My Head’s a Mess

April 19, 2014 § 1 Comment

I can’t even get a grasp of where my head’s been today. All over the place, across the universe and back. It’s been a mess. Certainly, waking up at 4am freaking out over money problems should have been an indication of how the day was going to go, but I really did do my best to try to turn things around. I walked the girls, mailed my interviewer a thank you card, got a large coffee from Dunkin, opened the windows at home… but my head is still zooming in and out of areas of thought with little regard for the present.

Last weekend, I joined my cousin and his girlfriend on a trip to the botanical gardens in Mobile. When we got off the interstate and began closing in on the gardens, we learned that it was actually a historic home with gardens, not a true “botanical garden.” No matter, I didn’t really care since I was just trying to get out of the house to enjoy some sunshine. It wasn’t until we had walked around half the gardens and made it to the fountains beside the house that I realized… I know this house. I know these gardens.

That was the location I’d picked for mine and Alec’s never-to-be wedding.

I think I was foolish for thinking I would get married around the same age my parents did. That’s not a reasonable expectation for myself, especially not for Alec and I. But I dreamed on anyway, just waiting and waiting for Alec to surprise me with a ring on my birthday, at christmas, etc.

I really need to forgive myself for not reaching my ridiculous, groundless, damn near absurd expectations. I was just a kid. Alec was just my first love. Those things don’t add up to Ever After.

So realizing that we were casually wandering around the place I picked for my wedding was really a punch in the stomach, or a twist of scar tissue, or something to that effect. I will say, however, that despite my emotional discomfort, I did appreciate my own excellent taste in locale: the place was *gorgeous.*

———–

My dad thinks I’m setting myself up for failure, sabotaging my own happiness and success either because my depression is strong enough to demand that I be miserable forever or my mind knows that I need to slow down, focus on the present, in order to recover and get healthy.

I don’t really buy either of those theories. I’ve learned a lot from my failures. I’m a woman completely without a plan now. No five-year track. No realistic image of what my life is going to be like a year or ten years from now. I’m simply swirling, stuck in a kind of purgatory, constantly grappling with all the events (failures and successes) that have led me here and wondering what the hell I’m supposed to do with all of that information.

Add in some healthy/expected anxiety resulting from starting on my new Wellbutrin routine, and perhaps my messy head is more understandable or excusable. I don’t know where this post is going, but I’m feeling better writing things out, trying to sort through my thoughts and feeling in some kind of reflective way. Pretend this is a drunk post or something. That might help you wade through it, or perhaps you should simply stop reading here. Maybe you should have stopped reading at the title.

——-

I do think it’s true that my depression has drastically affected many things in my life, most especially my relationships with people. My disinterest, my impatience, my insecurities, my judgements, my negativity. I think Dad’s right that people can pick up on the fact that something is off about me, they can sense that something is wrong. That’s the “nature” side of human beings — we can sense “otherness” and difference intuitively. Whether they realize it or not, people can feel that something is wrong with me and respond to it. And that has led to many conflicts that I doubt would have happened had I been healthy.

The way I deal with people is very reflective of a depressive as well. I’m damn near bipolar with the people I love, wanting to be around them every second but then, like flipping a switch, I’m suddenly desperate for alone time. I cherish every minute I have with them but the second they upset me, I bail. I don’t just do this with my romantic relationships, I do this with friends and family too. I hate that about myself and everyone else seems to hate it too. I’m hoping once we find a medication cocktail that works in the way it should, that will become less of an issue, less of a negative force in the way I relate to the people I love.

My depression also drives a persistent disinterest in other people which makes my social life very flat and dissatisfying in addition to causing lots of conflict at work in particular. I unintentionally and unknowingly make many people feel irrelevant which is, perhaps unsurprisingly to you, apparently very upsetting. To be fair, depression dulls my intellectual and emotional senses, making me responsive only to the most intense stimuli. That’s why I can be so intense about my studies of art but so bored during most conversations with my fellow human beings. Even with people I love, sometimes they’re talking on about something and in my brain I think, “God, I just don’t care. I’d rather be alone than trying to maintain this boring conversation.” It’s also why I either *really* care about people or don’t care about them at all. I don’t have a lot of people that I consider friends and not best friends, and why I can’t actually casually date. If I don’t think I will be with you for the long-haul, you’re probably not going to get more than two dates with me.

