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Telling You Things | Manolo for the Big Girl

Telling You Things

Okay my little carnitas, I’m sorry for the lack of posts –I’ve been traveling and dealing with some serious dramz– but I’ve got to Tell People Things and YOU, you lucky little limpopos, are my beloved audience so strap in because mama’s got Things To Say.

IF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM AND NEED HELP, GET HELP.

HOW? HOW is that so hard? It’s not hard. Hard is fighting cancer. Hard is sneaking into the Real Madrid locker room for that ever-risky third time. Hard is being 6’2″ in heels and convincing your 5’3″ tango instructor Osvaldo to not use them as pillows, no matter how tempting and conveniently located they are because you’re pretty sure his wife and her paramilitary unibrow are both in Mossad and will cut you. THAT is hard.

Swallowing a pill once a day?

Not.

That.

Hard.

Listen, I know it’s not that simple. Really I do. I’m a Southern writer, we collect mental illness the way Yankees collect hard vowels and undeserved literary prizes, and yet I implore you: If you have a mental illness that you are not 100% on top of at this very moment, get on top of it. If you need help getting on top of it email me at plumcake@shoeblogs.com. I can find you help, or at least a starting place for help, any place in the world except in Antarctica. If you live in Antarctica maybe you should look at your choices. I know penguins are cute; they’re still not a valid lifestyle choice. Though I do appreciate their approach to formal wear.

21 Responses to “Telling You Things”

  1. Anon May 11, 2011 at 2:29 pm #

    Brilliant. True and brilliant.

  2. Madame Suggia May 11, 2011 at 5:13 pm #

    I must respectfully tell you Ms Plumcake, that there are times and occasions when one is actually mentally, physically and emotionally incapable of asking for, seeking out or even receiving help, even when it is shoved somewhat rudely in one’s face.

    When one is well, lucid, and rational, (in other words, not depressed) it’s very simple to think, oh, I have a problem/issue/trauma to deal with, why I’ll just get right on that!

    When one is depressed (I don’t mean ‘down’ or ‘blue’ or ‘just not happy’ I mean full blown, I-wish-I-was-dead-but-I-can’t-summon-the-strength-to-kill-myself depressed) I can tell you, it ain’t that simple, and it certainly isn’t easy.

    Been there, done that, got the (100% silk jersey) T-shirt.

  3. Rubygirl May 11, 2011 at 5:22 pm #

    I love this:

    “I’m a Southern writer, we collect mental illness the way Yankees collect hard vowels and undeserved literary prizes”

    LOL.

    Mme. Suggia, I feel you. I, too, have the t-shirt. But I do know that it was dear friends telling me multiple times that “maybe you should get help”, that finally (FINALLY) got through the depressive fog. Maybe Plumcake’s tough love will be the thing that tips someone over into taking action at last–we can hope.

    Also, if depression isn’t the specific issue, tough love can work well. People live in denial; I sure did. If someone calls you on it, it can force you to examine your situation. My sympathies and e-hugs to all who are struggling with this. Ugh. My issues are well-managed now, but it took several years, medication, therapy, and continual self-care to make it so. And even then, it hovers around the edges.

  4. Thea May 11, 2011 at 6:09 pm #

    Mme Suggia, sometimes when you are so far down (and I have been) that you can’t do a damned thing – asking a friend to help with the heavy lifting can be a lifesaver.

    If you know your request will be met with kindness, respect and a determination to get you the help you need, it can be the difference between life and not.

    I think Miss Plumcake was offering to be that friend. I don’t need it now, but I’m tucking away the offer for future reference and I’m passing it along from myself to my friends.

    Thanks Plummy

  5. Madame Suggia May 11, 2011 at 7:01 pm #

    Rubygirl & Thea…sorry, I’m not explaining myself very well.

    I was trying to say that there are some instances when it’s simply beyond one’s abilities to either recognize the problem, or ask for help. You may as well expect a corpse to dance the tango.

    I was very very fortunate to have a caring husband and a good friend who literally made the appointment, physically put me in the car and drove me to the therapist. If I had been alone in this world during that time, I can say with confidence that I wouldn’t be here now.

    Depression sucks hard…I’m grateful to be back to my outstandingly fabulous self, but even though it’s been 6 years since my last episode, I’m always on the watch for it to rear its’ ugly head. And I have nothing but a ‘there but for the grace of God go I’ sympathy for anyone else with mental troubles.

  6. Madamina May 11, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

    Okay, Plummy et. al., here’s the thing:

    I have been in treatment for depression, anxiety, whatever for longer than I haven’t. I have ups and downs, but you know what? I’m pretty much doing great. Plus I’m lucky enough to know what I’m going through, so (at least with the people closest to me) I can say, “I’m having a crappy day and need to stay under the blanket for several more hours.”

