Archive for December, 2013

Self-destruction drive

Posted in health, mental health, personal with tags , , , , , on December 17, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher

Something I have great trouble with when I´m in this depressive, masochistic mindset described yesterday is that I´m having a hard time keeping the rules I made up for my own protection, that is: To not read anything that could trigger more rage and humiliation or increase my inner tension.

About two and a half months ago I stopped reading that one psychotherapy forum I was definitely too invested in emotionally. I´d spent too much time being angry at the people there, or feeling sorry for some obvious victims of therapy and trying to formulate my answers in a way that kept me out of fights while getting my point across. Aside from the aspect of time-wasting, though, most importantly I wanted to remove myself from those peoples´ voices and opinions. I was hoping that my new real life duties and the study of science would speed up that recovery. Maybe even allow for my previous ability to think rationally to return. Instead, however, I became depressed.

I always have withdrawal symptoms when I´m online – the Internet seems boring, something seems to be missing, I don´t have any place to visit. For a while I could replace it with the NaNoWriMo forums, but that´s pretty much over now (and besides, some stuff on there made me angry, too). This kind of drama addiction really runs deep. I still feel like I was pulled away from a fight I needed to win, or from a puzzle I needed to solve, and at times I rebel against it on the inside.

On really depressed days, however, I don´t want to return in order to finally prove all my thoughts right; I want to return in order to get myself hurt. I want to read things that trigger me in the hope that finally something inside of me will break and that rock-bottom humility, that icky moral masochism will take me over and not go away again, no matter what happens.

When you support an inconsistent football team as a fairly new fan, you might find yourself always  wavering between extremes. When your team wins, you think everything is looking up, everything is going to be okay, you´re never going to lose again. When your team loses, you are convinced that you´re going to get relegated, or at least that you´re permanently a mid-table team and that all your wins were down to good luck or bad opposition.  I feel like I´m a little bit like that, and that´s exhausting. Instead of aiming to not let defeats drag me down so much, I aim for not rising so high when I win. Maybe that makes sense, it might be more economic, who knows. (But then again, is it, really? Constantly having to suppress happy thoughts and visions of success? Getting OCDish about it and knocking on wood every time I have one? That´s annoying and destracting.)

But there is more to the urge to make myself miserable. To some extent it is just very morbid curiosity. When I´m depressed I feel both more ill and more sane. I feel like I finally have the opportunity to get intimate with what I´m running from when I´m not depressed. I kind of hope that this way I don´t have to be afraid anymore in the future, that I will be free. But I´ve shown yesterday how this is an illusion, how my demons will always and forever pin the fault on me. If it doesn´t shatter me, if it doesn´t change me, I´m doing it wrong. Still, I just haven´t given up on the possibility that I could free myself if only I could make myself agree with every accusation and then see how long it really stings. If it wasn´t for that other part of me that says: “But if those accusations don´t demoralize you anymore, have you gained inner strength or have you lost your morals?”, I might just do it.

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Appeasement

Posted in health, mental health, personal with tags , , , , , on December 17, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher

Today was a very bad day depression-wise. On days like these I have this vague feeling that it should be allowed to officially distance yourself from the person you are. To say: “I acknowledge that I am a horrible, useless person and I want nothing to do with myself. Please hold that in my favor while you exorcise that person.”

The triggers for this were as trivial as it gets. Last night I whined to my mother about how difficult studying is and how I hate all my fellow students, from which I woke up feeling pathetic; and then I realized that I´m broke again, one week before Christmas, with zero presents bought. It´s not that much of a desaster, I have some money put aside which I can access easily and I´ll probably get some for Christmas, too, so I will neither have to starve nor tell my parents. It still sucks, though, because a) I´ve proven once again that I´m incapable of managing my finances and b) I´ll have to run around like a penitent for the rest of the month questioning every bloody chocolate bar I buy. Maybe part b) is actually worse.

I´m trying humour, and I´m trying hard work. Studying helps, but underneath my almost manic behavior is a steadily deepening abyss of horror. Maybe it has to do with the penitent role my depression forces me into currently. I´m play-acting that I´ve learned something from this, or that I´ve changed in some way, that I´m now the kind of person who studies hard and forgets about how pissed off she is that other students appear to have an easier time, but this is just a perversion of my real feelings. In fact, I am so crushed, frustrated and tense that I have no idea where to go from there. This moral masochism is the only way I can move into any direction; and while I´m really trying to feel what it suggests to me, I know that as soon as I feel better again, it will pass.

