The first half of 2015 was difficult in my little part of the world.
I began 2015 with high hopes and great expectations. I had officially left the formality and structure of the office environment for working at home full-time. I was SO (as in SO!!!!) excited to be free of paying for coffee and having to decide what to have for lunch the night before I would have to eat it.
Seriously, how can you know what you’ll want to eat the day before you’re actually going to eat it?
Anyway, I was SO excited to be free of listening to bosses I increasingly
never rarely barely hardly respected. Mostly I was ready to just be able to work all day long without having to go to meetings, eat birthday/retirement/promotion cake, and pretend to not be bothered by office behavior I believed was juvenile ridiculous child-ish baby-ish infantile unprofessional.
Yes, I had an attitude.
But I had earned my attitude. I had worked around the clock for years and years (and years and years). I had earned the right to be completely pissy about the absurdity of workplace culture and practices.
So I began 2015 very excited about a new, less stressful, more enjoyable, more productive professional life.
And then shit happened.
Because, as you well know, I am sure, shit happens.
I won’t bore you with the details of the shit. Just think paperwork, delays, roadblocks, finances, bills, red tape, jumping through hoops and all that. It was that kind of shit. And, to be honest, I can generally handle that kind of shit.
It stinks but I can handle a bit of stink as long as it’s not forever.
I was still excited though – even with the stinky shit. I was especially still excited after I spoke with trusted comrades who shared that their own professional transitions to working at home had been fraught with stressful shit too.
Wow, I’ve said shit a lot so far.
Sorry, but it was truly shitty.
But I forged ahead. I kept my eyes on the prize by working, working, working and trying not to get distracted by the you-know-what.
And then, the love of my life, my beautiful best friend of a feline, Boo Radley, died.
Boo at 6 – on Halloween.
Boo a few months ago – negotiating with Baby Bella.
I had known that Boo’s life was coming to an end. He was of that age. He was on the verge of living to 20.
And he wasn’t as sturdy from time to time. I knew he was starting to wrap things up.
So I was kind of ready.
I was dreading the day Boo left me, but I was kind of ready.
And I had a therapist I could go to when Boo died who would understand what it feels like to love your precious cat more than anything in the world. In fact, I had chosen my therapist, Bonnie Anthony, because of the fact that was passionate about rescuing dogs. I had chosen her to be my primary brain doctor during a time of my life when I really needed someone who understood me and my bad brain.
I knew that someone who loved rescuing animals would understand my life. I don’t rescue animals on a regular basis, but my beloved Boo had kept me going on with life through some really tough times. I love people who understand the animal connection.
When Boo died, I didn’t tell anyone except for my immediate family and Bonnie Anthony. I emailed my family and told them that Boo had died and that I couldn’t talk about it out loud for a while because it hurt too much.
And of course Dr. A understood. She’s an animal person.
And then, shortly after Boo died, someone important in my life died. I can’t write about that yet. It’s too difficult and complicated and sad and hard to accept.
It’s too soon.
But I explained it all in an email to Dr. A. I explained it in an email because I had to reschedule my appointment with her to attend the funeral. Just writing about it to her was helpful since I knew she loved me and could absorb some of my hurt.
Just before our rescheduled appointment, Dr. A emailed me to say that we had to reschedule our rescheduled appointment. Dr. A was having major surgery.
I wasn’t worried. Dr. A is an eensy teensy itty bitty gal, but she seemed to be tougher than any ten men (or women) I know. She had a zeal for life and a love for her family that I knew could out-run any medical problem.
I wished Dr. A well and believed she would email me immediately when she could, even if that was during surgery. Dr. A loved me and had historically kept in touch with me even during times when she should have been off the clock. I could imagine her emailing her beloved patients as soon as she was able to, unable to stay away from humans she knew depended on her being available, flexible with her overwhelming support and ready to save those in pain from the current hurt.
I can’t figure out how to say in words that Dr. A is gone, but she is. Something was too much for her body – either the surgery or the condition – and I hope very much that she is now with my Boo Boo in Heaven. I hope that she is cuddling him and being cuddled by him. I can’t explain it more than that. It is, as they say, surreal.
I had seen many doctors before Dr. A. When you live with recurrent severe depression, otherwise known as a messed up brain, you need to have doctors on board and ready to catch you when your brain tells you to fall.
Some doctors were better at the catch than others.
But Dr. A was different in a million ways.
Dr. A loved me. And she liked me. And she genuinely thought highly of me.
And she hated my depression as much as I do.
Dr. A didn’t say the things I hate to hear. She didn’t opine endlessly on my family or friends or support system or life choices. She didn’t think I needed to talk any more about depression than was absolutely necessary. She knew depression was depressing and didn’t have any interest in making me think about it more than I needed to.
Dr. A wanted to hear about my life. She didn’t see me as a depressed person. She saw me as a really talented, amazing and funny person who was doing a good job of managing a highly annoying and inconvenient condition.
Dr. A hated the bosses I hated right along with me. And she hated how long it takes for a licensing deal to go through. She loved my Boo and she loved my Bella. Before Baby Bella, she loved my Addie and liked that Addie had been named after Atticus Finch.
Dr. A also loved my comic strip, which I thought was pretty funny. She read it every day and reported to me which ones she liked the most. Eventually, I had to create a character based on Dr. A.
I would say that the character of the Reply All therapist was just ‘inspired’ by Dr. A, but that would be misleading. Looking back at the therapist strips, which began in March of 2013, I believe most of those conversations actually took place, possibly verbatim.
I would tell Dr. A how much I thought something about life or work or love or family or depression was stupid. She would agree it was stupid.
Now THAT is the best type of therapist. I always felt validated and less crazy-in-a-bad-way when I left Dr. A’s office.
It’s hard to talk about your doctor these days with HIPAA and all of that complicated legal stuff governing conversations about health. But Dr. A and I had discussed confidentiality. She knew that eventually I would share my story about depression for the sole purpose of helping others in pain. She knew that eventually I would write about her and want to identify her for purposes of making the story real. She was okay with my talking about her and identifying her.
To be honest, I think she wanted me to license her character eventually. I think she wanted her funny and adorable self to be on pillows and mugs and iPad cases.
She was adorable. She was really and truly adorable.
Dr. A wanted more for me. And I love her for that.
I love her for genuinely laughing at almost everything I said, as if seeing me had made her day and her life even better.
I love her for crying with me when I couldn’t control my own tears. I love her for hating to see me in pain but letting me be in pain without apologizing for making her experience it too.
I love Bonnie Anthony for being very real with me and for genuinely caring whether I lived or died. I know in my heart and soul that she loved me and valued my contributions to this world. I know that she would have missed me if I had decided to leave this world prematurely, which I unfortunately think of from time to time due to my badly wired brain.
Bonnie Anthony never told me not to hurt myself because it was wrong or too permanent or anything like that.
She just said she would miss me.
I really miss her.