me to peak and fall, and to be open to the idea that medication may not be the enemy that I have made it out to be. So tomorrow I will call my family doctor and I will make an appointment.
I am terrified.
Image courtesy of Buffy Close
Buffy is a Canadian artist who would rather be acting or drinking coffee, it’s a toss up.
I relate to this so much, with the up and downs and do it alls, I’m also in my 30s.
Buffy. I can relate to your story. My whole life just never happened and I’m 58. Thank you for your story. I hope you get the help you desire.
Best of luck at the doctor’s. Getting meds right is definitely trial and error, as is getting the right diagnosis. Took 20 years for my diagnosis to change from depressed to bipolar II.