Archive for Depression

Stuck

Posted in personal with tags , on September 28, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher

I feel like I´m pretty close to the core of my self-rejection, but I´m not sure if I can put it into words that won´t make me reject myself. There is a way of writing down painful truths that causes just the right amount of pain to be cathartic, but isn´t open and indecent self-debasement. That way is hard to find and it is by far not always accessible to me.

If done right, this writing down of uncomfortable things gradually lifts the burden of shame, embarrassment and self-loathing. Most of the time, though, I´m incapable of helping myself that way. I have to deal with those feelings by engaging in daydreams and imaginary dialogues in which some kind and patient person tells me what I need to hear. It would be pointless to write those dialogues down here. I´d have to write an actual story that also contains context, gestures, facial expressions, mutual feelings. Even in private that´s too intimate for me. I never turn those daydreams into stories. This inability, though, is extremely frustrating. It is responsible for a great deal of my crankiness. Also, my need to daydream in order to regulate my feelings of shame is responsible for a lot of my time-wasting.

It is not what I wanted to write about, but it is as valid an insight as any that apparently my shame keeps me from being effective in any area. It sometimes stops me even from getting up to brush my teeth. My inertia, of course, causes me even more shame. It´s a vicious circle similar to that of depression. It wouldn´t be such an interesting notion if that shame didn´t feel so specific.

Usually, when you are ashamed, someone is bound to ask: “What are you ashamed of?” I feel like I´m getting close to the point of being able to answer that.

I`m not looking for that answer in order to fix what´s wrong with me. I´m looking for that answer in order to give something to myself that I have been denied all my life.

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Chronic guilt and depression

Posted in health, mental health, personal with tags , , on July 15, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher
  • Waking up from a nightmare feeling momentary relief, then remembering that your nightmares only reflect what would happen to you for real if anybody knew your sordid secrets. You wake up knowing you´re cheating justice.
  • You go to work and feel guilty for deciding to function, as it is a way to escape the guilt momentarily. If you stayed home, though, you´d feel guilty for letting the people at work down and lying to them.
  • You genuinely cheer up for a second and instantly get mad at yourself for being so inconsequential.
  • You imagine seeking help and immediately feel guilty for wishing to waste someone´s time. The fact that you still imagine someone listening to you with genuine interest and compassion (as opposed to the professional edition) is grounds for ridicule. There´s only one reason to seek help: Because you really want help. You don´t even feel embittered as you ponder this;  a melancholic, cooperative resignation softens these thoughts. Being listened to is for better people, motivated people, not for idiots who cling to their disease, like you.
  • There´s always this fluttering, hollow feeling in your chest, like a wound sucking air. A knife seems to be the only thing that could fill it. You don´t even want to die – that would be way too melodramatic – it would just be nice if that feeling stopped already, and it´s not like you´d be a great loss.
  • The thought that other people might love you is terrifying.

 

 

This is not coherent.

Posted in college, personal with tags , , , , , , , on March 17, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher

I´m toying with the idea of a new start. Study a different subject, pursue a certain career. I like the idea a lot. What worries me, though, is the question if I´m even capable of the hard work it would involve. I used to be able to work hard, but I´m not sure if I still am. My brain has gone to pieces over the last seven, eight years. It´s not like I´m not having any insights anymore, but I feel like my rational thinking is suffering. Along with my ability to focus. Maybe this ability is what I miss most. I cannot rely on my mind powers anymore. I can barely even make myself keep on writing this post. I feel the urge to look at another tab, or maybe I shouldn´t be online altogether, maybe I should read a book or write. As a matter of fact, it doesn´t matter what I do as long as I manage to do it for longer than five minutes.

I had some absinth a couple of days ago, my girlfriend persuaded me to try it. The effect it had on me might have been purely down to the mysticism surrounding it, but for a glorious twenty minutes there was silence in my head. The way it is, with the constant low-level or medium-level stress vibrating through my brain I cannot think. I can never get rid of this. I wonder if antidepressants would have a similar effect. If so, that could almost endear me to them.

I still believe the solution to my problem is not to make me stop thinking. I guess the style of thinking is the problem. I need to have more inner distance, more patience, and then I can think all I want. It has worked sometimes on this blog. It has gotten me somewhere, I´m sure. It´s this tension, this sense of urgency that´s the problem. I´ve mentioned that before on here, or if I haven´t I´ve thought of it: that manic urgency is a sign of craziness. I don´t remember such insights from one onslaught to the other. I feel like my focus is narrowed so much that I only see what´s right in front of me, but not the bigger picture. Which is a pity because it´s an impressionistic picture and you only recognize anything when you look at it from afar.

