Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Not even sure if I should post this, but I will anyway. At least it's not on Facebook.

I came out of my usual evening visit into my head space wanting to write this on my FB status page:
I'm alive, dammit.
Dammit, I'm alive.
Alive, dammit, I am.
I thought to write it and post it as a public thing, but then I decided against it. My eyes usually glaze over such declarations when I see other people do it on their timelines, especially when they come from friends who have a history of never following through with their declarations (though, thankfully, not a single one of my friends have written anything as dire). And I didn't want people who got the hint to be alarmed, or at least come to some conclusion without hearing me out. Social media has never been a good place for affirmations from the point of view of the clinically depressed. Which, I guess, why instead of actively engaging in the revelry I do the bare minimum of engagement and post pictures. That said, I wish I was like the majority of people there and was able to enjoy the party without feeling isolated and lonely and cast out and neglected, and etc., etc., etc.

That last bit is the kind of head space that I visit on a daily basis. It's one that's easy to get into once head to YouTube on my browser, as my mind shuts off as my eyes and ears are actively engaged to some semi-educational bit on SciShow. And it sinks even deeper once my taste and olfactory senses are engaged by the semi-regular order of pesto chicken pizza. And it gets into the darkest portions when my tactile senses are ravaged by the fire of open psoriasis lesions.

And what happens in that head space, at any depth, is somewhat mundane to me. I get the usual flashes of S-ideations: scenes where I meet some quiet end in the woods or in a bathtub or out in the desert. Then follows the catharsis as that scene plays through my head. Mostly, it's relief from the promise of being free from the pain of living. But, sometimes, it's an affirmation from a very familiar part of my psyche that says "you should probably do it, you know nobody's going to care after a few years anyway." And that affirmation feels really good because, for a long time now, I'm convinced that's exactly how it is. And hearing something that I believe to be true, even if it's a self-destructive believe, just feel fucking wonderful. It doesn't matter if someone is kind enough to tell me otherwise, because I'm very good at taking their kind words and rationalizing a way to disregard them. I'll do anything to preserve my way of thinking because it feels that damn good. I even feel like I'm willing to die for it (though at this moment, that has a certainty of about 12%, maybe 11%... my rational brain is in control right now).

I've conditioned myself to feel like I don't matter. I add on to the mythos when I stutter in conversation, stare blankly at a story I have to write for my group or my class, when I yell at co-workers in frustration, when I watch my weight rise above 230 lbs... again. At their face, these things don't seem to equate to proof that I don't matter, but to me they're examples of how I've failed to reach some potential that I should have achieved years ago. The fact that I'm still hitting these barriers after five, ten, fifteen years pushes me to a conclusion that I really don't want to make: that this is all that I could do in this life.

And I don't want to be content with my current station in life. I want to move beyond where I'm at and do something that I find more fulfilling. Unfortunately, that beyond is in the arts, and it doesn't pay the bills - especially my bitchin' psoriasis meds that I literally need to keep on living because lord knows if I want to live if I lose that (which I am actually at risk of). I don't know how I'm going to freaking deal with not sleeping for days at a time while itchy and open lesions are ruining 70% of my body.

Ahem. Which brings me back to the declaration that I wanted to post but didn't...

Even after all of that thinking, I get out of that head space and choose to go on. I've read some literature on depression that has encouraged to treat this choice as a heroic one. I don't feel like it is. Part of it might have to do with the fact that this choice is a regular one and maybe I've been desensitized to the point where I believe it's a so-so choice (much like those ideations that I presented as "mundane" earlier). Part of it is because that I know there are people who are suffering far worse than I am, and that the energy I'm spending worrying about my problems can be spent on a thought or a donation to those who need it. But even though I don't feel like it's a choice worth noting, I still had the urge to note it, on Facebook, to anyone who would hear it.

And yet I chose not to note it there.

Five years ago, a friend of mine killed himself. He wasn't a close friend before he died - he was just a guy I met at writing workshop. At the time, I was three months into SSRI withdrawls because of a snafu with my health insurance (my employer neglected to pay it) and was starting to form the suicide ideations that have now come to occupy my life. Another friend of mine from the workshop, who had taken his death very hard, wanted to talk to me about it, and so we spent some time outside of the Irvine Spectrum parking lot.

