Isn’t that a saying somewhere? Yesterday, on Facebook, it posted a memory of the photo I shared on 8/29/14 which was to celebrate my nephew’s first birthday. Just 5 days prior to that I became his godmother at his christening. That day 4 years ago was also the day I made one of my worst possible decisions. Actually, to be fair, I had made the same bad decision on several occasions prior to 8/29. 8/29 was just the day I got caught. I believe that night and ensuing days were the lowest point of my life. And that’s saying something because all those poor decisions were in response to what I already thought had been the worst day of my life.

I was recently told that I seem to always be holding something back. Odd thing to say for someone who blogs and facebooks ALOT. But he was definitely picking up on something very real and true. He was able to describe it as something along the lines of working very hard to prove how strong I am….so much so that I am keeping things to myself and not opening up fully.

Yep. That’s actually dead on. You see, my loved ones have to worry about me a lot. I have depression so people automatically assume that means you I am always one bad day away from killing myself. Once or twice but not always. Then, I survived a bombing so having PTSD was a public thing I couldn’t hide. Therefore, everyone assumes I am one trigger away from erratic or violent behavior. Not necessarily violent, but yes, a little harder to control my reactions in scenarios challenging my control or revealing my complete lack of it. I followed that with some binge drinking. Am I an alcoholic? Not really. But my grandparents and uncle were so it’s assumed I am. I certainly did more binge drinking 4 and 5 years ago. Now, it only happens on a night when I know I don’t have to drive. I let loose because I can. But it’s not often at all. Even still, every beer I drink I feel like someone is watching me and taking mental notes.

To explain why he was picking up on this vibe I had to tell him about how I work very hard to display that I am ok no matter what….even when I’m not. I hate the idea of anyone worrying about me and it embarrasses me to think people are “going there” in their heads or in conversations behind my back because they think the worst is about to happen. In fairness, I completely understand why they think that way and why they worry. It’s the exaggerations of mental illness they see on tv and movies mixed in with a little reckless behavior I have truly acted out.

Sometimes there really is nothing to worry about. Believe it or not, I’m quite a happy drinker. Even when I was doing it to numb my anxiety and survivor’s guilt, I was able to elevate my mood to fun and light the more I drank. I was able to escape my pain to some extent. It wasn’t like I had my head on the bar, crying and talking about dead people. When I got caught that happened, but never until then.

My depression is medicated. I see a doctor every 2 weeks. I have bad days like everyone else but I tend to also pull out of them. Regardless of all my mental illnesses, I am predisposed to problem solving by nature so I can’t even do the typical cartoon depiction of depression where you see someone who can’t get out of bed. I can get out of bed and still be very depressed. I am just high functioning and power through it by over scheduling myself to stay busy until it passes.

But there are times people should worry, I guess. I don’t really know when and I will never ever tell you because your worry actually escalates my anxiety. It’s what has drawn me to the life and death of Anthony Bourdain. I cling to every article I read, every episode of every show. I am looking for the signs and wondering what people missed. Could anyone have known? And if they couldn’t have, what does that mean for me knowing I am never immune from having a split from reality like that? Like fat people worry about heart attacks, I worry my brain will turn against me even on medication. It has before. And I didn’t tell you.

Granted, I watch Bourdain and see it very, very, very clearly. At first I wonder how his loved ones missed it. But then I remember, he probably made them miss it….same way I do when I am holding back. I know the tumult in my mind but I don’t want to worry anyone. I want to suffer in silence and I want to resolve it in silence. For him, he probably had resolved to killing himself days before he actually did it. They say when people do that they are actually appearing incredibly peaceful and, to others, in better spirits than usual. That’s because they have made a decision and that’s what has brought them calm. Not an actual resolution in their mental health. They also say people who talk more openly about suicidal thoughts and the complications of mental illness do stand a better chance of survival. So I do that sparsely…mostly with the shrink. But do I also have Bourdain capabilities? The answer to that frightens me.

So yes. I work especially hard to convince you I am much stronger and more resolute sometimes than I am so that you can relax. It also helps manage my anxiety….something else which happens right in front of you which you don’t see. You have been trained to look for hysterics and the need to breathe in a paper bag. Sometimes I struggle to breath but it sounds like my asthma. Other than that, I can be sitting in front of you watching tv or in a meeting while my heart rate is on the rise and my brain is cycling excessive thoughts while my stomach registers doom. That is an anxiety attack and you don’t know about it at all. My last one lasted over 48 hours and no one noticed.

I am always holding back. You just don’t know because you think I am an exhibitionist putting so much on display via social media. There is SO much you don’t hear or see because I don’t want to worry you and because I know, in all honesty, I can never promise you I will always be ok. That’s an “unknowable” for me and everyone with mental illness….just like you can’t guarantee you won’t have another heart attack once you’ve had one. You can eat healthy and exercise….show everyone you have changed your lifestyle but that really guarantees nothing. It just helps everyone worry a little less.

Upon my nephews’s 5th birthday, I like to celebrate that I am 4 years separated from the worst night of my life. But that’s naive. There is no guarantee it or something like it wouldn’t happen again. I can’t control what that addled mess inside my skull decides to do with its errant neurotransmitters and broken synapses which trap serotonin and norepinephrine ( yep, both chemicals are busted in me) and prevent them from cycling through properly. And I can’t change that I either don’t want to tell you about it or I can’t mentally recognize it on my own to know to tell you about it. That’s why all those posts telling people like us to ask for help are selfishly ignorant. You know as well as I do I can’t ask for help when my brain turns inside out. You just sleep better thinking you have done your part. But you actually have to have the balls to help me and do it in such a way where I don’t feel shamed. Not an easy task at all. But I know 2 people who have been able to do it for me which gives me a little hope. They don’t look at me as fragile every day. They just have their eyes open enough to recognize the very precise and rare moments I am straddling the edge on tip toes.