An enemy of the truth

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.

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