October 6, 2013 § Leave a comment
Depression is so misunderstood if you’re not “in it.” I tried talking to one of my oldest and closest friends about mine, my own “coming out” if you will, and it didn’t go especially well. It’s not that he reacted negatively, because he was very sympathetic and accepting, but he didn’t really understand what I was talking about.
“Chase, I’m depressed.”
“What are you depressed about?”
“No, I’m depressed.”
“Oh. Maybe you need more sunshine. ::insert lots of info about vitamin B and the benefits of sunshine::.”
I love him to death, but it really wasn’t how I wanted the conversation to go. If it’s the case that depressed people can really only talk meaningfully and productively with other depressed people, what does that mean for mental health care? And what does it mean when you don’t trust that people can really get better? I keep wanting to believe dad really is out of the woods (is that the phrase?), that he really is going to be better from here on out, but I just don’t believe it. Because I’m a depressive and thus always predict the worst outcome? Or because I’ve seen him have his highs and lows and hit rock bottom? I don’t know.
I think it’s coincidence that I’ve had such a tough day today. This morning was sunny, incredibly humid, and in the upper 70s. By the time I got home from my second walk, it was pouring rain and the temperature was dropping rapidly. By 10:30am, it was windy, raining, and in the lower 50s. I went to an intern event for lunch, got carsick, then did yet another dog walk, and went home to get in bed.
After about an hour, I felt much better (as in, less nauseated) and started gathering supplies to finally make a very belated birthday present for one of my best friends who lives back in Birmingham. I logged on facebook to look for a photo of us together to use for the present (I hand-make all my gifts) and her page kept saying “not found.” Confused, I texted her immediately, at which time I learned she deleted her account. Kind of ironic, really.
What was my response? I started crying.
Now, Chase would probably say I didn’t get enough sunshine today because the crazy weather, sudden cold snap, and cloud cover all day. I’m also PMSing, and lord knows that if a uterus can make a human baby from scratch, it can seriously fuck with your emotional stability. I’ve also had a really stressful week and am heading into a really stressful month as October is insanely busy at the museum, plus my second job, plus I’m planning trips through the end of the year, etc. etc. etc. Oh yeah, and I’m clinically depressed!
I think the main thing that upset me was I could see this being the beginning of the end of our friendship. I’ve spent my entire life saying goodbye to friends, watching our relationships fizzle as it gets harder and harder to keep up with each other’s lives. Facebook, as problematic as the social media site can be, is an excellent way to keep in touch with friends without requiring much effort on the part of either party. Without it, we only have texting and emails. One is instant, but I feel like I’m annoying someone if I text them and typing on a phone can be tiresome and limiting. The other requires much more time and thought, at least if you’re constructing an email like a letter instead of simply “Hey, look at this news article.”
Out of the three people who were most important to me in Birmingham, I’m now only friends with one of them. It’s so heartbreaking. One relationship I tore apart, and the other I now will be forced to watch fizzle.
So I cried on the way to both of my evening dog walks, reliving my happiest memories from Birmingham when we were all together. Everyone was so great when I left, they were all supportive and respected my wishes that everyone part casually, like they would see me again soon. They treated the moment like it would be repeated, even though I’m sure we all knew that we would never all be together like that again. At least not with me in the mix. Maybe it was only important and precious to me since I was the one leaving.
And now I’m alone in Dallas with only one real friend, though sometimes I think he just hangs out with me because I’m available. I like the other interns in small doses, but I either hate them or they hate me after prolonged periods of togetherness. I could go out more, join a club or something to try to meet more people, but as always, I don’t feel like investing in Dallas. I plan on leaving by the time my lease is up next September, so once again, my interactions are dictated by me already having one foot out the door.
It takes me so long to fill out background check forms for each new job because I’ve lived so many places and lived there for such a short time I have to look up my addresses in my Amazon account because I can’t remember them. I’ve gotten so used to the mentality that I’m always leaving, I’m honestly not sure I know how to do anything different. The concept of staying in one place for more than a couple years is so foreign to me, I can’t even imagine it. I feel like I’m going to be stuck in this cycle of resisting attachment because I move, and then moving, and then resisting attachment because I move. And I’m getting too old for that to really work if I ever were to meet someone who can get past my long list of terrible traits (stubbornness seems to be the biggest one right now) to follow my cycle of moving constantly, because most people I would date already have jobs, have careers. People don’t ditch jobs and careers for a woman, not in a country in a recession anyway.
