Tuesday, April 27, 2010
The other day, thinking about how completely and utterly terrified I was as a kid -- constantly afraid that my parents would die; afraid that I'd get anything lower than an A, which would make me a failure; afraid of parties because I was so awkward socially; afraid to tell anyone I was afraid, because I had to keep my mother from worrying about me more than she already did and because my father needed me to be all right so he'd be all right -- I realize that I had a huge, honking case of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, with some Social Phobia and OCD (I went on a handwashing binge in grade school) and a large dollop of Separation Anxiety thrown in for good measure.
Is that sentence long enough?
Untreated anxiety commonly turns into depression; the two are close siblings anyway. For years now, various professionals of the shrink persuasion have been exhorting me to express my anger, which they've assumed to be at the base of the depression. A few times, I've said, "Y'know, I don't think it was ever anger. It was fear." Nobody picked up on that clue, not even me.
In one sense, this doesn't matter. Treatments for anxiety and depression are very similar, and when I was a kid, nothing much was available for either, anyway. But it blows my mind to realize that there was this huge thing happening that nobody recognized. The week before the funeral, my sister told me that when I was three or four, my mother was afraid I was psychotic because I had such lively conversations with my imaginary friends Stick, Bracelet, and Susie. She had me evaluated by a psychiatrist, who said I was fine and would come out of it. That person didn't even pick up on the fear, although a) he might not have been looking for it and b) I probably wouldn't have admitted it to anyone, even then.
But jeez. Poor little Susan, so scared all the time, and so stubbornly and nobly and ass-backwardsly keeping it a secret to try to protect everybody else! (My parents would certainly have done everything in their power to help me if they'd known.) I just want to go back, give her a hug, and tell her everything will really be all right, you know?