I don’t want to make people feel insecure and unimportant. I don’t want people to feel like they have to prove their significance to me. I don’t want people to feel bad because my depression makes me think they’re boring. Everyone has a story, a unique perspective, a special talent. I should want to spend the time and emotional and intellectual energy to uncover all these little mysteries within the people around me. As a human being, a predominantly social animal, I need to develop social skills in order to really thrive (and at this point, just to survive).

My new psychiatrist says I need to suck it up and “fake it til I make it,” going through the motions of pretending to care, making people feel relevant to me, slapping a smile on my face and inviting the office to coffee. I’m not good at faking things. I don’t want to have to fake things in life, mainly because I so deeply value honesty. Plus won’t faking it be unsuccessful in the end anyway? People can sense that there’s something wrong with me. Forcing myself into some normal social mode isn’t going to fully overcome that. I suppose it’s all about timing, lining up my faking it until my meds have me at a place where I can genuinely “make it.”

I bought a book on Kindle called Dealing with People You Can’t Stand: How to Bring Out the Best of People at Their Worst. Before you roll your eyes, know that it’s an international best-seller and so far it doesn’t seem too hokey. I hope it will help me learn better interpersonal skills since my life education until now has had a serious gap in that crucial area.

My cousin also told me about a written meditation exercise that’s supposed to change your mindset through daily repetition of positive lines. You process the lines twice, in your reading of them and your copying of them, so your brain eventually commits them to memory over time, making them seem more natural as they come to the fore in your mind during daily interactions and activities. The lines that were suggested in the exercise are completely hokey to me, but as I percolated on the idea of written meditation, I can see more and more how it may be helpful for me. In college, I would take notes during class and after class, I would neatly recopy them into a new binder so I was reviewing the information while making test preparation easier by ensuring my handwriting was legible and my thoughts were complete. It was incredibly effective.

So I’m putting together my own written meditation lines that will hopefully inject some positivity into my subconscious about the world I live in, my present and future, and myself. I have so many issues with myself. I hope this will help. Every little bit, right? Every little bit.

———-

I’m incredibly selfish when it comes to my fantasies of marriage and my response to others around me fulfilling that dream. I get jealous when other people find the loves of their lives while I still struggle just to love myself, much less to hold onto a lover. And when couples breakup, sometimes I feel relieved, like “Oh, false alarm. They’re single again.” My friend Tara who has had similar struggles with depression (though hers were much worse or at least more physically expressed) recently called off her engagement and my first thought was “Thank god. Tara and I are in this together.” because I feel so fucking behind, so hopeless, when people like me are getting married and I’m not. Will Tara and I ever find men who can handle us, dark sides and all? Can they love us despite our “dark and twisty” natures? Can they commit their lives to us, knowing how hard the path will be to share a life with a depressed person?

And good lord, girl. It’s the 21st Century! WHY THE HELL ARE YOU SO HUNG UP ON EVER AFTER?! Why do I want to be in a healthy relationship so badly? What does that stem from? How does depression fit into it? Is it simply a dream that depression keeps throwing at me just to keep me miserable, knowing that as long as I’m depressed I’m never going to be in a healthy, happy relationship? I feel insane sometimes. The question arises too of why marriage and not just a long life with someone without the politics and tax benefits? Why do I like the symbolism, commitment, and saccharine nature of marriage so much? Why is that a dream of mine?

I don’t know. Honestly. Desperate fear of being alone? Too many Disney movies growing up? Persistence of the history of Western civilization’s insistence that women’s lives should be spent focused on marriage, wifehood, and motherhood?  I don’t know. Sometimes I nauseate myself. But you can’t say I’m not career-focused and independent either, so at least I’m doing something right in the feminist viewpoint.

——-

Trust is such a difficult thing for me. It takes a while to earn my trust and then the second you break it, it takes me forever to forgive and move on. I don’t know the source of that either, but it’s definitely impacted my romantic, friendly, and family relationships.

