Bonus Round Patient Pages
Encouraging patient/doctor/caregiver communications


Tuesday, May 11, 1999: Unburdening.


Dear Sparky,

(As I started to write this letter I was listening to "Shiny Happy People" and now, of course, I'm listening to "Everybody Hurts" on repeat because I do not feel like a shiny happy person...)

I was talking to Karen today and in the middle of the conversation I had to disappear because of "family problems" and when I got back she asked what was going on and I told her. I told her about the outcome of the lawsuit and the fact that it means we are next to broke, I told her that my Mom was being pressured by her principal to change grade levels and that instead of just going with it Mom was fighting her and dragging the Superintendent into it... I told her about my Dad's gambling problem.

Then half-way through this tirade she started asking me questions about it all and asking me if I minded talking about it. I told her that I didn't mind and proceeded to answer her questions and then half-way through the answers I realized that I DID mind. I realized that I cannot type out all of these problems and sit and stare at them in their contrasting black and white colors and still manage to feel okay about my life.

Karen could tell I was losing it and she was telling me how she wished that I had told her about all of this sooner and that she's my friend and that I can *go* to her with these things and I know that, of course I know that. Except she seems to have forgotten that I don't tell people my problems... ever. The only time I tell people my problems is when I'm tired and I don't care enough to lie and say things are fine.

Besides, I try to be the good friend and listen to everyone else talk about their own problems while I sit and stew about my own. Today I had to listen to one friend (an at-home friend) talk about how she flunked a math test and that it was the end of the world--I wanted to yell and scream back at her that she didn't know how LUCKY she was that her only problem was a failed math test. I wanted to type angry words about how we owe over 20,000 dollars to my Aunt, about how I tried to comfort my Mom today and when I asked her what would make her feel better she said slitting her wrists and disappearing (before people freak--she was kidding...), I wanted to scream that my Dad threatened to leave us a month ago and that a month before THAT my Mom threatened to leave us... I wanted to make my friend understand what PROBLEMS meant.

The worst part is that my health is slipping yet again... my disease is aggravated by stress and that above paragraph was nothing BUT stress so it's understandable that I'm becoming sick again.

What I hate most about all of this is that I'm hiding it all from everyone--not just from Karen and not just from my other friends but from EVERYONE. For some reason I think that I can handle this all on my own even though experience has taught me that I can't.

The frightening part is that I've only touched the tip of the iceberg... in actuality my problems are far bleaker and far larger than I'm painting them to be.

I'm also having a lot of trouble writing this letter, in the middle of a sentence I'll suddenly stop writing and I'll listen to Michael Stipe and I'll try to make myself feel better. It's not working. I feel like curling up into a ball and crying for hours and hours and hours. I feel like screaming and yelling and throwing things at walls, delighting in the smashing noises they make upon impact.

Instead of doing any of that I'm just sitting here, writing this letter and pretending that I'm one of my fictional characters and all of the above is as immaterial as dreams.

Okay, I can't write anymore. I just can't. I can't sit here and write out all of these problems, I can't see them in this stupid little box in black Arial letters and a boring white background. I told Karen earlier that I just couldn't deal with this right now and I can't. I've been on the internet so long that I keep forgetting that the little IM boxes and the little email boxes are actually from people--I am actually a person. This isn't the story of some fictional girl, this isn't just a bunch of words on your computer screen--this is my life and these are my problems.

I am a real person and I am really hurting...


After I wrote the above letter I realized that I was on the precipice of a potentially devasting emotional breakdown. So I grabbed my copy of Franny and Zooey and took a scalding hot bubble bath.

I now feel much better. The water in the bath was so hot that I could actually feel the blood pulsating in my veins--that reminded me how lucky I am to be alive... which made me happy. Granted, all of my problems are relatively serious and certainly not easy to deal with--but I've been through worse and I'm still here only a little worse from the wear.

I also realized that I have very little margin of complaint--I found myself thinking of this letter. I've had hundreds of moments like that with not just famous people but people I've admired my whole life. Those moments don't take away the fact that I still feel very overwhelmed by everything, but they do a lot to eleviate my depression.

It might be a while before things get significantly better... but at least I know that I can deal with it and find happiness somewhere.

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