I feel very anxious about happy thoughts right now. To think, for example, that I can drop the act if I pass my upcoming exam, even seems to jinx me. I don´t deserve it, both morally and judging from what I learned yet (but mostly morally), it would be better for me if I failed it because if I pass that would allow me to still think of myself as superior to the other students, and therefore, I must make a pledge to stay in this masochistic mindset even if I pass. In trying to pass this test, I´m essentially fighting myself. It´s like a part of me is hell-bent on sabotaging me in order to put me to justice. I´m not going to contradict that part, as this only seems to make it stronger, and besides, it has so much power over me that I simply don´t dare make it “angry”. The only thing it approves of is rock-bottom humility.

I´m sometimes tempted to give it what it wants. It wouldn´t be difficult to figure out. But then, at some point, another part of me cries out and asks me what I´m doing here. Don´t I want to maintain some sincereity? Can I still bear looking at myself after groveling like that? Isn´t it just a cheap thrill, anyway? Am I throwing away years of defensiveness for what will probably be nothing? Do I want to compromise myself like that?

It´s true that quite possibly nothing would come from it. To every internal accusation I would say “yes, it is like that, and yes, I feel awful and pathetic for it, please help me change.” The reply would be: “Well, you´ll have to stop being like that yourself, you can´t expect someone else to sort you out. It´s your responsibility!” To which I would say: “But I don´t know what!” The reply: “Well, think harder!” – “I´m thinking as hard as I can, it´s like my head is going to explode!” – “Actually you don´t want to think of anything. You don´t really want to change, you are not sincere, you are phony, you´re every bit as bad as you were before. You have not really distanced yourself from who you are!” And there goes my peace of mind. Nothing about me is acceptable.

 

 

Failing the social part of college – again

Posted in college, personal with tags , , , , on December 13, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher

The best summary of my experience with social interactions is given by Dexter (novel, not TV show) as he watches Cody´s first encounter with the boy scouts: I still remembered the pain of it; realizing that this was all and forever something for the others and never for me – that laughter, friendship, the sense of belonging, were things I would never really feel. (…) I remembered the dreadful clumsiness of those first years of trying (…), watching with such intense focus for a hint of belonging that would never come.

When I started to pursue my new course of studying I was determined to do everything right this time. Be an industrious student, get to know people, participate, belong. I mostly managed the “industrious” part. The rest, however? Blatant failure. I have not magically stopped being weird. If anything, I appear even weirder. I barely even see a hint of subculture in anyone from my classes. I don´t even know what good it would do me if there were a lot of goths, punks and metalheads around, since I´ve always been an outcast among the outcasts, but it would at least be a little reassuring, maybe? Then again, I actually don´t know if I register as “subculture” with others, my style is rather tame by now.

I´m not even sure, to be honest, if it´s really my fellow students who feel I don´t belong. Of course they will have noticed that I´ve not made any friends yet, but it´s not like no one talks to me, ever. It might actually be me myself who lacks the sense of belonging. Hence the quote.

I think much of my depression of the last few weeks stems from the fact that I noticed I was still as weird, of me feeling there was no one there in a crowd of a thousand people I could spontaneously relate to, and that once again I was doing everything wrong again. Withdrawing, instead of approaching people. Shutting down instead of talking to the people next to me. Reading during breaks. Secretly hoping that I don´t meet anyone on the way from the train station. It was not just my anxiety, but also my very own needs that made me repeat the same old pattern.

Going back to uni after more than a year since my last lecture was a shock. The crowds. The noises. The constant stimuli. So many faces, so many gazes to avoid. I found myself smiling awkwardly whenever I went through a crowd, a half-assed attempt at nonverbal communication, not sure if anyone was taking notice of me or not. It didn´t take long until I loathed how small the hallways were, how narrow the platforms, how slow the people. I felt violent surges of aggression at every obstacle, every noise, every interruption of my attempts at studying somewhere in the hall. Then I stopped going to lectures and spent as much time studying alone at home as I could. It makes me feel like a miserable failure. I feel like I should have pushed myself harder, like I should try harder to belong, and to feel like I belong. It seems to me as if, by feeling alienated from my fellow students, I´ve proven myself unworthy of this whole course of study. It seems like a bright and clear sign that says: “Not for you, apparently. Go on searching.” Or maybe: “Are you sure this is the right thing for you if you feel so alienated? Sure there has to be a group of people where you fit in?”