But can a depressed person ever really make someone else happy?
I was telling my cousin about my absolute failure at “true forgiveness” and said something off-hand but that shocked me with its truth. I told him that I wasn’t depressed because those things happened to me, but those things happened to me because I was depressed. Can I blame my depression as the reason for my self-worth issues? I don’t really have anything in my early development that could explain my self-worth issues. My parents and extended family were incredibly loving when I was a child. I honestly can’t remember if my high expectations were set by me or set by my parents. I remember being a mere first-grader and feeling like I wasn’t pretty, that I was weird and awkward and that my friends were so much prettier. I used to stand in front of the mirror, hating my potato knees, my stubby feet, my stumpy fingers. What kind of 5 year old does that? And it never stopped. I mostly appreciate my feet now for being generally cute, and I really like my hands now, but I still spend too much time in front of the mirror hating everything about how I look and wondering why I can’t be more comfortable in my own skin and more appreciative that I’m not deformed or paralyzed.
Going back to my stubbornness, I’ve certainly been told that I’m good-looking, that I’m an attractive girl. I didn’t really believe anyone until I met Mark, and he told me every time with such conviction that I definitely stopped to wonder if what he said was true. I couldn’t believe it, of course, because I’ve spent 25 years hating myself and everything he said that so dramatically countered my worldview couldn’t possibly be true. But I still try to imagine myself through his eyes sometimes, just to see if I can see what he saw. I started laughing out loud earlier this evening, remembering how pained I was when he told me I had “thick” legs, but he meant it as a compliment. I laughed because it was the first time he said something about my appearance that I actually agreed with, and yet it hurt that much more hearing someone else confirm what I already think about myself. It’s funny because I would get so upset when he wouldn’t agree with me on something and then this one time he does, and I’m still upset.
You can’t make someone happy if you contradict them all the time.
You can’t make someone happy if you don’t believe what they say even though you know they’re being truthful and sincere.
You can’t make someone happy if you can’t let them love you.
And you can’t make someone happy if you won’t let yourself love them back.
When I was in first grade, my parents would come have lunch with me at school on occasion. I don’t remember what we talked about, but I do remember crying when they left. Crying because I didn’t want them to leave me, crying because I didn’t want to be alone.
When I was in middle school, I remember my mother was going into town and asked me if I wanted to go with her and I said no. After she left the house, I changed my mind, because of course I wanted to spend a few hours hanging out with my mom over playing with my stuffed animals in my room alone, so I hurried after her. She was already pulling out onto the road, so I ran after her, screaming for her to wait for me, for her not to leave me alone, but of course she couldn’t hear me over the car engine, so I was left panting and sobbing in the middle of a country road, alone.
When I was in high school, I spent as much time hanging out with my parents as I could and spent a good deal of my free time listening to Iron & Wine and crying, fixated on the inevitable death of my parents, when I would be left alone. I used to cry on my drive home from hanging out with my friends, knowing that a day would eventually come when they would no longer exist. I even cried after listening to the albums of my then-favorite band because I knew one day they would have to stop making music, stop performing, stop making my life more enjoyable.
When I was in college, I let all of my emotions get pent up until I exploded and finally told Alec what was bothering me, or that I was upset. I can still remember how hard my heart would pound and my hands would shake when I knew I was upset enough that I had to talk to him about it. Then I would cry and panic because I thought that any time I brought up an issue or we had a fight, that he was going to leave me and I would be broken-hearted and alone. Even when times were really good, I would cry at night knowing that at some point in our lives, even way down the road, one of us would have to live without the other.
It’s crazy to think about this pattern of panic and grief related to losing the people in my life, this pattern of fear of being alone that has persisted in my core for my entire life thus far. It’s crazy, because now I run towards every opportunity to be alone, stuck in a cycle where I’m constantly abandoning anyone and everyone who happens to meet me and, despite my many flaws, care about me in the slightest way.
My greatest fear has been to end up alone and now I’m on a path that can only end that way.
Oh the irony.