When Real Life And Reality TV Collide

You’ll learn as we go along that my TV tastes hover mostly in the world of dramatic (some might say “trashy”) reality or true crime. This week, my real life collided with what I was watching play out on Vanderpump Rules.

For those not familiar, Vanderpump Rules (or “Pump Rules” as it’s better known in the hashtag realm of Twitter) is a reality show on Bravo. It’s centered around a group of friends who work for restaurateur and philanthropist Lisa Vanderpump. They work primarily at SUR, but since the inception of the show she and her husband Ken Todd have created other venues included on the show, such as Pump and TomTom.

Over the past eight seasons we’ve witnessed the dramatic relationships between the cast including cheating scandals, birthday meltdowns, couplings and conscious uncouplings, and a veritable river of alcohol flowing throughout. Up until now my viewing has been from entirely voyeuristic perspective into lives I found completely dissimilar, albeit entertaining, to my own.

That changed this week when Ariana Madix discussed her history of depression with Lisa Vanderpump. As Ariana spoke of her experiences, her words resonated with every core of my being. Despite not always being a fan of hers, I discovered a new kinship and was happy to see the real life struggle being tackled on what had previously been a fairly innocuous platform.

The next morning I signed on to Twitter with the excitement of a child blessed with a snow day, anxious to capitalize on the moment and to continue a much needed dialogue. Imagine my surprise and dejection when the first tweets I stumbled across were ones mocking Ariana’s experience or dismissing it as fake. I was gutted.

Twitter can be cruel in general, with the ability to say pretty much whatever you want without consequence whether it’s fact-based or not. This seemed especially cruel to me, likely because my brain translated it into a personal attack.

When I received my diagnosis I was advised by my doctor to share it with everyone in my world. He told me that too many stay silent because of the stigma of mental illness. I took his advice and was flabbergasted by some of the responses I received by people I loved, who I knew loved me in return. They varied from “That can’t be right, you’re one of the happiest people I know,” to “you just need more sleep.” It was then that I became aware of how truly misunderstood depression is.

My first responses to the tweets of the arm chair psychologists were outrage and a renewed sense of shame. Those quickly fell by the wayside and I chose instead to focus my energy on educating those who lack the experience to know of what they speak.

When people who haven’t experienced it hear the word, they almost immediately associate it with sadness or the inability to be happy. It does manifest as sadness with some, but it can also display itself as irritability, a tendency to withdraw, anxiety, sleeping too much or too little, and even physical aches and pains. Increases or decreases in appetite and energy are also manifestations.

Most doctors will start you on some form of SSRI medication that increases seratonin levels which in turn increases the transmission of messages between neurons. SSRIs don’t work for everyone, however, and there’s no concrete evidence to show how or why the imbalance occurs. Basically it’s a trial and error method of treatment that can take several tries to be effective for some.

I’m not an M.D., I’m a housewife and run of the mill human who is learning to deal with my new normal. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, don’t take my word for it…consult a professional. There is hope to be had and the light at the end of the tunnel doesn’t have to be an oncoming train.


Published by Jen B. @JenBennsJourney

Full time housewife, mom, & grandma. Learning to manage depression and anxiety by talking about them and other things along the path.

12 thoughts on “When Real Life And Reality TV Collide

  1. Great piece, Jen.

    As someone who has struggled with severe depression and anxiety since I was a teenager, I appreciate this very much.

    I actually corresponded with Ariana about this. She took exception to the cover meme I did for our podcast episode, and we had an exchange. I let her know that she’s among friends and that we were definitely not mocking her! (we were actually mocking the rich people asking for their bartending jobs back).

    It took years to find medications that work and I live in fear that they could stop working. I know some people never find the right “cocktail.” I’m glad that in the darkness, there are people like you who reach out. Reach out to me anytime.

    Love you, Jen. You’re one of my favorite people. XO

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Brianna.

      I can’t emphasize enough how invaluable your encouragement has been. You have reinvigorated a joy for writing that I had buried, and I’m so grateful. The opportunities you’ve given me have added a layer of self worth that is crucial for anyone battling depression.

      We’re still figuring out my perfect cocktail, but I do feel markedly better than I did pre-diagnosis. I’m thankful for all of our chats and your willingness to guide me through my new normal.

      Love you back. Feel extremely blessed to have you in my life. XOXO


  2. Wow, so happy for you Jen! What a great platform and you can help so many ppl…..love that you opened up about this as it is important to have open dialog with ppl struggling with depression! Ever need someone to talk about recovering from opioid addiction, let me know-I’m your gal!πŸ˜‰ Again, so so so proud of u!πŸ˜˜πŸ™ŒπŸ»πŸ₯°

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am thankful you’re willing to share this with us. I suffer from depression. My sister had bi-polar disorder. My daughter’s father when she was 3 took his life. It’s not funny it’s nice to meet you! Xo


    1. Thank you so much, Lynda. I’m so sorry for what you are going through and that your daughter’s father lost his battle. It’s my hope that the more open we are, the more tragedies we can avoid. I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. XOXO


      1. Jen this was a very moving piece and you are very brave for sharing your reality with all of us.
        I wish you all the best and know you are loved and not judged.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you, Kim. I’m trying to learn not worry about being judged. It’s not easy, but it’s liberating. My life is this now. Hating or being ashamed of a part of it I can’t fix completely would turn into a cycle of negativity and diminished self worth. I’ve already been down that road. It was dark and thorny. I’d rather choose a path that’s well-lit and peaceful. Thank you again for reading. XOXO


  4. Thanks so much for taking the time to speak on this important subject. You are right. It looks different on everyone. While one person will take to their bed, another wil push through the day taking any task to keep the mind busy or out of pure necessity. Not everyone will understand. Not everyone will care. Just know there are some of us that actually do! Much love and light on your personal journey. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Very well written πŸ‘ while I haven’t had to deal with depression I have family members that do. My Twitter voyage is relatively new so I’m just getting used to how unfeeling and arrogant some people are in response to what I perceive as a cry for help.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m coming up on my first year on Twitter and am amazed (not in a good way) at how low it can go. It’s one thing to dislike a television personality, it’s another to wish harm or to mock the harm inflicted on one. Thanks for reading, Peggy. As always, I adore you.


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