Anxiety, Depression, and Panic Disorder

Hello everyone,

As usual, it’s been awhile, hasn’t it? I have some good updates, some great updates, and some not so great to bad updates. Let’s talk about the good first, shall we?

While I have not had much luck writing any fiction lately, fellow author Nathan Burgoine encouraged me to at least outline the stories I have in my head, so I need to do that. It’s a start, right?

However, I have had some luck publishing non-fiction! In February of this year, my first scholarly article, “The Four Faces of Motherhood: Caddy Compson as Mother in The Sound and the Fury” was published in the anthology A Portrait of the Lady in Modern American Literature edited by Dr. Aimee Pozorski by Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

I am also honored to co-edit an anthology of AIDS writing called Literary and Visual Representations of HIV/AIDS. Within the anthology will be one of my own essays, which was the basis for my thesis and the same paper I presented at NeMLA in 2017.

This past May I was honored several times over. My thesis, “The Evolution of AIDS Narratives: Borrowed Time, Body Counts, and The Nearness of Others” was completed and chosen as the URCARD Graduate award winner. I was honored to be selected out of all of the graduate students that had submitted. Not only that, but I was able to attend the American Literature Association Conference in San Francisco, and I was chosen to speak at the May commencement ceremonies on behalf of the graduate students.

I was terrified, but it was such an honor to speak in front of thousands of people!

So, I have finally graduated with my master’s degree! It was a long, hard five years, but I did it, and I completed my thesis in one semester! It was hard going and I wanted to cry – okay, I did cry – often, but I pushed through and got it done thanks to my adviser Dr. Pozorski and my second reader Dr. Mary Anne Nunn.

So those are some of the amazing things that has happened. I’ve also been working as a freelance editor and working on books for several authors and publishers. I can’t discuss more details than that as I’ve signed NDAs, but I love the work.

Now for the not so great news.

I’m going to be open about this, because I think it’s really important that most people speak up about this. I’ve been told to be silent, and for awhile I was, but I can’t do that anymore. After the recent death of Anthony Bourdain – a man whose shows and books I have enjoyed because of his honesty and blunt personality – I have come to see things that just ring so disingenuous to me, and I can’t let it pass anymore.

Now, I know many people grieve for celebrities because, even though we may not know them, we have a connection to them because of things they do that we admire or that impact us in some day. So it makes sense that we can mourn.

But what I hate are the hypocrites.

Let me explain.

I have been quite open on Facebook about my struggle with anxiety, depression, and panic disorder. I’ve talked about my struggles, my medication, and therapy. I’ve talked about my recent diagnosis at 33 of perimenopause and how it’s impacted my life. I’ve gotten to incredibly low points where, even though I don’t like to ask for help, I reached out and did. And I got “thoughts and prayers” or “thinking of you.” Or better yet, I got “Come out and meet me.”

If I can’t even get out of bed some days, how can you expect me to get out of my house, drive an hour for a cup of coffee in a public place for a few minutes, and then drive an hour home. Just thinking about that makes me exhausted.

Why don’t you come to us? Why do we have to go out to see you when we are struggling so hard to just exist? Is it because you really don’t want to see us and you know we can’t go out, that we’ll turn it down? Because that’s a really shitty thing to do.

But back to Anthony Bourdain. I was told by family members – yes, family members – to stop talking about my struggles with anxiety and depression. I was accused of doing it for the attention, and to “get over it because everyone goes through it.” And now those SAME. PEOPLE. are writing about Bourdain and encouraging people with depression and anxiety to reach out and talk about it. THE. SAME. PEOPLE.

I don’t get it. Do they not understand the hypocrisy of this? Is it because it happened to a famous person and family doesn’t matter? Are they just saying words like everyone else?

The sad thing is, these people won’t even realize they’ve done it and how badly they’ve hurt me. It’s like my life doesn’t matter, but a famous person does.

These things need to stop. People who are depressed need support, especially from family. When we have gotten to the point of reaching out for help, we are desperate for it. Many of us don’t like to ask for help because we don’t want to be a burden on others, and yet when we do reach out, we often feel like we are a burden because instead of tangible support we get words of platitude. It might make the person giving them feel better, but honestly? It’s meaningless. To us it signals that you don’t care.

Now, I know there are some friends who are long distance who can’t physically be there. I get that. And those friends do what they can. They message support, call, text, send funny videos, memes, etc.

But what about the people that live down the road or the next town over? Nothing. I’ve come to realize that I don’t have as many friends as I thought I did. That I don’t matter to a lot of people. And that hurts, because I would – and have when I was feeling well – drop everything for friends to help them out. But that doesn’t extend towards me.

If you’re reading this, please, help that person in your life. If someone you know suffers depression and they have dropped off the radar, contact them. Call. Text. Show up at their house. I might say “no, don’t come over,” but if someone were to show up and just sit and watch The Office with me in silence, I would be so happy. We don’t even have to talk. Just sit with me. Bring snacks if you want or don’t. Whatever. Just BE there for me. For us. For your friends who are struggling to make it through another day.