Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Back to Hell, Demon!

I was observed recently as being...inconsistent...between who I appear to be and who I am. It's a fair observation given by one of the slight handful of people in the world who know the real me, and 100% true in the context of the conversation. This post will likely be long and self-indulgent attempt to reconcile a few of the inconsistencies with bare, painful truth. Feel free to stop reading this and go back to a funny post here.

I AM inconsistent: I present a certain face with certain qualities I admire to the world: strength, self-confidence, surety, humor...all the qualities I think are valued by others. All the things I'd like to be all the time. On rare occasions when I'm feeling particularly good I AM the way I present. On those days I'm funny, clever, happy with myself and my accomplishments so far and enthusiastically passionate about life. In all honesty, those days are treasured rarities in my universe that I'm trying to learn to allow more often. I'd prefer they be the norm, after all.
Most of the time I use my public face as a combination of shield and bolster. It's actually fairly exhausting. Emotional energy is a well, and eventually that well runs low, the flow becomes silty and clogged, and I slow down. I am a person who refreshes the well with periods of relaxing alone-time (books, Lifetime TV, walks, repeated viewings of Gladiator...you know, silly mindless things) not by being with others. I'm actually pretty envious of all you folk who get energized and excited about parties and social situations. I NEED that bit of time every week to sustain. 

The real person underneath is...sigh...well hidden. This causes an issue if I let anyone in past a certain point, because ultimately that person discovers I've been untruthful about who I really am all along, and that's probably unfair. How can I be enough and loved just as I am if you can't see what I REALLY am until it's too late? Ah, conundrums that feed the demons.

It's something I've been working on for a long time, actually, when I have enough in my emotional well to work on myself. Sometimes, the well just fucking dries up. I've worked on myself enough to USUALLY be able to head the bastard off at the pass before he weasels his way into my brain like a fucking Khan earworm. Sometimes I fail.

Today I've failed. Since it's the Holidays and that's likely a part of the depression heavily holding me down, I envision it as this:

Holiday cheer my ASS. I'm coming for you...

Last night the same someone said "I wish I could go back and find the bastard(s) who made you feel so worthless and ..." well, the graphically violent nature of the comment probably doesn't need to be repeated. It was one of those things most people would likely be horrified and offended by, but was an utterly sweet thing to say to me.

I know where my self-loathing comes from. I know where the unworthiness comes from. I also know the reason I'm still here after those feelings hit me in wave after wave is something my dad said to me once when I was really young: suicide is the most selfish thing you can do to those who love you. All the bullying, all the nastiness, all the isolation that fed my genetic pre-disposition to depression is tempered by that statement, because I've always been more concerned with others' feelings than my own. It's another point of contention between me and the few insiders who know me best (I don't take care of myself if someone else needs me, which is stupid and harmful). My point is: I'm not in suicidal danger. I'm just not taking sufficient care of myself to avoid the hit right now.

The Bloggess posts often about depression, how it lies and how hard it is to live with repeated bouts. I so utterly agree, but I don't have any answers about how to successfully beat the bastard down either. Knowing WHY he arrives doesn't always give me enough to defeat him. The past few months have been so utterly emotionally exhausting I haven't been able to refill my well, which left me open to that sneaky bastard. And so I force myself to get out of bed and drive to work and hope I can stop any pressing tears (yeah, Scandahoovians don't cry without red, splotchy faces and puffy eyes) and bury myself in work for the day.   Only today is a no-meeting-not-much-to-do day and the conversation I had last night was intense enough that I can't push it aside until I'm home. Today, I'm trying to STOP thinking about all the evil lying shit depression says in my head and concentrate on rediscovering what makes me feel valuable, worthy, fulfilled, passionate and happy.  

My friend Superbetsy sent me this about depression today: The bloggess calls depression a lying bastard. When it tries to take me down, I lie right back to it. I put on a shit ton of makeup and sing loudly and look at pictures of puppies. If it can tell us falsehoods, we can do the same. BECAUSE IM A GREAT SINGER, DAMMIT!

