Friday, 6 April 2012

On Depression and Other Life Downers

I'm probably going to regret this but I'm past caring.  A few days ago I had thought of writing something much different than I have below, more in the form of a goodbye, but I'm taking steps to prevent that kind of outcome.  So, I'd advise not to read if depression isn't one of the things you believe exists or is a real illness.

I'm writing this as a kind of therapy for myself, something like the way therapists tell people to keep a diary or journal to keep a record of one's thoughts and feelings.  Personally, I've never found it of much use or help, but talking about problems does help, particularly if it's someone you don't know personally and can't judge you directly.  That's if you can actually make yourself do it and recognize there are problems to start with before it gets to be too much.  Sometimes the downward spiral creeps unknowingly beyond the point of self realization and if you don't have family or other support it can be a living nightmare.  Ironically, at times even when there are family or friends in the picture depression can be worse if they don't know how to help or don't want to know. 

I'm not sure where to start and it's not normally something I like to talk about with people I know, let alone publicly and to the world at large.  In reality I know one of the things that lead to some kind of healing, is to talk about it and not keep the darkness screwed down so tight that it affects every part of life.   It's not that easy though.  Depression has a massive stigma attached to it.  Many people disbelieve depression is a real illness and tell you to "just get over it."   Others can be controlling and smothering yet not really understanding, and there are people who shy away from anything even related to mental illness almost as though it may spread like a cold or the flu.  Depression is a genuine mental illness and something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy....if I had any that I know of that is. That's not to say I'm without enemies, more that I have neither friends or enemies because I rarely let people get close enough to me to be one or the other, especially in recent years.  I've often found that when I try to reach out it backfires and I withdraw even more. 

One correction to the above is that I do have two very good online friends who I met several years ago  through PC gaming, which is something that keeps me "sane" besides my very loving, faithful dog.   BTW I'm not comparing them to my  Just thought I should mention that.   We've never met and live on opposite sides of the world, but they have been more supportive to me than anyone in recent years although I try not to project my problems on them.  I do know that's not always the case though.  One of these friends has been constant over that time despite that sometimes we argue and it's usually me that goes off the deep end about something or the other, and the other reconnected recently and I thank them both.  They will know who they are.

I'm a very private person and have never really been very social and ongoing.  If I want someone to know something about me I'll tell them myself, otherwise it's no-one's business but mine, whatever the situation happens to be.  It's not that I'm secretive or devious but more that I don't feel anyone would be interested or more, that anyone would care.  This often leads to more stress and worsening of my depression, (this post is about me, but applies to everyone who suffers) but even knowing this, it's still difficult for me to open up and especially hard to ask for help.   This is partially due to many negative childhood experiences and how they've shaped my life, consciously or subconsciously, it feels like weakness to me to admit to having "issues."   Intellectually I know it's not, but the mind is a powerful thing and can work against the best attempts at self realization.   Another makes me feel weak and powerless to cry in front of anyone, partly because it always leads to questions and also because it's been ingrained in me from childhood.  Without getting into more detail I was told if I cried, for example after being punished for something, I would be given something to really cry about so I quickly learned to keep those feelings inside and take whatever was meted out.  Of course that extended to other aspects of life's hurts and disappointments and relationships.

I'm not going to talk at length about family and upbringing except to say that our family was insular and punishment, deserved or otherwise was the norm rather than expressions of love or caring.  To this day I'm not really sure what love means and how it really feels, but I know what fear, humiliation and anger are.  I will say I have two brothers, both younger, one of whom was treated the same as myself and has as many problems as myself, probably because both of us occasionally rebelled much to our regret.  The other, the youngest, seemed to escape it all by being the "favourite" by being the one who was always the good little boy who told tales on us to gain favour.  If that sounds like I resent him for that, I do, even to this day, because he hasn't changed.  Another irony is that the older brother and myself were the ones who stuck around, even as adults when we had our own lives outside the family home, when the going was tough at home and were always there to help out, yet the younger remained the golden boy even when he was nowhere to be seen or heard and made sure of it.  That wasn't out of fear or avoidance but out of selfishness and lack of compassion due to having escaped what the rest of us went through for reasons I'll never understand.

I don't want to talk about my father except to say he was the perpetrator and cause.  He died years ago, I don't even think about him if I can help it and I still hate him even now, as harsh as that may seem.  Forgiveness is supposed to be another healer, so they say, but it's not something I can do in this instance.   My mother had the best years of her life after he died until she herself finally passed on.  No more beatings, suspicions and mental cruelty. 

In latter years, in fact only the last few really, I've come to the realization that I'm sick of being the one that always gives of my time, resources or emotional support and never, or very rarely do I ask for, or get anything in return.  I don't mean material things as they mean little to me, but I've always only  felt useful as long as I have something someone else wants.  I'm sick of being taken advantage of.  Being assertive doesn't come naturally to me and I've been called passive aggressive because of it.  I can see now how that perception came about and often know it's happening even though I now try harder not to be that way.  It, and other things have caused complications over the years.  Sadly, it's taken over 50 years to get to that realization, and people would more than likely say it's my fault and it probably is to a degree, but sometimes things can be so overwhelming.  I don't expect or want sympathy though, but I hope others who find themselves in a dark place like myself can identify and the people who care about them can gain some understanding.

I've watched some of the self help shows on TV and read a lot of the books and it all seems to be something unattainable or more that I'm undeserving of happiness and that is an obstacle I can't climb over.  One thing they tell you is to learn to love yourself, a concept that's so alien to me it's like a fantasy.  I don't know how to put into words or admit what I feel about myself, but love or liking doesn't come into it.

Anyway, there's more I could say but that would be getting too much in the realm of things I don't wish to share further.  Suffice to say I'm doing something about it before I get to the place I was in ten years or so ago when it could easily have all ended and made easier due to where I worked and my job at the time.  Back then I resigned from my full time job because I knew it was only a matter of time before I took the most drastic step, and it took three years before I could go back to the job I loved.  I just have to wait until the end of the month for that to start because that's the only appointment I could get to see a psychologist where I live.  I do feel some hope though now I've taken that step and actually asked for help.  Today anyway.  Tomorrow's another day.

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