Masking Tendencies

It’s curious to be an introvert and depressed.  I’m sure there are many who think these two simply go hand in hand with each other.  From my point of view, it does seem more likely for introverts to be depressed than extroverts, of course that’s certainly not how mental illnesses work.

I digress.

As an introvert, I get my energy, my.. motivational/action energy, one might say, from being alone.  It is often wearing to be out in public, surrounded by other people.  Better to say, it is always wearing to be out in public, and, for myself, it is often a trial as well.

At the same time, as someone who has moderate to severe depression, if I don’t go out, if I do simply stay home, my affliction swiftly amplifies.  I must go out to help balance my depression; I must be alone to re-charge.  Dichotomy.

For my mental health, I have become involved in a few groups so that every day I have a way to connect with others and, generally, the meetings max out at a few hours, thus [supposedly] providing the opportunity to also go home and recharge directly afterwards.

What I’ve noticed as of late is an increase in my general level of depression as well as a near constant weariness or fatigue.  It’s so frustrating to have these feelings again, to have so much hopelessness when I have both tools and skills to offset–or at least hold at bay–depression.

After several weeks, after the definitive increase of depression, after being unable to truly rest, after becoming more and more exhausted by each passing day, after talking around the edge of this with my therapist, finally it occurs to me that I have returned to wearing masks.

I’m trying to live up to expectations that other people most likely don’t even have for me.  I’m trying to focus only on helping others, of being optimistic for others, of trying to fix things for others.  I am hiding me beneath this need to make other people happy at the cost of my own peace and happiness.

I am hiding from the world.

I am hiding from myself.

Taste of the Disgustingly Familiar

The interesting thing about panic is the way you are physically incapable of thinking.  Friends will say, “Why don’t you just…..?”

On the surface, these suggestions are simple things.  Obvious, even.  When you want to go outside, you just… go outside, right?

When I am in crisis–as my therapy has termed such times–the simplicity of ‘go outside’ is broken into this overwhelming construct of shoulds, needs, have to, fear, anxiety, anger, disappointment.  All of these negative things are focused inward, razor blades I’m using to cut up my self-esteem, motivation, drive, creativity, desire, hope, life.

Just do it.  It’s one simple thing.  Why can’t you do this one thing? You’re so useless.  Your friend could do this. Your sister did this just fine and she had six other terrible things going on at the same time. You’re lazy.  Stupid. Worthless. You can’t do anything right. You can’t even do anything at all. This is why no one likes you. You are unloveable. No one cares about you. You should just disappear. You deserve to die. You’re a waste of space, messing up everyone around you.

Each negative thought feeds upon the one before, and it feels so impossible to stop the avalanche, much less pull yourself to safety.

Biologically, you really can’t think.  When your anxiety kicks in, your body goes into fight or flight mode, all of your blood is rushing to the places to help your survive.  That’s your heart, your lungs, and the primal parts of your brain. Not your higher cognitive functions.

So when your friend says, “Just go outside”, you hear nothing but gibberish.  You know the words mean something, you know that it’s a simple fix, but you can’t get your mind to tell you what the first step is.  You can’t think to walk to the door, you can’t think to put your hand on the knob, to turn it.  You can’t even remember how to walk, how to take even that first step.

You are filled with guilt, with fear, with anger at yourself.  You don’t get angry at your friend for making it sound like it should be so easy… though you may want to.  You don’t get angry at the world that tells you how weak you are for not having it all together, for doing it wrong.  You don’t get angry at your family who have spent your whole life telling you to suck it up and pretend that you’re okay, don’t let others know how broken you are.

No.  You are angry at yourself, you hate yourself, because you see yourself as useless, worthless, powerless.

Travellers.  My dear friends.  You are not useless. Your purpose may not be something showy or obvious. Your existence touches those around you, even complete strangers.  I enjoy watching people and sometimes the very best part of my day is the way someone’s hair flows in the wind, or the smile on an unknown face, or the contemplative silence across the cafe.

You are not worthless.  You are beautiful and worthy.  You deserve love. You deserve joy. You deserve happiness, and smiles, and good things.  Nothing you do could remove the fact that you are a person.  No matter what you do, you do not deserve terrible things.  You did not deserve for that awful thing to happen to you.  You didn’t invite it. You didn’t cause it.

And you are not powerless.  There are many things out of your control.  That’s true of everyone.  You can make small changes.  And, no matter what anyone else says, you are in control of yourself.  Your mind. Your heart. Who you are.  Even if you cannot decide where you live, your job, what you eat, you own the power of who you are.

The path does not decide what sort of journey you are on.  Travellers, we choose what we will learn from each step.

The Question In My Sanity

As I spoke with my therapist this last week, I was suddenly confronted with a “Truth”.  This cannot, by my pointed use of quotations marks, be considered any sort of truth, capitalised or not.  At least not without some serious contemplation first.  And now that the last few sentences have been rife with C-words, I shall continue.

Last week I wrote of my struggle with whether I write towards profit or if I write towards meaning.  In my mind, these are exclusive to each other.  And yet I’ve been going to therapy for the better part of a year (two?) to learn the opposite of that.  The dialetic exists regardless; I should be willing to accept it.  Doubt the default, as it were.

In the fore of my mind, I know this dialetic to be true, that they can both be at once and in the same way.  Yet in my gut, it feels so false.  Part of this, I’m certain is simply training.  When you talk of being a writer, no one says that you can write meaningful things and sell it.  The message over and over again is that you either write trash to sell to the masses or you write what you want to write and hope to gather a niche (implied: very small) audience.

Yet the contemporary authors I admire have not fallen prey to this “Rule of Writing”.  John Green is, I feel, the perfect example of this.  He wrote meaningful books, that touched deep inside of his readers and has become a lovely success with these same stories.

As far as I can tell, I do not seek fame.  I do not seek riches untold. I suppose I seek recognition for my craft, but, more than that…  More than that… The works I most admire, the ones to which I aspire, are those that transported me.  They are esoteric and weird, they make just as much nonsense as sense.

I want to be seen for who and what I am, this peculiar creature characterised by fantastical ideas and ideals, and I want others to see that beautiful, hidden part of themselves reflected back to them.  Meaning within our own madnesses.

Traveller, validity is not defined merely by its clarity.  Each complicated knot within your breast creates another piece of your own beautiful puzzle.  Walk your path for it belongs solely to you.