The Cost of Honesty

It’s hard to be honest when The Illness reaches this level of intensity.  I’ve been told the despair and hopelessness are too scary, too intimidating, too uncomfortable to witness and cause a ricochet of helplessness and a drive to fix me.  So, I don’t share this very much, even though it’s the time I need human contact the most.

When I am at my worst, the cost of asking for support is more than I can afford.  The illness has already rubbed away my self-worth, so in my mind I don’t deserve it.  And as my thoughts become more distorted, I imagine the dread my friends and family must feel when they hear my voice on the phone or see me drive up to their homes.  Not again.  I don’t want to spend the last bit of goodwill I may have with these people.  What if I get worse and have nothing left in my account with them?

The other cost is trying to endure the inevitable Question—What can I do to help?  When the illness gets this severe, there’s no way to answer that question, no way to even consider it.  What I need is whatever they want to do.  I can’t possibly tell them what that might be.  I can’t tell them what they’re capable of or willing to try.  I need them to figure it out.  I need them to offer.  Because I’m lost in here.  If I could find my own way out, I would, believe me.

And if it’s hard to be honest during the worst of an episode, it’s impossible to tell the truth.  I can’t trust whatever my brain labels as The Truth and have learned that speaking it out loud only terrifies my loved ones and lands me in the hospital.  Truth morphs to the reality of the moment, and that is in constant flux during a severe episode.  So I try to ride on top of the Dark Absolutes that seem so inevitable.  I try not to pick up the words my mother said once when I was very sick—This is not a life—and turn it into an anthem.

Last night, driving in my truck, crying so hard I couldn’t see, I took a chance with a new friend.  She knew about my illness, and had always been very kind, but I’d not dipped into the equity we’d built up.  She took me in without any sign of fear or horror and just chatted about “normal things.”  She offered her time, and her presence, and a simple way to distract me from myself.  I couldn’t concentrate very well, but that didn’t matter.  The sound of her voice, the taste of the iced coffee she gave me, the sense of being safe pushed back the darkness so that I could go home and sleep.

And while I was terrified to ask Penny for help, I knew I had to.  I knew I wouldn’t survive the night without reaching out to someone.  And if I could just risk the costs involved, I could hang on until the illness shifted.  Because is always does.  That is an absolute truth.


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dee Ready
    Sep 16, 2012 @ 13:50:03

    Dear Sandy Sue, the whole question of honesty that you face is one that I encountered with the acute rotational episodes of Meniere’s. It took me several months before I could ask friends for help. I am so relieved that you reached out to Penny and that she responded in such a loving and understanding way. Peace.


  2. docrob50
    Sep 18, 2012 @ 10:51:55

    Sandy Sue, how would you feel if I shared some of your posts to a larger audience?


  3. yourothermotherhere
    Sep 18, 2012 @ 18:30:47

    You know what? I know G-d brings people into our lives when we need them – and here’s the other half of that important statement – and when they need us. You needed a friend that fit you and there she is for you, and you for her. Believe it.


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