A week ago, I was trying to describe to Rich what it felt like to be depressed. I told him that it felt a lot like driving for a long, long time in the middle of the night and being so exhausted, but being hours from your destination and having no where to stop and take a rest. Or – having a high fever and feeling achy, tired and confused. Add hating yourself to that equation and you’ve got a pretty good picture of it.

Okay, I have never quite hated myself. A lot of self-doubt and negative inner thoughts, but no self-loathing. Underneath it all, I’ve never stopped liking the person I am. That was just a poor attempt at some humor.

Anyway, the meds are definitely kicking in. I no longer feel as clouded in my thoughts, and I can think on things without a sense of helplessness and dread. I can turn off the circle of unproductive thoughts that still try and spin around in my head from time to time. However, I still have some unpleasant symptoms from my medication – I can barely keep my eyes open and after lunch I can’t operate without a nap. My arms still feel all noodle-y. The good news is that the nausea seems to have worn off. I’m hoping that the rest of the symptoms are introductory only and will disappear soon enough.

With less clouded thought, and with the help of counseling and a few frank discussions with loved ones I am starting to gain some constructive self-insight. And with the medication, I have the courage to face it without falling into a vortex of guilt and helplessness.

I have known for quite a while that the biggest thing holding me back as a human being is that I doubt my own social ability. I fear that I am flawed in some way, and if people get to know me deeply, they will see it too and run for the hills. It’s probably why I feel a lot safer with internet friends lately. I’m realizing that while, like anyone, there are some things I certainly need to work on, much of my problem is this negative self-talk that is becoming a self-fulfilled prophecy. I think I’m different, don’t handle social situations well, say exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time, want so desperately to help people and have the best of intentions but sometimes hurt them instead because I don’t have the skills to handle myself gracefully.

So, with all this spinning around in my head all the time, I over-compensate by trying too hard, sharing too much. Or I have so much fear that to others it looks like I don’t want to get to know them at all. Or I try and look overly confident or competent. Or I hold myself back from people so I don’t hurt them or myself. Or I say I must find people exactly like me, as they are the only people who would truly understand me. Or I talk about myself more than I should because it is more comfortable than dealing with others’ feelings that I assume are negative. All this scares people away, or makes them think that I am not interested in them, and they pull back. I see that as proof of my own flaws and proof that when people really get to know me, they don’t like me very much.

(Wow. I’m pretty messed up.)

Anyway, how do I break this cycle? That’s the next step. My current task in therapy is to be more frank with people when I hear those self-doubts starting to creep into my head. Doing this, hopefully, will show me that most of my assumptions about others’ thoughts about me are wrong. For instance – if a friend seems distant with me, I need to say, “I’m sensing some distance from you right now. In my head, I’m thinking it’s because I said something or did something wrong and am assuming it is x that I said last week. Is that right?” And hopefully they will correct me.

This all sounds well and good, but I worry. Of course. I worry that I won’t be able to say those words without sounding like a social buffoon (there’s that voice again). The words will come out all wrong and I’ll just look pathetic or ridiculous, or hurt someone with them. Will words like that turn people off, or show my insecurities? It all sounds so easy when my therapist says it, but she’s polished and the words come easy for her.

On the upside, I can see how much this work could help me. If I can get past these thoughts, I’ll be a better wife, mother, friend, daughter, sister, doula. It will help me infinitely in all my relationships. And I’ll be unstoppable.

But no one said this wasn’t going to be a lot of work.

(More upbeat, off-the-depression-topic post soon, I promise.)


4 Responses to “Perspective”

  1. 1 Dan November 1, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    That sounded pretty upbeat to me. You have hope for a better future and a map of what you want to do to reach it. Sounds positive to me.

  2. 2 Lj November 2, 2007 at 3:32 am

    Well done for moving forward. It is good to be able to be here for you. Take care of yourself. XO

  3. 4 leighsteele November 3, 2007 at 12:53 am

    I am still in awe over your bold ability to dig deep inside yourself. And to share it with others.
    As a wise friend once told me, sometimes you are the “in-breath” or the inhalation. You feel stifled, stuff, unable to breath. But soon, you will be the “out-breath”, releasing everything you’ve held. It takes time. But it will come.
    Keep questioning and digging – in this way, you will discover your most authentic self. I have a feeling you’ll really love her.
    I think we all relate to the idea of being scared as to what people will think of us. It’s why we wear so many masks. But, in order to full know that authetic self – and showcase her to others – we begin the process of removing the masks.
    You can do it.
    In your own time.

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