Yes. Nerds. The only people I consistently get along with are nerds. Unfortunately, though, I don´t give rat´s ass about Starwars, computers and theoretical physics, so I guess that´s ruled out as a career choice. Precisely because of that, even with my nerd pals I often zone out, quit listening and feel like I don´t belong. The difference is that they don´t find it weird. They simply aren´t as pushy as normal people. Befriending them doesn´t require being on Facebook, smiling a lot and drinking beer. They don´t feel threatened, offended or provoked in some way by unorthodox behaviors. They don´t demand explanations, leave alone justifications, as normal people regularly do. Maybe it is some form of caring on their part, but I find it hard to perceive it as such. As far as I´m concerned, the constant inquisition as to why I don´t have Facebook and whatnot is pushy.

In a way I feel sorry for potentially pushing away people who might at least not be completely disinterested in me, at least not from the start, but I simply don´t know what to do with them. I don´t want to get Facebook. I don´t want to argue about getting or not getting Facebook. And I don´t want to be told by kids who are 6+ years younger than me what I need to do. Also, I don´t want to have to explain myself if I´m tired and my eyes are puffy since I had a breakdown the night before. Not when the only two acceptable reasons are “ill” and “hungover” because we don´t actually know each other well enough to tell the truth. Not being ignored can be incredibly stressful, and I feel like a mutant for perceiving it so. I can already hear the admonishments in my head.

These admonishments largely deal with the idea that I need to do anything about this. I cannot just have a negative attitude towards social interactions. It´s mean towards others, and I, too, am missing out on so much great stuff, I just don´t know it yet. The voices don´t sound cruel, they sound like someone who despite having the most benevolent intentions genuinely can´t understand me, but that is precisely what makes them cruel. The complete lack of understanding. I am a conundrum. My feelings are beyond comprehension.

But do I understand myself any better?

I don´t know why the way other people approach me feels intrusive rather than kind to me. I´m tired of blaming myself for this, and I´m equally tired of blaming others. Both approaches suggest there is a solution, that spontaneously connecting with a wide range of people is possible for me. And yet I´m not even interested in advice or solutions. When I don´t feel connected to others, then why exactly would I want to train how to make friends with them? That seems awfully stressful to me. It´s like lying once to get yourself out of trouble, and then having to lie again in order to keep up appearances, and in the end you have all kinds of obligations and social duties which you´d have never signed up for if you´d had the choice. I´m not going to learn how to win the favour of people I don´t really want to befriend. That would actually be highly unfair towards them.

I don´t want to learn how to fit in better with a world I feel alienated from. I want to walk into a place and fit in just the way I am. Nerds are the best fit I´ve found so far, even though we have different interests, but this is not quite what I´m looking for. I´m not so much looking for individual friendship opportunities (I´m happy enough with the ones I have and I don´t think I could juggle any more personal relationships anyway) as I am looking for a world in which I don´t feel like a stranger. I guess that one would be called Utopia.

An enemy of the truth

Posted in health, mental health, personal with tags , , on December 1, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher

Waking up with an awful feeling. I feel like I did back then with Athena the morning after an argument. Well, maybe not all of the anxiety. But the massive feeling of worthlessness. Not so much in terms of skills and abilities. It´s a moral worthlessness. It´s a feeling of: My character, my whole personality is so massively flawed and disordered that I cannot do ordinary everyday life things. What business does a person like me have trying to study?

My priorities shift, from really urgent things (I desperately do need to study!) towards my personality. It is an almost delusional shift. My mind is fixated on my own inherent badness, though not without accusing me of trying to dodge my responsibilities that way. “What is more pleasant: Actually studying or lying around here thinking?” That kind of question could even come from Athena.

Dear madness, let me rephrase it for you: “When I feel like this, studying is indeed more painful than just lying around. Because it sucks when you cannot focus and when your inability to focus and the fact that you didn´t start studying earlier is constantly being held against you until you want to give up because you deserve failing the test anyway. But if I had the choice, I would most definitely rather study all day than feel like this.”

I guess I´m a study in depressive thought. The way things are going, I´m actually starting to consider medication. It is something I angrily refused when I was younger, but I´m starting to see that I was misguided; by prejudices, yeah, but also by my own illness. My depressive thoughts were a trial, and I was desperately fighting to be aquitted. I didn´t just want to block out the accusers. I thought “depression” was just another word for “truth”.

