Why I Even Opened My Mouth

Agoraphobe Meets Mountain I’ve told you about my particular anxiety disorder, my decision to go on medication, a bit about the side effects of said medication, and how that wasn’t the end of what I needed to do to get healthier.

Even now, multiple years after those events, I’m still not done. I’m still actively working. I’m sure I’ll be a project until I shuffle off my mortal coil.

But I wanted to talk about one last thing. I wanted to tell you why I even opened my mouth about this at all.

It’s a difficult decision. Partly for all the usual reasons–I am, despite what one might think reading my blog, a pretty private person, and there’s also the fact that a series of posts like this can be blood in the water for stalkers or people who might not necessarily want to offer support. Besides, there is a huge social stigma around any sort of mental disorder, as well as a toxic set of assumptions about anyone who admits to having to take meds. Of those reasons, the blood in the water was the biggest one on the side of refraining.

There’s also the fact that my story is very common, and I have not made art of it the way some other people have. My struggles are mild in comparison. I stay silent about a number of issues stemming from my childhood for my own reasons, and I think they’re good reasons. Also, fear. Just plain, simple fear. Not the kind that I can grab and force into a story to make it manageable. Not the kind that fuels a book. Just a creeping, cringing, terrible fear.

Balanced against all that were the reasons to speak.

* I felt it was time, for my own health. To face my own fear. Selfish, but true.

* I’m not going to lie: part of it was a dare to those who smell blood in the water. It’s been educational and interesting to see them come out of the woodwork. It’s been healing to not respond, or to put my barriers up, and to realize that I have a right to speak even though some would prefer I keep silent. To speak or not is my choice, and I am going to make it myself. And only by myself.

* I’ve read, in the past few months, some searing, honest, and marvelous things from people who struggle with similar (albeit much larger) issues. In particular, Allie Brosh speaking about her depression helped me to feel much, much less alone and freakish. This is my way of passing that help on.

* Because–and this is the biggest reason–I desperately hope that someone, somewhere, will feel less alone reading these posts. If even just one person might feel slightly less alone, slightly less isolated, slightly less of a freak or an alien as a result of me speaking publicly about having to take meds, or about what led up to that and how I made my decision, or even just that I wanted to reach out…then every single instant of pain was worth it, because it led me to a place where I could have a chance of hopefully ameliorating someone else’s agony.

Again and again I come to the place of simply holding the line and hoping. The older I get, the more I think that’s the point of life, and the only thing that truly survives anyone’s brief tenure on this rock hurtling through space. The ripple effect, as it were, from being as decent as you can on a day-to-day basis, shouting into the void and holding the line even if you fear nobody will grab it. The act of holding is important.

And so, I continue.

Thanks for listening.

  • martian moon crab

    You have guts, thats for sure. Proud of you.

  • Steven

    Lillith: Thank you so much for your bravery in sharing your struggles with depression and medication, and therapy. I have always enjoyed your wordcraft in your fiction, and it is interesting to see it in a biographical, non-fictional way. I have struggled with depression for most if not all my life, and have had some limited success with medication…which is to say that it was a temporary tool that helped me out of a deep, dark place, and then I had to discontinue it due to side effects. But, again, thank you for sharing, I know, logically, that I am not alone, but it is comforting to read it, to have it confirmed, to have another human being tell me that it’s okay, that there is hope, and tomorrow is work sticking around for. Peace, blessings and regards…

    .Steven.

  • “Each time we let go of something, we experience another level of freedom.” Traleg Kyagbon Rinpoche Every one of us holds at least one heartbreaking secret and how we hold it makes all the difference. You have given me and thousands of others, DAYS in your many written worlds that took us through all sorts of challenges, physical and mental, that you’ll never know about. Your characters and the hidden strengths you write in them and the funny or touching dialog unlocks small compartments in your reader’s hearts that just might give us the courage to talk with our friends about our own private dragons. Now, when I read your sharing something very real from your life, my view of you as Word Heroine rises even more. You are a slayer of all sorts of demons and in this world, you are held in the highest regard by many friends you haven’t met yet; just like me. “We are all just walking each other home.” Ram Dass

  • Kelly Scott

    thank you. I appreciate your sharing this part of your life. I have severe depression as well. Things that happened that knocked me off of my feet to the point I could barely function. I found your books and the strong characters helped me in more ways that you could ever know. I wish to thank you for showing there is strength and I support you as a fan. thank you for being you and doing what you do. Your blog helps not just me, but I am sure others.

  • Lilith, I admire your bravery in telling what you have. If you are not already acquainted with Jenny Larson (“The Blogess”) you should know that she also has shared much in this area. Both of you give strength where needed just by sharing and being yourselves.

  • Nikki

    Thank you for writing these posts. I feel less alone.

  • You was so brave doing that! I’m proud and I feel represented by you.

  • Shrek

    Simply Thank You!

  • Thanks for holding the line. It does help.

  • Tempest

    I would add that it’s also helpful for those of us who don’t suffer from depression. When you share, we understand better what you’re going through. (Ohhhh, THAT’S what it’s like . . . THAT’S what you’re struggling with . . .) We can be better friends, relatives, co-workers, etc. rather than unfeeling jerks. (Because some of us don’t mean to be unfeeling jerks . . .) This helps us be better people. And that’s always good.

  • Ron

    It takes a great amount of courage to speak out as you have. Thank you for sharing a particularly difficult part of your journey.

  • Jess

    Thank you. It helps to know that I’m not alone.

  • keli

    I spent 5 years in a cycle of deep depression that makes me feel ashamed, still, at the kind of mother and wife I was. I’m surprised my husband stuck with me, though it was close, and that my girl is reasonably well adjusted because I was virtually useless. Showering was a big deal. I didn’t go anywhere or do anything but read. Luckily, the local library didn’t mind smelly angry people because one day I was lucky enough to pick up a copy of book that made me feel. Who knew that one of the most mal-adjusted characters I’ve ever read about could help lead me back from the black times. I’m not saying Dante Valentine healed me but she gives me succour in times of need.

  • I went through something similar. Childhood/adolescent trauma that followed me into adulthood. I went through years of depression and anxiety attacks before I saw a therapist. I remember the anxiety attacks well. Having someone pick me up from wherever I was because I was too dizzy to drive. Lying in bed in the fetal position thinking I was going to die. Or having to leave a restaurant or movie because I couldn’t breathe. Forcing myself to go to the store and to work. By the time medication was suggested I was willing to try anything. I was in therapy for about eighteen months and medication for three to four years. I have been well enough to be off everything but sleeping meds for the past four years. I am thankful everyday that my husband was so supportive during that time-and that he was there for our kids when I was unable-and I feel for you that you didn’t have that because I cannot even begin to imagine how I would have dealt if I was going through a divorce and acting as a single mom. But it sounds like you had a support system in some friends. I hope you can take some comfort in the posts knowing that people care enough about you to send their wishes and share a little of themselves.

  • Auryn

    *sniff* That last paragraph made me cry. I’ve said it before, but I’m so glad you’re writing about this.

  • I’m very glad you shared. I don’t suffer from depression or anxiety disorders, but my husband does. It helped me to get a glance inside and maybe understand better the things that he can’t always express. It also helped me to recognize some things that he needs to be looked at for, because what he thinks of as depression, sounds a lot more like anxiety. He also had a traumatic childhood and going to Iraq and Afghanistan compounded all of the issues. Thanks for sharing.