I have learned that I put on a different face for the outside world. I have learned that I shut down my emotions until I am in the confines of my own space. I am able to hide my depression from the world. I am able to hide my emotions. When you do this through practice and years of living with this illness, you become a pro. Here's an example for you: I recently had a dr.'s appt. and my husband was in the middle of recording some music downstairs. He asked me if I needed him to drive me to the appt. I said, "No, it's only 3 blocks away." But, when I arrived at the office, I started to panic. This particular dr.'s office is a little disheveled and the girls behind the desk are not extremely friendly. They're kind of just "there." I started fixing the bump in the rug and the picture behind their desks because it was totally crooked. This didn't bother them at all. But, for some reason unknown to me, it bothered me a lot. "AM I crazy? Why should I care if their office is a mess?" I started to have a panic attack while I was waiting to see the dr. I asked if I could stretch in a secluded part of the office. I concentrated on my breathing. All the while, I was smiling and making chit chat with them and the other patients. Let me preface all this by letting you know that I had just arrived home two days before after burying my little brother. My emotions were all over the place, but you wouldn't know it by my actions. When I arrived home, I slept for over 4 hours.
During the wake and funeral for my brother, I expelled so much pent up emotion that my nieces and nephews kept close to me so I wouldn't fall down from a cataplexy attack. They really took care of me. By the time the evening wake hours arrived, I had slept at my sister's house and had focused my attention on ONE THING: honoring my brother's life by singing "Oh, Danny Boy." When I got up to sing the song, I shut down all emotion. I stood at the place where a beautiful picture of him and his son was resting on an easel. As I started the song, I felt a presence at my elbow helping me along. The presence was my father, dead all these 31 years, and then I knew that Danny was in the arms of my parents. After the "performance," there wasn't a dry eye in the room. I felt nothing. I sat next to my husband and he cradled me in his arms while I slept. By all accounts, I should have had a cataplexy attack, but I didn't because I know how to SHUT DOWN. Don't let anyone see your weaknesses, and God forbid anyone should see the ugly truth of a cataplexy attack.
This is what I have learned.