Now, my memory of this is a little hazy, which I totally blame on quitting anti-depressants cold turkey, but here's what I remember:

  • She invited me to a gathering of our other workshop friends to grieve over this loss, I declined. 
  • We talked about his suicide note, that she read it, understood it, sympathized with him - she asked me to read it, I declined, telling her that I'm pretty sure what the note would say. 
  • I said something to the effect of "nobody gives you a medal for living." That made her mad. She told me that I was inconsiderate of her feelings.
This is what I recall happened, and when you remove my internal thoughts from it, it makes me look like a terrible asshole. And, considering the conversations she's had with others in the workshop, it seems like that's the label I'm saddled with. But I had my reasons:
  • I declined to go to the gathering because I was in a terrible mental state. I didn't want to go there thinking "all of these people didn't think about him until he killed himself. Maybe he had the right idea." I recognize that THAT statement is very disrespectful, but in my depressed mind, that wasn't an insult - that was a permission... I didn't want to give myself permission to end myself yet.
  • I declined to read the note because I didn't want his words to convince me that suicide was the only way out of his position. If I did, then, I feared, it would only take a few more leaps in logic to convince myself that ending it is the only way.
  • I think the last statement I made was insulting because of what happened at the previous two points. I knew she was trying to reach out to me, to grieve with me, but I was resisting. I can understand how that can look to her and everyone else at that workshop, that I'm a jerk. But I still stand by that statement. 
I needed to say that nobody gives you a medal for living because it's true and I needed to hear myself say that. I've spent my entire life trying to seek validation for my existence: from my parents, my teachers, my girlfriends and my peers. That was the only reason why I kept on living, up until the point where all that validation went away, which was inevitable - I'm an adult now, I should find my own reason to live. But it's hard to find your own reason to live when you've been conditioned to think that you have to live for others. But I tried, and all of that trying has culminated in affirmations such as the one I said last night. And as bleak as it seems at face value, to me it's an assurance that I have to pat myself on the back for choosing to live, because the world sure as hell won't.

And so that's how the statement that I needed to say to stay alive also happened to be the one that insulted my grieving friend. I didn't think it would insult her as, at the time, it was a revelatory statement that brought me back to a normal head space after thinking about suicide throughout that conversation. But, I hurt her just the same, and I fucking hate myself for it.

So, I learned not to express terse thoughts like the ones in the beginning, at least when it comes to something I want to take seriously. I don't want to cause any trouble because I could see how bad it can get. So, I won't. Even if it kills me.

Which is why I'm glad I can hash it out long form on this blog. Thank goodness for that!


Brian Henne said...

Damn. That's raw. I love it. I like the flow, and the pacing. The Honesty there is great. It makes me want to write again. Oh damn, look what I'm doing!

I think, well, I'd like to think I make my own validation. I've gone through a massive transformation, as you know, and I've tried to break my conditioning. I think it's like depression, or addiction though in that it's a constant battle, but the war...war never changes.

Karina said...

i can relate to your feelings of not being happy where you are and not feeling fulfilled. i like the children i work with, but i do not feel fulfilled and happy like i do when i would write.
i'm sorry about your psoriasis, it sounds terribly uncomfortable. i've never experienced something like that. i have had a child who has severe eczema. i feel her pain everytime i see her dig her nails into her red patches on her skin, and then see some blood. she had trouble napping as she would always be rubbing her wrists or back of her feet against the rough carpet next to her bed. i'd have to take her to the bathroom and giver her arms and legs a rub down with a special lotion her mom brought in for her to use when she was itchy. then where her skin was bleeding from a red patch id put on a band aid and somehow that made it better for her. i can only imagine how you feel.

i know this post wasn't about your psoriasis, but that part stood out to me. i'm sorry i have nothing to say about depression, other than i hope that is something we can get out of. there are a lot of people who don't understand, and those that do we probably push away. all we do is put on a happy face for them, and go on. hoping it will go away, or wishing it to diminish is not enough. it's less than nothing. i just have nothing to say about that.