Triggered by Elvis

I shouldn’t watch Hoarders. It’s one of those reality shows that preys on people with issues, and I know that.Elvis has left the building But I also feel like I connect with them. I’ve watched enough episodes, I know that I’m not actually a hoarder, but I definitely share their mindset.

“I can’t get rid of this because I’m going to use it…”
“I can’t get rid of this because I’m going to use it…”
“I can’t get rid of this because I’m going to use it…”

“When?”

And there’s no answer. They don’t know when they’re going to use it, but someday…

I’m with them. I have too many things for a someday that hasn’t come, and so I’ve started clearing some stuff out. That’s a good thing, right?

Until I saw the episode with Elvis.

It wasn’t actually Elvis, of course. He’s in hiding.

No, it was an Elvis impersonator who had begun hoarding when his career took a bit of a dive. He’d lost his job as a PE teacher, and his impersonation days had gone from big shows that got media coverage to working bars and private events, earning just enough money to get by.

His family appeared in their little talking to the screen segment: they called him lazy. They said that he was a loser because he hadn’t gotten his Master’s degree on time, which is why he’d lost his teaching job. They said that all his problems were his all fault.

The show continued, and Elvis appeared.

He was freaking out. He paced back and forth in front of his non-working refrigerator. He literally wrung his hands. “I haven’t done anything this morning. I haven’t done enough. I haven’t accomplished anything. They’re going to be so disappointed. Why didn’t I do more? They’re going to judge me. I just…I just can’t decide. What should I do? I can’t make any decisions.”

I freaked out.

I had been there. I got his feels like I was with him. I yelled at the TV – “Get him help! He needs help! It’s depression! Where the hell is the psychologist? Where the hell are his meds?”

He was obviously too far gone to get help on his own. He was paralyzed by his depression; he couldn’t clear his place; he couldn’t function.

I was shaking. I had to stop putting together the bookcase with my husband and get up and pace.

Elvis needed some serious outpatient care or some good inpatient care. He needed, and deserved, better than to be paraded on TV as a source or entertainment. He didn’t need his family to call him lazy, to trash-talk him, to put him down. He needed them to get him help, and maybe even get him committed, until he learned how to function again.

I stopped the episode, probably further in than I should have, and calmed myself down.

That night, I had a nightmare about being committed against my will and not being able to get out. I jumped through hoops to prove that I could leave, but each time, when I’d get close to leaving, I’d be mistaken for someone else or “they” would decide that I had problems I didn’t think I had, and I’d be signed back in.

Now, if I was the type to analyze my dreams (which I am), I’d say that was my acknowledgment that, no matter what, I’ll never be free from depression or anxiety. And while I might manage my symptoms through therapy and drugs, I’ll always have a little Elvis in me.  

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Getting coffee when you need coffee is like getting medication when you need medication

A cappuccino in a black mug with an happy face design made with coffee.This weekend, I went to an Abilities Fair in my son’s school district. It began at 9 a.m. Nine a.m. on a Saturday morning. I was going to man a table for the Parent Support Group until noon, and then I’d be on a panel about communicating positively with the school. Sounds good, right?

Except that I am not a morning person. Really, really not a morning person.

I got about half-way to the high school where it was being hosted before I realized the problem.

I was so tired and so not geared up for the morning that I forgot to stop and get coffee.

Even though I knew it meant that I’d be there on time instead of early, I turned around and went to Starbucks. Because, you know, coffee.

And it was as I was driving the drive of shame to Starbucks that I realized the similarities between my need for coffee and my need for medication when my depression hits.

Here’s the thing: when I get depressed, I don’t have the energy to get medication. I don’t have the urge to get medication. I don’t care enough to get medication. I just want to curl up in bed and pretend that the rest of the world doesn’t exist, or sometimes worse, pretend it does exist but it’s all out to get me and show me how horrible I am in my own life and how much I fail at everything I try.

I’m lucky, though.

When I need medication, I have someone who will suggest I call in to my psychiatrist. And, if I don’t feel the ability or need to call in myself, he will then call in for me and leave a message. When the psych calls me back, I can generally pull myself together enough to state that I’m not able to get out of bed, and suddenly my meds are adjusted, and soon enough, I’m mostly moving again.

And I’m lucky, though, because the same person will get me coffee when I can’t function enough without coffee to get coffee.

But I still can’t help but think about the problem with needing coffee to get coffee and needing medication to get medication.