This post isn't any sort of request for validation, compliments, or anything of the sort. I've written about this many times before privately and it's done nothing: maybe taking the risk of putting it out here will make some difference in my heart. If not, at least any reader also battling that bastard will know they're not alone in the fight.

6 comments:

  1. I have no advice. But I can say: I am listening.

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  2. Anonymous4:51 PM

    It's good to know the bastard visits other people sometimes. At times, I think he only lives with me. I also have a genetic predispositon and for decades I fought against it and sometimes actually won. But, then came the time that it sank over me like a heavy wet quilt - cold, clinging. There was no fighting for me. It pummeled me as hard as it could and all I could do was lay in bed and pray for sleep. Or unconsiousness. But, never death. Thankfully I was spared that horror because suicide really is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. But, living like this was hell and I did have to go to work even with the red eyes, splotchy face and Rudolph nose. I finally went to the doctor and, between sobs, told him I was pretty sure I was nuts. He prescribed an anti-depressant and it was truly like a miracle. Within 2 weeks I felt so much better and the happy face I always wore matched what I felt inside a lot more. Because I'm the classic seratonin fucked up brain connections girl. If I had diabetes, would I refuse insulin? When I have a cold, do I just tough it out and let my fever rage without tylenol? Hell no! Paxil is my best friend and I ain't ashamed to say it! It's not a magic bullet - there are days when the bastard rears its head. But, I can fight now. I have a chance and I know I can beat it back into submission. Mental illness is one of the last taboos and affects many more people that most of us would believe. You're never alone, Jess. Explore all avenues and don't let the bastard win!!! Never stop fighting. Never stop loving yourself.

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  3. My heart weeps for you. Depression is hideous. I've battled it my entire life and I'm so sorry that it is plaguing you. I'm here if you ever need to talk it out. In the hope my life lessons can help you, I strongly urge you to seek medical assistance from a depression knowledgeable physician. There is NO point in suffering. Chronic clinical depression is a true disease that often requires medication to control brain chemicals. Honestly, trying to get better without anti-depression meds is kinda like doing CPR in the water with a drowning victim. Your own body chemistry can be working against any attempts at positive change you are trying to make. I truly believe the root of all depression is pain/hurt masquerading as anger that we don't express but rather turn into self loathing/hatred. It has helped me immensely over the years to identify what or whom I am really angry about and validate those feelings and my right to have them. Then the gloom starts to lift and I am able to address the real issue in a healthy manner. The world and the people in it often disappoint us. We get hurt and angry. This is okay. I've learned to embrace anger, where once I was terrified of it. I believe 'anger' is a survival instinct for our emotions if we respect it as such. For me being able to identify my pain/anger allowed me to be more honest with myself and the world. It is not fun or easy to live your life divided, 'the public face vs. the private face'. I had to learn to accept that truly I was both faces/people even when it seems contradictory and I was lovable regardless. Anger can be your friend and help you slay the bastard. I'm not saying start raging at others. I'm saying you have a right to be angry about the cards life has dealt you recently. And I'm saying it is okay to be totally selfish and immature and throw a tantrum. The world will survive it. No one is perfect, flaws make us more interesting and compassionate. Anger can be passion to change. I sincerely hope I have expressed my insight to depression in a way that can be of use to you. I care about you! Please feel free to call or write me anytime if I can be there for you. My anger over you suffering from depression lead me to reach out to you and expose my secret life of depression. That's a good thing! I'll be holding you tight in my heart til I hear you feel better. Love you.

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  4. This was a great post, Jess. I've dealt with depression and anxiety since I was a teenager. I've been told so many times to just "get over it." You know, the same way you tell someone to "get over" a broken arm or a death in the family, right?

    I'm new to your blog and I look forward to reading more. As for the lying bastard, you're definitely not alone in battling that jerk!

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  5. Hey, if you kick your liar's ass, want to come over an kick mine?

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  6. Sing it Sister! Put on your high heeled shoes and push up bra, and Sing!

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Unload your brainpan, but please prove you're not a Russian spam-bot. Or Skynet. I don't want the T1000 after me.