Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Complete honesty is not always the best policy ...

I’ve had a hard couple of days.

I’m constantly battling exhaustion and trying to lead a productive life during this treatment. The battle tends to lend itself to irrational bouts of depression. The medication contributes to depression, which is why I’m on a fairly low dosage of anti-depressants, which have kept me out of the deepest pits of blackness during the past four months, but daily situational stuff also contributes.

This weekend my new roommate moved in. She and her mother drove out from Alabama to get her settled. I imagine her mother also wanted to make sure that I wasn’t an axe murderer, which I totally don’t blame her for.

In the three weeks prior to their arrival, I got all of my stuff out of what used to be my office, but which became her room, and painted it. Then I cleaned like a madman for three days because in the manual it says that when somebody’s mother is visiting, you clean. All in all, this took me about 3 weeks. I would work a bit, rest, work, rest, work, rest, ad nauseum, which strikes me as both necessary and pathetic.

Don't get me wrong, I’m very happy that she is moved in. She’s a wonderful lady, a talented artist and a good friend. She and her mother did an amazing job of decorating her room. Hell, it’s the nicest room in the house now. It’s so nice, I feel like I wanna throw rocks at the rest of my house. I guess I just gotta get off my ass, and get the rest of it painted. More work, rest, work, rest, work, rest, ad nauseum.

Back to the point. Lots of anticipation and changes (never mind that they are positive) and spotty sleep cycles have put me into a bit of a downward funk, and I am again faced with how much to share with other people about my general well-being.

I always think that the standard is my step-mother. She has literally walked around with a broken arm, taken a couple of Advil, and not said a word about how much it hurts. She finally went to the ER when I ordered her to get her ass into the truck and have my dad take her for an x-ray. She is and always has been strong and stoic, and the very definition of stiff upper lip, except when she’s really pissed off.

So, on one hand I think I should just get through all of this, don’t mention anything about it to anybody, and just say, "Everything is great!" Strong and stoic wins the day.

On the other hand, there are people that care, and honestly, I’m not doing many of the things that I normally do, and explanations need to be made to some people.

Unfortunately, there is also this pressure inside of me that builds and builds when I get really tired and emotional, and I find myself unable to hold it in anymore, and somebody will either see me crying at my desk, or some offhand joke that I make to cover all the inner turmoil will be seen by an observant friend as a cover, and bring it to my attention, and I feel embarrassed, weak and like a failure.

This is going to sound crazy, but I feel like I’m not a particularly capable or strong man. This issue is compounded now because four days out of five, I’ve had to go home and collapse onto the couch from exhaustion.

My father asks me all the time how I’m doing, and I always tell him I’m doing fine, just a bit tired. He’s got enough going on in his life and with his own health that he doesn’t need to deal with my daily ups and downs, plus he gets frightened that he’s going to lose me, and I have enough trouble dealing with my own fear at the moment.

Several friends have told me that I can reach out to them if I need somebody to talk to or commiserate with, and they are absolutely sincere and I very much appreciate the offer. However, with the exception of a couple of people, I’ve never felt comfortable calling up somebody and telling them that I feel bad. I guess it is because I’m fearful of being judged, thought of as being weak or a drama queen. Plus, there’s that whole "man" thing. Men don’t express their feelings, they shuffle along, do their job, and let the rest of it go undealt with.  Right?

The crazy thing is that in my head, I’ve got all this crap going on, and the part of me that doesn’t like the other part of me, judges the crap constantly. Let me tell you, it can really wear one down.

I must say that I find it interesting that many of those people who say to call them if I need something, haven’t called or e-mailed to check on me even once since this whole thing began. I guess this is when one learns who really is a friend, or merely an acquaintance.

As I’m looking at all this, I guess the "answer" if there is one, is that I need to understand who is in the trenches with me, judiciously pick when to share the deep crap so that nobody becomes burdened by it, and to everybody else, just say, "I’m doing great, thank you for asking."

The truth is, the only person who is really in my head and sees the totality of my daily mishegoss is myself. Everybody else just gets the edited version, and that’s just the way life and the world are.

Maybe that's the way it should be, too.

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