I was sitting in the passengers seat of a 12 passenger van. My boss was driving. We had been talking but had both fallen silent as we prepared our minds for the 13 hour day ahead of us.
Suddenly he speaks up with more transparency than I had expected from a man, a boss, my senior.
“I don’t know how to say this other than to just come out and say it,” he began. “But sometimes I get car anxiety? And I’ve got that right now so pardon if I just… talk to you about it a bit.”
I felt like rejoicing in that moment. Not because of his discomfort, for sure, but because I know how to handle this situation. I get it. I totally get it. I have anxiety too! I understand panic attacks and I know how to work through it! I’m on medicine that severs my overactive brain connections and steadies my breathing. I! Get! It!
Because I get it, I didn’t say any of these things until the moment was passed. He needed to talk. He needed me to listen. I asked leading questions and kept him talking for the last two miles of the drive. And after his feet were firmly on the ground, and after he had thanked me for listening, was when I shared my experiences in turn.
It’s okay, I tried to convey. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. I get it.
I have two very dear friends with whom I can be fully open about mental health. They get it too; different struggles within our same biology. They taught me how freeing it was to be open about mental health; how essential it was for improvement and healing.
Unfortunately, they’re not around as much. And double unfortunately, people don’t want to hear about my brain.
My dumb brain.
Talking about mental health makes most people deeply uncomfortable. They do not know how to respond, or they have been raised to not discuss such things, or they just flat out don’t believe that a person’s brain could really behave that way.
Just get over it. Just calm down. Exercise. Eat right. Sleep.
The only thing that’s really helped me at all with anxiety or depression has been being honest with people. Truly, brutally honest, down to how many pills I take, what they’re for, how I got the scars on my thighs, how many times I’ve thought about dying.
But today, I’m sitting at work and struggling. Today, nobody wants to hear about my issues. I know, because I’ve tried to explain and it has fallen on unresponsive ears.
So let me tell you about my dumb brain.
Because of depression, I don’t really care about my body the way I should. I didn’t care that my insurance card was out of date on Thursday when I went to pick up my medication refill. I didn’t care that I ran out of said medicine on Wednesday. I didn’t even care when my anxiety swelled on Saturday and my chest constricted; it made me better at my part time job–more effective and more sharp.
Because I didn’t care for my body, it’s now Monday and I am in FULL withdrawal mode. I’ve been taking this medicine for 1.5 years. it’s in my system. It’s in my brain. Today my brain has been misfiring; zapping electric currents in the form of nightmares and waves of nausea in between hours of fuzziness. Brain static.
Today my body is crying for help; and as I sit at my desk, accomplishing nothing of value, I’m kicking myself for my lack of caring. I can barely stand without falling over. Can barely turn my head without a wave of nausea striking my every nerve.
Fuck, man. My brain is dumb. And all I really need is for someone to say, “I get it. I understand. Tell me how I can help you. My brain is dumb too.”