Why I Vanish Sometimes

So, um, people always discover that I sometimes disappear off the radar for anything from weeks to months, no warning, no obvious reason. Email doesn’t get checked, blogs don’t get updated, I’m not on Facebook or anywhere else online.

This invariably makes me feel guilty, and the longer it goes on, the harder it is to break it and reappear – even though I now have the most amazing friends in the world, ones who are still there with open arms when I come back.

The short explanation is, anxiety and depression suck.*

* Relatively speaking, there are many many people in the world who are much worse off than I am. I’m endlessly grateful for my furkids, Jackie, my friends, having a home and food, the country I live in. That said – invisible disabilities are tough, and psychiatric disabilities have a nasty stigma attached.

The longer explanation is, I’ve been fighting social anxiety most of my life, depression over half my life since roughly the age of 17, seasonal affective disorder that seems to get worse as I get older, and more generalized anxiety has come creeping in over time. Yes, I’ve talked to my doctor (who’s wonderful), and I see a psychiatrist for occasional check-ins. I’ve tried many kinds of meds, and increasingly, they come with horrible side effects that only make things worse. Neurofeedback seems to be helping far more than meds. This means a weekly visit to have electrodes on my head while sitting in a comfy chair with new-age-y music playing and funky music-visualization-like patterns on a screen in front of me – it’s worked very well, and has no nasty side-effects, but it isn’t magic and it’s fighting something that’s been very strong for a very long time.

Yes, I know that most of what makes my heart start pounding and my hands shake is illogical, and that the negativity that clouds everything on bad days is the product of my own distorted perception. Yes, I’m aware that fleeing into my own little physical and mental and imaginary part of the universe when under stress is maybe not the most sensible response (although there are worse ones). No, I can’t just decide to look at things differently or snap out of it or any of the other stupid cliche “advice” that’s offered to people with depression and/or anxiety. There’s quite a good short video on what’s actually happening in depressed brains.

Without getting into too much detail, I’ve spent over twenty years trying to climb out of a hole, and somehow every time I stretch farther in hopes that maybe this time I’ll at least get a tentative grip on the edge, I end up falling back into the hole and the impact makes it deeper. The last two falls were bad ones (a horribly poisonous work environment combined with a failure to balance work and the rest of my life, followed by a nightmare experience in an animal shelter I still consider a concentration and death camp for cats) and at this point, I don’t know how long it’s going to take for me to gather up the courage to try again. Just allowing myself to think about some of what I saw in that so-called “Humane Society” still makes me feel like I’m right there all over again and still helpless to do anything even to ease their fear and… oh hell, that’s as far as I’m going with that thought, that was enough to do it, and that was a few years ago.

For the foreseeable future, what I do is going to continue to be based on what I can do around the depression and anxiety. I really have no choice in the matter.

Anyway, I keep promising myself and the world I won’t disappear again, and yet I always do. But wait a while, and I’ll be back. Again.

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