    Others in my family, however, are not so fortunate. Like, say, my mom, who will ask intrusive questions about my therapy but apparently isn’t seeing anyone herself and clearly isn’t on the right meds. She’s going down, down, down, giving me flimsier excuses and stepping away from the things that used to mean something to her.

    We’ve had a rough relationship, and I can’t tell her what to do, but come on: she’s my MOM, and I want my kids to have a grandma instead of this papery shell of a person. I want to kick her and say, “When are you going to stop letting your depression do the talking?” Because hello, I’VE BEEN THERE.

    What do I do?

  7. B May 11, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

    Taking a pill IS that hard when the month’s supply of them costs $2000 and you have an income of $700.

    Taking a pill IS that hard when it makes you break out in a life-threatening rash.

    Taking a pill IS that hard when every. single. one. you have ever tried (virtually all, according to your doctor) has made you worse, not better.

    I’m sure you are referring to people in your life who may not have these problems, but it is wildly inappropriate to mock everyone who does.

  8. Anon May 11, 2011 at 9:13 pm #

    In defense of Plumcake — though I’m confident that she can hold her own on this — I don’t think the tone of this post was mocking or scolding at all. Nor was it intended as a quick-fix or wholesale cure-all (ahem) for depression. Rather, it’s addressed to those who either (a) make excuses for not seeking appropriate treatment or (b) are loath to try medication even when it is necessary and appropriate. Depression is often a perfect storm of environmental and biochemical factors. Approaching one set of contributors while neglecting the other can be tantamount to self-sabotage.

  9. AnonAnon May 12, 2011 at 6:19 am #

    I’ve been on both sides of the customer service counter when it comes to depression.

    When swimming while trying to get out from under the wet featherbed of GRIM, I can’t really remember the fear and frustration of watching someone unable to deal with one pill a day. Probably because I can’t remember feelings at all, just greyness as far back and forward as I can see.

    The benefits of acquired wisdom do not always transfer, which might be the suckiest part of a deeply sucking experience.

    Can’t say anything about other illnesses, but I can say that.

    Also, I can’t decide if the Southern writers/ Yankee writers jab is my favorite, or the locker room part. Decisions decisions.r

  10. megaera May 12, 2011 at 8:39 am #

    I’ve been dying to ask if you did apilado or open embrace tango, but I’m guessing that it was close embrace, huh?

  11. SarahDances May 12, 2011 at 9:26 am #

    Oof, I knew when I saw this post it would raise some hackles. For those of you who are taking this post as scolding from someone who hasn’t been there, I would redirect you to this post: http://manolobig.com/2009/05/26/a-departure-for-plumcake/

    Not that I’m saying everyone’s depression is the same, because that would be a monumentally ridiculous thing to say, but still.

    @B: If you are at the very least *trying* to get better, this post is NOT ABOUT YOU or whomever else you might be referring to who’s had those setbacks. As another of my favorite bloggers says, “If it isn’t about you, don’t make it about you.”

  12. Liz May 12, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    The principle behind what Plumcake is saying is sound, although the flippant comment about the dance instructor made me so mad that I had to walk away from the computer and come back, at which point I realised that she didn’t mean it in a mean way and it’s actually kinda funny.

    I don’t think she truly gets how hard it can be if you’re that down, and not thinking straight. Sometimes it’s not just mental health, it’s everything around it.

    From my perspective, I didn’t just have to tell my parents that I was fantasising about killing myself for 19-20 hours a day, all day, every day. I also had to explain that I had lost the ability to function and completely failed my year at college. They’re not well off and they’re paying my fees. Can you imagine the shame at that? For some people, it means admitting debt, or job loss, or even letting people see that they’ve gained huge amounts of weight.

    I had a depressive episode before that, and that time I was genuinely frightened of telling anyone because I was afraid that they would tell me that I was overreacting, or that we weren’t be as close as I’d thought we were and they didn’t care, or that it was my fault. It’s common for depressed people to isolate themselves, and there’s this irrational sense that if other people “let” you do that, they obviously don’t care.

    Also, I felt guilty when it came back, because godammit, things were meant to be better after that one time, and how can someone not have their life under control after all the support from the previous time?

    Again, I like the principle, and I’m much better now, but from reading this post alone, Plumcake doesn’t come accross as getting it. SarahDances, thank you for the other post, but I’m not a mind reader and if this was the only post I had (there’s no evidence of anything else apart from your link) I’d have her down as someone who has watched a loved one struggling with it, but never experienced it herself.

  13. Jophiel May 12, 2011 at 10:14 am #

    Plus, there’s the undeniable bad girl cachet. As my friend B says, “I don’t drink, I do DRUGS.”

    Thanks, Miss Plum.

  14. devon May 12, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

    B:
    I recognize those drugs. Bipolar/Schizophrenia variations are much harder to treat than Depression, and part of that is the tendency to go off meds once a person starts feeling better. It’s not the person; it’s the disease. I’m lucky (?) to be on Medicare and to have access to low-income options for medications, but I’m also unlucky that I can’t take any of the antipsychotics because of the side effects you mentioned.

