I became a certified scuba diver in 1998. After months of feeling like I might drown and/or am underwater, and after a particularly bad visit with some family members, I am realizing that I have been in possession of a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus. I am still here. I am alive. I am not drowning. I don’t want to drown and, in fact, I am still swimming.
Ironically, it was the uninvited (and unqualified) assessment of my mental health that helped me see all this. My family member called my best friends, concerned that I had “changed.” She, of course, postured herself as a most qualified and compassionate rescue diver, suggesting that I was in deep water and would not be able to get myself back to the surface. She even went so far as to suggest to them that I perhaps need a decompression chamber and should be in a hospital myself.
This, coming from a woman who has never, ever gone scuba diving and given her ginger quality (she has red hair and very fair skin) she hardly ever goes to the beach let alone in the water. She has never participated in therapy herself and yet she had the audacity to say she is disappointed with my therapist (whom she has never met) because I haven’t been put on medication. So, even though she has never opened even a magazine about scuba diving, she was going to be “helpful” by saying she knows how much air I have left in that rebreather tank of mine.
Just so you all know, I am in therapy and have been for years, even paying out pocket for the last year (since I have been unemployed – another difficulty I am navigating right now). In response to my therapist’s recommendation, I made an appointment with my primary care physician to get – among other things – an evaluation to determine if starting an anti-depressant is something I should consider. The results of that conversation? Nah. Not unless I really want to.
Why not? 1) I am not as depressed as I thought I was. I was comparing myself to myself at different times in my life and, yes, I am depressed. Who wouldn’t have reactive depression? But when comparing myself to other places on can be the spectrum of depression… 2) I am not only doing a lot of things “right” for myself, there are many other things I can continue to do for my own emotional well-being. Like exercising. Getting a dog. Spending more time with friends. All of which I have begun doing more. Plus… 3) It is finally not freezing where I live. The sun has been occasionally shining and the temperatures are sometimes in the 70s. 4) Did I mention I got a dog? A puppy actually. American Cocker Spaniel. While he is like having a baby again, Luna and I are totally in love with him.
Anyway, my relative never sat me down over my favorite cup of coffee and said, “I’d like to talk to you about how concerned I am about you since you have so much going on (Luna’s hospitalizations; your unemployment; the pending trial with your ex-husband). No. She came to my house, refused to share when she was planning to leave, and felt my questions about her itinerary were an invasion of her privacy (how ironic!) and responded as if I was being disrespectful.
I was being disrespectful for making sure my family didn’t suck my tank dry?
The gift about getting angry is that it reminds us we are alive and that we have power. I told them they needed to leave. They did and they took their “life boat” of self-righteousness with them.
To be clear, I am aware I need help. I am stuck between a rock and a hard place and I want to get out. I see it’s going to take time to do so. I also know that I need to conserve the air I have. And once I get myself unstuck, I can make an emergency ascent if necessary. I’ve not only been trained, I have done it before. And I’m not alone. I know I have people at the surface who know I’m down here and want to help me. Someone dropped a fresh tank of air for me. I don’t know how they
did it but I got it and I’m gonna use it to get out of here and back to the surface.