What’s on my mind, Facebook? The truth is, I’m feeling pretty low. I’m not going to post ambiguous statements and memes alluding to this fact. As much as I don’t care for peoples’ posts that track their every movement or announce their latest battle with someone, there does come a point when it is essential to be honest about feelings, state of mind, and the things in our lives that we hold dear. This world has become pretty social-media dependent. No, it doesn’t really pass for the reality of one’s day-to-day life, but for many, it is an essential link to the outside world. I am one of those people, not by choice, but by necessity. I don’t like to be out in public. I quake with fear and shudder with revulsion. It makes me sick to my stomach to know that if I go out, I might have to make eye contact or talk to someone. If you see me walking, you see me with my head down. I count my steps. It keeps me from having to do those things. I can escape that fear on social media, and it is a necessary tether to the outside world. I deem it necessary because I fight demons every single day in the form of Major Depressive Disorder with Severe Panic Disorder.
I could list those without capital letters, but the truth is, they are such a constant part of my life that they need those caps. I’m not proud to say that I have these diseases – and trust me, they are diseases in that they invade every aspect of my life and have made it difficult to even HAVE a life – and if I could somehow make them disappear, I would. There is so much shame involved, no matter how many people support me and cheer on my efforts to overcome them. I have run the gamut of treatments, from drug therapy to counseling, and back to drug therapy again. Self-help books. Daily affirmations. You name it. Except for short periods following the end of my first marriage and then again when I underwent a hysterectomy, I had never been medicated until nearly 2 years ago, when the urge to lay down and die battled with my inability to stop trembling in terror uncontrollably every single morning.
You may ask, “Why would you want to lay down and die? What the hell do you have to be afraid of?” The truth is, I don’t have answers to those questions. Yes, I have family and they love me. Yes, I have a small band of really good friends who know me and still like me. Yes, I have intelligence and creativity and interests that could keep me constantly busy if I lined them up back-to-back. I feel blessed and fortunate and very lucky to have my life. I know that things could be so much worse. Why are those things not enough? The fact is, I don’t know. Events of the past shaped me into the person I am today, and no amount of therapy or self-help can change that fact. That I choose to soldier on despite the past’s efforts to destroy me is a testament to how badly I want to continue to go on living, to make the most of each day, to smile and to love and to feel.
I have done stupid things. All my life, I have made wrong decisions based on a crucial moment, a circumstance, and sometimes, just because I was filled with such self-loathing that I figured, “Who gives a fuck?” I acted and reacted to situations based upon the words drilled into my brain from a very young age.
You were a mistake.
I regret that you were born.
You ruined everything in my life.
You mother should have aborted you.
I should have made her.
I can still make her get rid of you.
Hard words to overcome. I did overcome, and I didn’t. Those words took a small, newly-formed child and twisted her into a scared, angry, sad, self-destructive shell of a human being who hid herself away behind her intelligence, sarcasm, and a seeming disdain for everyone and everything around her. Those who got in were still relegated to an outer wall INSIDE the other outer walls. When the people who were supposed to love you unconditionally don’t, who the hell is left who can? Every now and then, I would meet someone who seemed to possess the key to unlocking me from my self-preserving exile, but invariably they would either disappoint or I would come to my senses and change the locks. I didn’t want to, because it is so achingly cold and lonely inside, but I felt I had to. There is no sense in protesting, “But none of this was your fault” because I know that already. My head knows that and my heart has ached and I have cried countless tears. I have attempted to never, ever make the mistakes those who hurt me did. I have lain my heart out bare to those who I love. That’s not an easy thing to do. Because it’s delicate tissue and it can be destroyed very easily. There will come a day, if I am not careful, when it will either decompose or simply turn to stone. I fear that. And I welcome it. Because without a heart, I won’t have to feel. Without a heart, I can continue going through the motions that make up my closeted life without the pretense of feeling anything.
Why am I putting these dark thoughts to paper, so to speak? It’s simple: they are eating me alive. They must be put out to pasture. I must set them free before they do the damage they want to, and then this fucking Depression wins. This Fear wins. I have to be honest with myself and those around me. I am not okay. I am lying to you when I say that I am happy, that nothing’s wrong, that life is good. They should be true. They need to be true. But they are not and it’s because something misfires in my brain and always has and without a heavy cloud of drugs to blanket me and put the demons into a coma, it always will. I hate the drugs. I stop taking them from time to time, just to allow some light in. This has been one of those times, and it was again a big mistake. When you return to feeling after being gone for a while, every emotion is magnified and unbearable. It doesn’t feel safe sometimes. This is one of those times. So I am giving my darkness wings and returning to my safety blanket of dullness, and a doctor visit will be necessary so that I can confess that I haven’t got a lid on this and yes, she was right.
In the past few months, our community has lost some young people to heroine addiction. Too young, in their early 20s, with their whole lives ahead of them. They join an endless list of victims who couldn’t get the monkey off their backs, who struggled and lost to a terrible disease that has been at epidemic proportions for too long. Depression is like heroin. It robs a person of their strength, their dignity, their joy. Depression is a drowning cushion of sadness and, like a heroin high, when you’re in it, you don’t care about anything else. I don’t want it to win. And so, if I seem to disappear right before your eyes, it’s only because I am doing the hard work of living. My goal is to put my monkey back into the deep forestation of jungle, where it belongs. And then to run, fast and far, and pray that it doesn’t follow. If you’ve taken the time to read this, thank you. But please don’t feel sorry for me. Just be there for me, and recognize that this was an act of courage for me.