    I find it much easier to reach out to people via email or IM, because then they don’t have to look at me and see how bad it is. If it helps me feel better, though, I will try and try to reach out.

  15. Liz May 12, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    Um, can I apologise for making my comment so long and breaking your comment policy? I got carried away and I’m sorry.

  16. AnthroK8 May 12, 2011 at 2:00 pm #

    A friend of mine’s boyfriend is in that place now. I am not really his friend, so I feel in that instance, my priority is my actual pal. And to her, I did point out, you can’t make it go faster or better, after a point. You can suggest and support and so on. But eventually, the person without the rudder will have to get one and sail the darned boat.

    Until then, that feeling of GET IT TOGETHER OH MY GOD can be read as lack of understanding and impatience. Which it can be. But it is also, I think, our impulse to life coming through. It is us, who are in a better mental place, trying to reach out not because the sick person is being a pain, but because the sick person has us SCARED. For their life, and happiness and well being and all those other things.

    It might not be a productive way, necessarily, but ultimately, it has at its heart the wish for people to be well.

    And, as I said to my friend, it’s also time to check in on yourself as a person involved and make sure YOU are taking the best care of yourself as you can. Because trying to sail someone else’s boat can be really hard on you, too.

  17. Aurumgirl May 12, 2011 at 2:28 pm #

    Seeing both Plumcake’s side here and the side of those with understandable reasons to avoid taking pills. I’d also like to add, with all due respect, that there is a great deal worse out there than cancer, and much of what is worse has to do with mental illnesses.

    People who are ill are not always well enough to make decisions which could bring them any benefit, or keep them out of harm’s way. In fact, I include that inability in my own definition of disease–symptoms of any disease can include behaviours someone simply isn’t able to restrain or control.

    I know people do mean well, I get that. But in our culture, we tend to associate the behaviours of those who are mentally ill with a lack of morality or lack of discipline and self control (and you can see this in the vast number of mentally ill patients who find themselves in prisons–in Canada, this is the place where most people with mental illnesses end up! Medieval, really). We expect those who are in no position to be rational to be completely logical, and rational. Disease, especially mental diseases, are hard for those who are well to understand: and it is also a fact that no matter how compliant a patient can be with treatment, the treatments we have available may still very likely fail. You can see that meds for these conditions are coming out all the time, and none of them come without serious problems and side effects, some more threatening than the actual disease.

    It’s just not as simple as it may appear to be.

  18. Cat May 12, 2011 at 2:40 pm #

    Could we refrain from playing the “this disease is worse than that disease” Olympics and just acknowledge that they all suck in their own ways? It’s not a contest.

  19. Margie May 12, 2011 at 3:30 pm #

    Speaking as a person who suffers from depression, thank you Liz and B for your comments. Depression effects people differently and it is never fair to simply say “it’s not that hard” or “if you need help, get help.” That is assuming that everyone has the mental and or physical ability to get help. It also makes it sound as though if you have not received help or will not receive help very soon, that you have failed as a human. It took me over 10 years to even realize that I suffered from depression. And because depression is so common now-a-days, many people around me, including friends and family, did not even notice I was depressed. As they put it, “I don’t know what is wrong with her, she is just in a funk and will snap out of it eventually.” I didn’t know I needed help. And then when I finally did seek help 5 years ago, I discovered that any medication I was prescribed made me feel worse. I was constantly having uncontrollable panic attacks while on the meds. Currently I do not take medication. I deal with it and wait it out. I am fortunate to have an understanding husband who is now aware of my “signs” and is able to help me till the depression passes.

    But thanks again B and Liz. Depression is easier said than done and again, it is never fair to assume that all cases can be treated the same way. I am not an overly emotional girl acting silly and throwing a temper-tantrum because the sun is too bright or my friend is too happy. I have depression. I am not some overly dramatic girl who lives in a house with all the curtains drawn, balled up on the couch in the dark, not able to speak- only cry and praying for God to kill me. I have depression.

  20. Kimks May 12, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

    Been on both sides of this particular coin- it sucks to be suffering and it sucks to watch a loved one suffer. All we can do is too consistently and constantly speak our truth and be kind. When you are at the bottom of the well, it is hard to know if that bucket is bringing you salvation or yet another dose of despair. If you are at the top of the well, the help you are sending can be construed as another bucket of crap, or a ray of hope.Keep the hope coming.

    Plummy- praying for you- its not easy.

    Peace.

  21. shiny May 15, 2011 at 9:42 pm #

    Late to the show, but still:

    Miss Plummy – I hear you. I come from a cultural and family background where you suck. it. up and move. on. That’s just the way it is.

    Except I couldn’t do it. It took a year (and a divorce) with a psychologist before I finally started on the happy pills. What a difference they made.