“You are doing very well! I don’t even think you need therapy!”
My psychiatrist beams with pride after we had a good laugh about my misadventures into new social circles (“No, I didn’t know anyone, but somehow the evening ended on us fondly reminiscing about a brilliant party I actually never was at and, to some dismay of the local organisation, me finishing off the only bottle of brown rum in the establishment“), my endeavours at dating (“Of course I openly divulge I am a basket case! How else can I find a like-minded
basked ca soulmate?“), and my continued success at actually getting out of bed every morning (“It actually does rather help that the coffee machine is on a different floor“).
Clearly I not only show a clear understanding of the formal dynamics and processes of my situation, but I evidently entertained him.
That gladdens me, even though I disagree with his assessment. I’m pretty smart. I can talk a good deal (a great deal, even). Make a fair analysis. Draw proper conclusions. Even tie my own shoelaces. But that’s not the point.
The feeling of sinking deeper all the time is overwhelming, even while I know I’m taking all the right steps. Excercise. Structure. Enough sleep (when possible). Eating pretty varied and healthy. Most of the time. Reading the right books. Asking the right questions. Socialising. Going out.
But always there is this voice inside. This rock solid conviction. This almost religious tenet I am incapable of addressing, much less changing: “Not worthy“.
Whatever I do, in the end I will fail. I will fail in helping myself. I will fail in creating my own stable and sustainable emotional environment. I will fail in becoming a grounded, well-rounded, worthwhile partner. I will fail. I will fail. I will fail.
Yeah. Clearly I don’t need therapy. 🙄
“Depression? That’s when ten people are screaming in your face at the top of their lungs “I LOVE YOU!”
But there’s this little voice inside of you that says “no, they don’t”.
And the voice wins. Every time.“
And yet I do not enjoy being viewed or treated as a patient, not even by a professional health care worker. Notwithstanding me acting fairly cavalier about it, I do not want people to think of me -much worse approach me- as less. Incapable. An invalid. A loser.
Yes. A basket case. Even though I am.
Much as it annoys and angers me, this pattern I entertain of being emotionally dependent -to a fairly pathetic level- on other people’s opinions (real or imagined) is one that I have so far not been able to break. Oh, I am aware of it. I can see myself doing it (although sadly mostly in hindsight). But I can’t break it.
Especially people I hold in high esteem or have a strong emotional connection to can -as unaware of their sway over me as they may be!- make me.
Or utterly break me.
It’s a major reason why I dread going back into work.
While the experts involved agree it would be a good idea for me to try and get into the flow of things again (if even only for a couple of hours a week), I am not relishing the thought being visible again in my current state of emotional disarray. I fear weathering the inevitable questions.
“Where have you been?”
“What are you working on?”
And the very worst one: “how are you doing?”.
I know I swore at the beginning of this trajectory I’d never hide myself again by making up some kind of story or lie. But I have spent quite some time cultivating my image of Mr. H The Dependable. Mr. H. The Fixer. And as much as I know that most inquiries will come from the best of intentions and the kindest of hearts, once a reputation is shattered, it is almost impossible to come back. And I find that once again I am letting myself be determined by the reactions and potential thoughts of others.
And much worse: I already attribute to them that one greatest fear: that they will think less of me. That they’ll find me pitiable. Unworthy.
Yes, yes, yes. I know it all sounds really self-pityingly, and reeking of begging for attention or affirmation (“Noooo, Mr. H. you’re so brilliant and awesome and we wish to bestow love, kisses, gold, myrrh and frankincense upon you”. )
Believe me, the whole thing is close to making me throw up. I am not a big fan of my brain right now, and would gladly substitute the frankincense for Frankenstein.
On And Off(ice)
I would have greatly preferred to be on the radar again only when I’d be able to resume at least some of my formal responsibilities. Take on tasks on the high professional levels I am known for. But I shouldn’t. Much as I try not to, I still “crash” far too often, being overwhelmed by crippling self-doubt and self-hatred. Which I guess would play fairly poorly in a customer meeting.
And I worry about what to say.
As nothing shows, nothing is self-evident. I may look a little tired. A bit more grey-haired, I think.
But there’s no plaster cast. No wheel chair. No eye patch.
So do I say I’m fine?
It’ll certainly minimise my exposure: either the conversation will be brief, or quickly -mercifully- turn to the other person (“and how have you been? Where did you vacation? Yes, please do show me the photos – all six thousand four hundred and three of them. Isn’t digital photography just the best thing?- of your kids stuffing themselves on french fries in the the all-inclusive four star resort in Hävenoclu. Did you see any of the medieval citadels along the coa…oh, didn’t get off the resort grounds. Of course. Why would you? They have three pools! And the sea is just so…you know… unreliable. Yes, marvelous. Oh look! Lunch time already!”)
Or do I tell the truth?
That I have been metaphorically holding my breath for months now, without any view towards relief yet?
That I am so incapable of relaxing that I need to make a dentist’s appointment next week because I have been clenching my teeth so badly I have actually chipped a tooth?
That every day still I drive myself to extremes of activity, to the level of physical exhaustion and detriment (hernia and kidney stones are back, with a vengeance) because the second I stop the wolf is at my very throat every single time?
That even though I’m doing everything in my not-inconsiderable power to withstand, change and battle my dark, dark mind, the thought of just stopping is still the kindest, softest, most peaceful one I entertain? All the time?
No. I can’t spring that on people, and expect anyone to understand it. Leave alone deal with it. It is not the place. Not the time. It would be deeply unfair.
This burden is mine.
I think I’ll break my promise.
Song for the day:
“I’ll take you down the only road I’ve ever been down
You know the one that takes you to the places where all the veins meet, yeah.
No change, I can’t change, I can’t change, I can’t change,
but I’m here in my mold, I am here in my mold.
But I’m a million different people from one day to the next
I can’t change my mold“