Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Great Girl. Too Bad She's Crazy.

There’s something about me that only my close friends & family know. It’s not that I’m ashamed of it, it’s just not a part of my life I often share, because I’ve never felt it defines who I am, nor do I think it is vital information. As I stumble through my Manbbatical- & get a deeper, ubiquitous perspective of myself- I realize it is undeniably a huge part of my emotional make-up.
I’ve suffered from depression my whole life. I’m not sure when it 1st sprouted from the sad seeds I harbor, but it’s followed me like a shadow for as long as I can remember. When I was 15, my mind was clouded with dark thoughts, & my spirit & vigor were inspired by negativity. I absolutely hated myself. I felt I had been bestowed so many blessings, & not only did I feel I didn’t deserve them, but continuously sabotaged everything good in my life. As a result of my family’s attention & support (along with doctors & pills), I began to heal the wounds in my heart & mind. Things started to look up, & I thought it had simply been a tough phase. At 22, the disease reared its’ ugly head, once again. This time, it was determined to bring me down. It nearly did. I suffered a nervous breakdown at 23, & ended up in a psychiatric hospital. I stayed there as in in-patient for 3 weeks, & an out-patient for 4 months, attending hours of different kinds of therapy every day. (No joke- I met a boyfriend when I was on a day-pass. He loved the drama of it all. In retrospect, he should have been in there with me. And for longer.) I quit drinking, & lost my appetite. I lost 70lbs in 3 months (which wasn’t all bad, as I had been pushing 205lbs at the time…). I learned a lot about myself, a lot about mental illness, & a lot about tolerance. I learned that had I been dealt a different hand from the universe’s deck, I’d be homeless, jobless, & friendless. Which wouldn’t really matter- because I’d be dead! (tee hee!) Lucky for me (and for you!) I came out on the other side, once again. But its’ presence haunted me, still (like a creepy monster under the bed). I knew how to avoid getting sick: eat well, stay sober, exercise, surround myself with people I love, etc… At 28, none of these things worked anymore (though staying completely sober never really happens) & I could feel myself losing the battle to that rat-bastard, once again. In fact, I drank so much (to self-medicate, obviously) that my liver got diseased, my skin began to turn yellow, & I couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs. I got mono, which worsens depression. I had to stop drinking, & was dry for 1 ½ yrs. My body has never fully recovered. When I get tired now (which happens much more easily than it used to) I NEED to rest. Once again, my friends (namely BAIT, ÇA-RAGE, VOT, SHANIQUA, CELESTIE & TWINS) & my family (& a new cocktail of drugs & Drs.) saved me. It’s been a long recovery process, one that never really ends. It’s crawled its way into my life like weeds through the cracks in the sidewalk.
At 33, it’s been years (the longest stretch ever) since my depression has made an appearance. I am learning to live with it. Finally. It’s a deficiency that I live with, like wearing my eye-glasses, or having one breast WAAAAAY bigger than the other. I no longer live in fear of being haunted by depression. I’ve been pretty happy for the past few years, & when I get upset, I let myself be so. My skin has thickened (& returned to it's natural pink), & I don’t mind being sensitive & vulnerable at times. Everybody gets low. It can’t be that surprising either, by the way, that I became an actress & comedian. Although neither one of these professions offer the stability that I probably require, I obviously thrive on drama & (sort of) living on the edge. I feel okay with THAT, as well. In fact, I feel pretty okay with a lot of who I’ve become, & how I live. And that feels pretty great. So SUCK IT, depression. SUCK IT HARD.


Alex said...

Awesome, Claire. Churchill referred to is as his "black dog". I know there are dark places in which very few will go with you. They're lonely places. Hang in there, Babe; you're stronger than it is. You'll always win out.


Lisa said...

Keep on truckin'!

Anyway I think you're saner than me.

Thomas Dzubin said...

Writing things down (even in public) always helps you "process" things and will lead toward a healthier you.

Anonymous said...

I really appreciate how raw and open you are about such a personal experience. You're able to put your vulnerabilities out for everyone to read, and THAT makes you strong. Kudos.

Mary Louise said...

Depression is a "recession" of the soul.
Through a labyrinth of labourious study, support, and effort, a weary mind can surface buoyant and sanguine.
Clairey, your delicate, dulcet portrayal
of mental disease enlightens everyone.

Dr, Asia said...

I've been reading since you started your little adventure in sexual prohibition and it seems you are getting to the core of yourself now.

Getting into the real meat of what is driving you rather than the superficial distractions we all use to hide (booze, relationships, sleep etc...)

Good to see, better to read and much more inspirational to those of us who are still trying to find our own demons in the dark.

claire elyse said...

i have to admit, when i woke up this morning i was terrified to see the reaction of my readers & felt like maybe i'd made a huge mistake. i'm really glad i put it out there. thanks you so much.

Anonymous said...

Good God Claire.... If I didn't know better, I'de swear you were writing about me. That EVIL entity (depression) has haunted me since I was 20, and still tries to barge it's way into my mind,body, and soul. With all the people I've met with the same issues, they are indeed the funniest people I have ever met!! Hmmm, tears of a clown??? Keep on keepin'....thank you Claire for being so open about this,,, today atleast, I don't feel so agonizing alone!! :) Brandee

Anonymous said...

I don't know why it's such a taboo when so many people suffer from depression (myself included). I find that whenever I share that information with someone who is ignorant of the condition, they are quick to label you crazy or emotionally unstable and they hold it against you. Suddenly that becomes your defining characteristic. They think you can't handle things and they tiptoe around your emotions or they use it to provoke you in arguments. It's brave of you to put it out there like this and own it, just don't let others use this to define who you are because you are so much more.

Judith said...

THANK YOU for talking about it. So many people suffer from depression and it is awesome that you had the courage to talk openely about it. We all have depression around us, wheter it is us, our kids, parents, siblings or friends. love, Jude

claire elyse said...

much love, jude. xoxox

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