I toyed today with reaching out to Kristi, trying to mend that bridge. I feel like she should be the one reaching out to me, since she’s the one who fucked up so royally, but I know I can be a hard person to approach. I don’t know if she wants to make up either, since she has her own life and plenty of other friends. She doesn’t really need the Alexa Ice Queen back on the scene. And I’m not sure I’m ready to forgive her either, or ready to put up with her constant whining about her life. I know I whine about my life a lot, but I try like hell to fix it, to change things, to do something new. She just complains and does nothing; it’s almost like she likes feeling miserable or maybe just likes having something to blame her misery on so she doesn’t have to deal with the real issues. Am I judging? Probably. I don’t have Mark’s solid moral compass to keep me on track anymore.

Mark says we’re too different to work. I guess he’s right, but more and more I reflect on how beneficial our differences were. He’s my opposite in many ways but especially socially. He is interested in people, he knows how to talk to strangers without seeming awkward or threatening. People adore him and he hardly does anything beyond simply being himself. He’s incredibly kind and accepting (though he wasn’t always accepting of me or my flaws, casting judgments that truly hurt me). I think most of our conflict came out of me being so different, being the shadow to his sunshine, being a black hole of negativity to his star of positivity. I know I made him feel unimportant, but again, it wasn’t my intention. My depression is severe and affects the way I interact with the world in so many ways, many of which I’m probably unaware of. I really shouldn’t be going back down this serpentine road of regret and confusion, dissecting the ways our relationship succeeded and failed, and what I feel I should have (though likely could not have) done differently. We are very different but for me, that was a big plus because I could learn these foreign skills, these necessary interpersonal and social skills, just by watching him, listening to him, talking to him.

I think my brain is so constantly preoccupied with a hundred thoughts going hundred different directions at a hundred miles an hour that it’s really hard for me to seem anything but disinterested. How can I take on the responsibility of holding a conversation, of maintaining interest, in another human being when a hurricane has been beating my brain since my birth with never a moment’s rest, not even when I sleep. My brain is always On, always demanding most if not all of my attention, so it’s exhausting to me to try to engage with another person, to try to spare some brain waves to shoot Interest and Sincerity in their direction.

Am I making excuses? Can I really scribble “DEPRESSION” over my every flaw and failure? Is depression really to blame?

I’m trying to keep hope alive that treatment will eventually begin to work properly but my biggest fear is that these things aren’t a result of depression, they’re who I am and they’re something that I simply cannot change.

I fear I am an awful person. Difficult, demanding, dismissive. I don’t want to be those things. I’ve never wanted to be those things. Those things don’t add up to a happy life. Those things don’t add up to a life of love and laughter.

Those things add up to being alone.

Alone with the person I dislike the most:

Myself.

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§ One Response to My Head’s a Mess

  • ianlhayes says:

    You’ve made an incredible amount of progress in a very short period of time. This post has some of the clearest perspective I’ve seen on your blog in a while, and that’s a good sign.

    Here are some things to think about:

    You’re right to think that depression contributes strongly to self-sabotage, but it goes deeper than that. Depression is like a weed in the garden of your mind and the roots run deep. The sabotage and social dysfunctions grow out of the surface, but underneath there is a hidden network of preferences, priorities, and desires that are just as caustic.

    It’s also been influencing your thought for a long time. I can trace my depression back to Virginia, when I think really carefully about it. Sometimes I think it started from the trauma of leaving Decatur when we were kids. So I know, at least for me, that it’s been a huge hindrance in my definition of myself for most of my life. My measures of success or failure are rooted in a flawed conception of the world, and only recently have I been able to dig deep and reevaluate some of my firmest convictions.

    Depression is also like an organism with its own instincts for self-preservation. It burrows into your brain and bites your fingers when you try to grab it and pull it out. Depression will resist your attempts to destroy it, and it will fight back with everything it can, from torturous childhood memories of lost pets to aching pangs of regret over former lovers to day-to-day minutiae, like leaving your lunch at home and just hating yourself for it.

    But can be stronger than that. You are a fighter and you are persistent. Once you’re on the other side of this thing, you’ll see the world recreated in *your* image, and you’ll know both exactly what you want and exactly how to get it.

    The hardest part of fighting depression is not knowing it’s there, but you’re past that now. You know it’s there, and you’re getting a pretty clear picture of what it looks like for you. Everyone’s is different, so maybe my experience with depression doesn’t line up exactly with yours, but it’s just a monster, a demon, a baddie.

    And you’re Buffy the mother-fucking Vampire Slayer.

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