Sometimes what we need is a little perspective. When we are entrenched in our own circumstances (mine including depression, unemployment, anxiety, and hopelessness) it is difficult to see things objectively. We become trapped in our emotions, our ways of talking to ourselves and looking at situations.
This is when having a twin sister comes in handy.
In case I haven’t mentioned it before, no, my twin and I are not identical. We look very different and yet in some ways we are similar. We are creative, albeit with different focuses, we love reading, and, when we are together, we feed off of each others energy. We end up talking a million miles a minute, oftentimes very loudly. Fake punches and shouts of “I’m going to freaking kill you!” happen frequently as well.
Back to my point:
My twin, Becky, and I were at Barnes & Noble earlier. She was trying to transcribe some dictation for NaNoWriMo to meet her daily word count goal (I had already reached mine) and I was drawing a birthday doodle for one of my other sisters. At some point, I started explaining why being compared to my mom bothers me so much, apart from the cliché reason, of course. My mom, who has suffered with undiagnosed and untreated depression for years, has struggled over the years. While doing much better now, she still sometimes has problems with eating as well as with money, since she doesn’t have a job.
Lately, as a result of my depression and medication changes, I have had a really hard time eating. But her not wanting to eat pissed me off. Then I realized that me being pissed off at her for having trouble eating is hypocritical when I, myself, am having a hard time eating. Also, guess what? I don’t have a job. I’m struggling with money. The similarities are frustrating for me.
An important thing to realize when comparing ourselves to others, especially if we are frustrated by any similarities, is that we are not that person. No one person is the same as another person. Everyone is made up of something different. Every person has different goals, different motivations, different experiences, different thoughts. We need to remember that.
Becky gave me some perspective. She told me that structure might be important: waking up and going to sleep at the same time every day. This by itself almost made me cringe. The thought of being awake for a while day every day is scary, scary because it is very difficult to be awake for a long period of time when very little (if anything) makes you happy or captivates your attention. I mentioned that it was especially difficult because I don’t really have anything to fill my day. Her response: I should create a schedule on my calendar.
She didn’t push. She was really understanding. She was concerned with what would be best for me. After thinking for a few minutes I said, “Sure, maybe in an hour or so.” At the look on her face I rephrased: “Unless you want to help me with it now?”
She was super animated and excited to help, without being overeager or pushy. So, we sat down. She did the typing and just consulted with me as I looked over her shoulder. This is what we came up with:
It stresses me out a bit, seeing so much stuff on one day, but I am going to give it a solid effort starting Monday morning (or technically Sunday night I suppose). Considering I have been staying up until anywhere from 11:00pm to 4:30am during the last week and a half, this might be a bit difficult. But who knows, the structure will probably be really good for me. I just have to remember not to beat myself up if I don’t hit every single goal.
Sister’s Perspective Part 2
Much later in the evening, when we were up in the room we share at our grandma’s house, and suddenly I felt so angry and sad. I realized that even while I was laughing with my twin I was miserable. The laugh was in the moment but I felt like it didn’t reach either my eyes or my mind. I wanted to hit the wall, but I refrained from doing that since it might have ended up hurting my hand (in addition to the wall).
When I mentioned that I was miserable, my sister asked me if I knew what was causing it. At first I thought that I didn’t and, while that was partly true since I didn’t know what event or thought prompted this decline in mood, then I realized that part of it was my anger at feeling so miserable and depressed again (or still, perhaps). I almost started crying and wanted to hold it in. When she noticed it, Becky said, “Maybe you should just cry.”
I responded with, “No! It won’t help anything.”
“That’s not entirely true,” she said. “Crying can be an emotional release: cathartic, even. Maybe you should just let yourself feel.”
My reaction, while quiet, was incredibly strong. I said, “I don’t want to!” It really struck a chord with me when I said that because it was like an insta-reminder of right after my brother-in-law passed away in 2011. I was really close to him and wasn’t allowing myself to feel the sadness, anger, or grief and Becky said the same thing to me then: “I’m worried about you. You need to let yourself feel.”
My response back then: “I don’t want to! Damn it, Becky!”
My Major Depression was diagnosed soon thereafter. For a couple years I didn’t allow myself to feel a lot of emotions. That apathy and detachment was so horrible. Once I realized the parallel, I tried to allow myself to feel, even if just for a little bit, earlier tonight.
At one point I started to apologize. I felt like I was “ruining the day and the rest of her night” with my “negativity.” In the sweetest possible way she informed me that what I was talking about was not going to affect her. She just wanted to listen and be there for me. She was so sweet and amazing and held me and hugged me. At one point I said, “I’m so angry that this is happening…again.”
Her response made me laugh: “Yeah, it’s like you have a chronic illness … oh, wait! You do!”
She was so great and that response was so perfect. She validated my mental illness in a way that so many people in the world do not – she recognized my depression as an illness, raising it to the same level as a physical illness.
I love my sister … and her perspective. But I love her more.