How About a Pat On The Back? Why Aren’t Others Acknowledging My Progress?

Does this picture really need a caption?

Ok, so I know I’m really bad at “anger” – especially when it comes to emoting. But, I have to say I’m really frustrated and maybe even a little peeved right now.

So I have had the fortune to have my chemical depression lifted for the past few months. In that time, I have reached out to old friends, gotten an apartment, made appointments, attended those appointments, made plans and came through on those plans, and have tried to be more active and engaged. (All things I have never really done well while depressed, i.e. most of my life.)

My family has made some comments that are positive – letting me know that they’re happy for me and proud of me and the work I’m doing. I suppose they know it the most since they have seen me at my very worst and supported me through it all. And I appreciate that they can see a difference. I guess my dad told my mom it was really nice to see me smile again. That made me smile…again.

Obviously things aren’t perfect. I still have to work really hard at living every day. I usually wake up petrified that the feeling will come back. Then I get anxious that even if I don’t feel it, I will somehow fail to utilize this opportunity of feeling better to the best of my ability this day. What if I don’t get out of the house? What if I don’t accomplish something? What if I don’t move forward? I’m dealing with how to know when I’m ready to move forward and how I might do that or what it might look like. I am anxious, worried, and slightly depressed at both the work I have to do and the fear that it won’t be enough. On top of that, other issues have come to light – many of which are similar to the ones I had when depressed: Do I deserve to live? Does my life add value to this world? Will I ever feel I deserve my life? Will I ever have a life I can look at and feel proud and content with? Will I ever find peace with myself and within myself?

So, yeah, I’m dealing with that, but I’m still making it to places on time, doing things alone, returning phone calls, making big plans, and trying to remain engaged and helpful. And besides some of my family members, no one has said shit. I’m not talking about the guy at the YMCA I am finally able to make eye contact with. I’m talking about the people in my life who know about the depression, about the ECT, about leaving DC, about living at home, my self-harming, my suicidal ideation. I don’t know what I was expecting but I guess with all this fear about what I’m doing and how I’m doing, I would like a “wow, you really seem different” or “it’s nice to have you like this.” Only one or two have even asked why things have changed or what this “change” means, but others just keep talking to me. Maybe they’re trying to make me feel normal? Or maybe I’m making excuses for them.

And I wonder, after all the grief I put upon myself about being a shitty friend and person, does anyone notice the change? As I’m writing this, I’m feeling a little selfish because I’m basically asking “why is no one noticing me and praising me?” and I guess that’s a little cocky. But fuck, it’s not just medicine. I mean, thank goodness it’s working, but I’m fucking working too. Hard. Every fucking day. And I get tired and scared and want to stop. But I usually pull myself back up. And I’m doing a lot of it for them – at least at this point. To stop being the burden. To add value and be a fun and dependable friend they can trust and can enjoy. Maybe they felt that way when I was depressed, and I do appreciate that they stood by me and remained friends with me no matter how shitty I was. I love them so much for that. Maybe that’s why it hurts that they haven’t said anything. Because I love them and I just want them to be excited for me and for our friendships.

Or maybe, they’re just worried about the boy that cried wolf – not holding their breath given that this might be like all the other times I felt better – and then got worse. Trepidation I suppose I understand – I’m feeling the same way – but you could still say something. I don’t know why it’s important but I think I want them to feel pride and happiness for me and our future friendship.

I just wish someone besides my family and therapist would acknowledge that they are not only happy for me, but happy to be with me as me, on what will hopefully be an exciting journey that will last for years to come. Like maybe “Damn Ava, you seem to be in such a better place. It’s nice to hear from you and hear about all the things you are doing and thinking of doing.” Or: “I’m so happy for you. How does it feel? What do you think it means?” Is that too much to ask? Am I being selfish?