*warning, this is one of those “Sam gives details about her mental health”, so there may be triggers for some. Others may get the willies when reading this… TOUGH, discussing mental health is important and you need to get over your hang-ups*
In a few short hours I’ll be putting on a dress and make-up for the second time in a week. Those that see me in person a lot will know I live in leggings and nerdy t-shirts. It’s comfortable and I’m too damn old to really give you-know-whats about uncomfortable fashion. It also makes me not appear “adult” (insert shrug emoji). BUT when I do go out and represent the store I do so in more “acceptable” options. BUT that is not what this is about… someday we can do a “Sam why do you where leggings when you are 45 blog”. Today is about the pure fact that I AM going out and representing the store…something that was near impossible a year ago… and THAT is what this is about – I’m back in the saddle and it’s starting to feel good again.
A year ago I was in what we called a “funk”. It took everything I had to leave the house, when I came home I was mentally exhausted. I didn’t want to see or talk to anyone… ANYONE. It slowly got “better”, but I checked out of the store. I did enough to skate by and Todd picked up a lot of my slack. I got my groove back for a month or so around my trip to the Game Retailers conference. Then I tanked again.
Anyway, after withdrawing from work and life several more times throughout the year, as I’ve said before, I got help. (WARNING- here is where I get REALLY personal). I was diagnosed with “Massive Depressive Episode Disorder“… and we pin-pointed at least 2 in 2017, probably 3. In addition I suffer from Anxiety. Both are triggered in some way by my excessive low-self esteem.
On a side note, if there is someone in your life that disappears or just doesn’t seem to want to be around doing things… don’t YOU disappear as well. They need you when they come out of the episode, if you can’t be there during it. I say this because I know I am a horrible friend (see above serious self-esteem issues above), but now that I know some of why I do what I do (shut up brain!), I’m making an effort. I ❤ those that have stuck with me last year… even if they didn’t notice anything wrong. My therapist and I right now are focusing on the self-esteem issues and friendships. While that may seem like something that isn’t healing a mental illness, imagine going through life thinking that there is no reason anyone, not even your own family, should or could actually like you for an extended period of time. That is NOT “normal”. It only took me 44 years to figure that out. The brain lies to those that have mental health issues.
All of these make me being out in public a trial, being out in public representing our store (the thing that feeds our family) less so… because after doing theatre for 20 years “bookshop owner Sam” is a character I play. The people who come to the shop or events where I’m in character have no clue what real Sam is like.. and that’s been a cushion for me, a protective skin, my armor.
So anyway…. last week I went to NYC for the day and met with 2 dozen publishing publicists. Yes I panicked that morning about how stupid and fat and ugly and old I looked.. but once I got there I did my job. I told the brain to shut up and adulting the fudge out of the day. Tonight is our first big event of 2018, one that I helped coordinate after not doing any events or management for a year. I’m stepping back into this part of my life again. And while I’m stressed that tonight go well, it’s not compounded by the brain (at least not right now), and I’m going to put on the “Bookstore Sam” costume and act… BUT if someone says they haven’t seen me in a long time or some such, I will tell the truth.
Now, knowing there IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ME other than I have an illness in my brain, I’m going to be more open. Yes, I haven’t been in the shop much… you know why? Because I have a mental illness that took over my well-being in 2017. I am now under medical care. Just like someone with diabetes meeting with a nutritionist. Just like someone with joint pain sees a physical therapist. There is nothing to be ashamed of. It is an ILLNESS and seeing professionals for help is perfectly normal.