Maybe if I had simply taken medication as soon as I was diagnosed for the first time so much could have been avoided. Such as trying to lie to the judges. I´m coming more and more to the conclusion that depression is what makes you unable to accept the truth. And that´s human. It is impossible to accept the view of the world and the self as depression colors it. You can accept that you made a mistake, even that you acted selfishly and out of petty motivations, but you cannot accept what depression makes out of that.

I´m trying not to blame myself for that, I´m trying as much not to place the blame elsewehere. I´m not going to accuse people of not forcing on me something I adamantly refused at the time. I also, though, will not accuse 16-year-old me of being stubborn and arrogant and a horrible know-it-all. Maybe I was all that, but the primary reason why I couldn´t see how ill I was – was that I was ill. I felt like a fake when my mother took me to a psychotherapist. I couldn´t take any of it seriously, not me going there, not them for not calling me a fake right away. They had to see that I wasn´t really suffering, right? That it was my friends who should be sitting here, that I was just robbing the attention they should be getting.

I cannot help but feel that to some extent this simply was true. I did want attention rather than help. And I´d be so glad if there was any conclusion to be drawn from this, anything on the basis of which I could move on to somewhere. But there isn´t. All I can do is pointlessly judge myself. I´ve gone the way of trying to find out why I would be such a horrible person, and I ended up accusing others of being even more horrible persons – apparently that´s the sole purpose of the exercise. I´ve been considering finding other ways of getting attention, and the result was that it took the innocence out of writing and that I acted out of character. Yeah, I know. “What is more comfortable – acting like you´re a hopeless case and enjoying the pity you get, or trying again and working on yourself?”

Huh. Maybe the most comfortable thing would be to be allowed to just forget things after 10+ years. If what you once did at some point stopped defining who you are, even without a pompous, official “I have now changed” moment. If crimes can become time-barred, why can´t shame? Isn´t there some point at which you have suffered enough for one single thing, regardless of who you are now?

My imaginary mentor once said something beautiful to me with regards to my self-lacerations. He said: “In the society you live in, no matter what anyone does, he is not obliged to punish himself. He might be punished by others, but if he had to punish himself we´d consider that a perversion of justice.” – “Well, what if no one else will do it?” I replied. And he: “That´s called getting away.”

What he “intended” me to take away from this last line was that, maybe, if people hadn´t turned away from me no matter what, then it was okay. Not great, maybe, but not a reason to abandon me. I tend to feel that I don´t deserve to have relationships with other people, so if I do, I either think they have to be immensly generous (that makes me feel even smaller, which makes me feel resentful), or extremely blind (which makes me lose respect), or I believe that they are on the verge of losing their patience with and about to dump me. What he also meant was that there is no higher judge who can decide whether or not I should be in a relationship – only my relationship partner can decide that (yeah, well, and me, of course), and if they decide to stay, that´s the final verdict. (Then again: How final? If they dump me five years after I did something I feel bad about, I´ll still think it´s about that.) My relationship partners should have more of  a say in how dumpworthy something makes me than the voices in my head, and yet I stubbornly keep on ignoring the evidence. (I bet I´ll be dumped five minutes after writing this, just to prove the voices right.)

I think his point was not to tell me that from now on I should let my partners decide if I´m okay or not. What he meant was that if they think I´m okay, then I am not morally obliged to tell them that they´re wrong because it is up to them to decide what is and what isn´t alright with them.

***

So, I´m feeling just a little bit better, but that mood is far from stable. I´m still scared of trying to study. In my new life, it that´s how you want to call it, I feel like an impostor. I don´t really deserve to be there, either, so how can I expect to understand anything I´m reading, or to memorize what I learn? I understand and I memorize, although my focus indeed isn´t as sharp as it could be. I already passed one test. Still, I cannot take myself fully seriously. Cannot take uni seriously for accepting me. It´s basically the same problem. The truly ironic thing is that I was accepted because of the GPA of my high school graduation, something I did years ago. And, other than with shame, this one doesn´t count. It was years ago. I told you I´m a study in depressive thought.

I´m trying to tell myself they haven´t accepted me permanently, with all those tests they are still weeding out (though the drop-out rates don´t reflect this idea). This, however, doesn´t get me motivated, it just gets me scared – and it makes me feel arrogant. Again, there seems to be no way out, no way to get it right. Either you scare and intimidate me and beat me down all the time, or I will lose respect immediately. That´s about my self-image.

The truth, however, should be different. It might be along the lines of: “You had to make a risky decision rather quickly when you went for this new path. It is allowed to make such decisions. You don´t need to make sure you know that it is the right path for you before you even walk it. That is impossible to do.”

And also: “They don´t hate you. They don´t want to kick you out. No one can look inside of you. No one looks and you and wonders what the hell you are even doing here because you are definitely not what you´re aiming to be. The others are just as scared as you are. They, too, hate some subjects or feel like they will always fail them. They´re not all working harder than you, some are actually working less; and no matter how much they do or don´t work, they all procrastinate at times or give in to bad moods.”

I´ll write you a postcard the day my depressive mind actually starts to believe in evidence that opposes its view. This fact, however, nicely illustrates what I mean when I say that depression is not a friend of truth. Where it doesn´t make the truth feel so terrible that it becomes impossible to accept, it completely ignores exculpatory facts. Depression is not the cold-blooded scientist who fearlessly names uncomfortable truths. Depression is a trial in a rogue state. It is legitimate to flee where justice is not to be expected.

Apparently me thinking I´m psychotic again, but most definitely a whole lot of confusion

Posted in health, mental health, personal with tags , , , , , on December 1, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher

I do okay for several days, or maybe experience some moments when I´m really down, but it´s all within reason. Literally. Until suddenly my cognitive functioning breaks down.

Most of the time when I´m down I can describe how I feel and what happens. During a breakdown like this one I can´t. It´s like my mind is cannibalizing itself. I ruminate about myself, then my self ruminates about me, and written down like this it sounds like a witty pun, but in reality I am lying on the bed sobbing pointlessly, unable to put into words or even thoughts what is wrong with me and what I´d need to feel better. This, however, makes me completely helpless. It´s a mental breakdown without any real content; a breakdown of functioning. I cry and cry, and simultaneously I want to dance because there´s a song on the radio that I like; and I´m at a loss to explain where my tears are gone or why they are still streaming down my face while my mind is singing along to Waka Waka. This inability to understand myself or to stay in one emotion for thirty seconds at a time is driving me nuts. Verbalizing is the only real weapon I have against my moods and my mean inner voices, and during those breakdowns it gets knocked out completely.

The only constant during a breakdown is a bizarre sense of guilt. I keep on wondering sincerely how it is possible to reliably do everything wrong all of the time. To be unable to even stay depressed for five minutes. On the one hand, a cheerful song can kick me straight forward into a different mood, and on the other hand, the simple fact that this is so makes me want to kill myself, so what mood am I truly in? I don´t know. It is a circle that perpetuates itself. If I´m actually still depressive, than knowing this should make the unbearable tension go away, but it doesn´t, because the song is still making me happy. I don´t even know how you can have all those affects simultaneoulsy.  And again: How emotional and desperate can I truly be, if I take the time to put the word “have” in italics? Those are questions which, to me, are absolutely condemning, and I don´t even know why. It just seems to me like I am absolutely inconsistent as a person and I cannot cope with that. Maybe according to identity theory (identity as constructs which need to be consistent in order to work) I cannot cope with being inconsistent because it makes it impossible for me to have any kind of self-conception on the basis of which I could try to understand myself or categorize my feelings, assign meaning to what happens inside of me.

I think if the Holy Inquisition still existed I´d go see them and ask if they can save my soul. Now, at the (hopefully) end of one of those breakdowns, I still feel like I desperately need to have all that falseness and absurdity in me eradicated; carved out of my body. I wouldn´t even want it to hurt, though I would want to feel something – the kind of relief you feel when you can at last scratch an itch, or when you finally breach the surface of the water and breathe.

Maybe it is single-mindedness in its literal meaning that I´m looking for. One mood, one line of thought, one emotion. Not all channels open at once. And maybe pain can grant a bit of that. Pain caused by someone else. Get my focus that sharp, fix me there, eliminate. I think my pain perception was a bit dulled during this breakdown.

Oh god, I´d better try to go to sleep now that I have a trace of my usual sarcasm back. Maybe I´m just having that breakdown because I have to study, anyway. Or well…I guess it started because I felt like I´m a complete loser and it just went on from there. Never mind. Never mind, forget it, move on or die trying. Goodnight.