What might help now? One option is processing. The theory behind this is that I haven´t been writing for a while and that too many thoughts and feelings and inner struggles have build up. They put me under pressure, and by dealing with things one after the other I can alleviate that pressure. Somehow I don´t  like the idea, though. I don´t feel like talking about everything I´ve been thinking about over the last week. That feels like I´m forced to report to someone and next my “performance” or the quality of my thoughts will be judged.

Another option is stream-of-consciousness. I´d love to and to some extent it´s probably what I´m doing, but somehow it feels forced. It´s like the processing thing. I somehow expect I´d talk about a whole lot of things I don´t want to talk about. There´s a touch of mischief to it: “You want to repress everything, but it won´t let you, it wants out, you have no control, you can only try to keep up appearances, but we´ve already seen what it looks like inside of you!” Ick. I might let out my feelings if I felt like I´m alone in my head. I cannot afford any feelings of misery and failure when I need to defend myself. I want these constant attacks to go away.

I saw a college counsellor two days ago because of my trouble with my thesis, she said that I tended to think about everything at once instead of one thing after the other. She said I connect things which aren´t necessarily connected. Such as: “Should I pursue this new idea I´m toying with” and “should I try to get my philosophy degree”. If I got her right, it´s not one or the other. It can be both, it can be none. Maybe that way I can get through this confusion. I never took my time properly thinking about what she said. So, I´ll try to think about these questions separately.

Question two seems a little easier. Do I want that degree? I answered that question a year ago. I don´t really identify with philosophy. I´m tired of having to justify myself for studying it, and I´m tired of having to justify myself for not wanting to finish it. I feel like I´m failing just to prove a point, but I think that point is worthy of being proven. The point is that I´m tired of fulfilling anyone´s expectations. I cannot forgive my father for the way he treated me after I graduated from high school so surprisingly well. At least to him it came as a surprise. I cannot forgive him for the way he criticizes me on the fly. We have a normal conversation, and then suddenly he slips in a remark about how he doesn´t think it´s okay or “a good idea” that I do or don´t do this or that. It´s not the words, it´s the tone. His tone somehow gets more intimate, as if he knew me inside out, and often his accusations aren´t even justified. Sometimes there´s also stiff aggression in his voice, and when I contradict he easily gets impatient. Actually he treats me a bit like Athena did. He knows the sole truth and he´s demonstrating me his benevolence (the intimate tone and the way he signals that normally he doesn´t talk about it, he only mentions it now that we accidentally stumbled upon that topic), but if I contradict I´m just playing games and he really has no time for that because the point he´s trying to get across is so damn important. He has a way to talk to me that makes me feel like I´m looking into an abyss of guilt. Like I´m a terrible person. Even if he just criticizes that I don´t open my mail, which I´ve actually started doing regularly as of late.

We had this discussion recently: He told me of some ad he´d seen on a letter from our bank. Apparently they are looking for trainees. He told me I´d sure seen that. I said that I actually hadn´t. He said: “Yeah, well, I know sometimes you don´t open your mail, which, by the way, I don´t think is a good idea…” Me: “I´ve always opened my mail since I´ve moved! I didn´t get a letter with an ad!” Him, impatiently: “Well, you must have overlooked it! Of course, you overlooked it!” It doesn´t sound like much, but the subtext is: “You miss opportunities because you are lazy and apathetic and don´t look at things properly!” He has undermined my trust in myself that way ever since I can remember. He pulled some similar shit after my high school graduation, which is why I suddenly had to think of this. I think what I wanted to say is: When he realized I was actually capable of more than he thought he suddenly got angry at me whenever I fucked up a tiny little thing. Like put the wrong stamp on an important letter. He reads so damn much into such things. I don´t know how else to explain his overreactions.

Okay, here´s a point where I should stop thinking. Alright, I was under pressure when I had to decide what to study. I came from a life time of being accused of being lazy and indifferent. I studied philosophy in order to escape. I made a decision that required the least possible support and the least possible effort just to get everyone off my back. And then I had to defend it. At least this is part of what happened.

My god. Three people in my life who constantly read something into tiny little things and terrorized me over that. My father. Athena. Dr. Stoneface. I couldn´t take the latter entirely seriously. Still, I described how his behavior intimidated me at times. I think with regards to him I had just resigned. I didn´t assume he could like me. Or that I could have a positive relationship towards him. I feel like I´ve also resigned when it comes to my father. I cannot imagine liking him. I just want him out of my life.

Anyway, maybe the feeling these three people give me is completely unjustified. The abyss of guilt, I mean. And maybe I´m not even lazy, indifferent and irresponsible. Maybe I´m just constantly trying to dodge bullets. I run away to where ever, fantasy worlds, alibi life choices, dead end streets, just to evade the onslaught that´s bound to follow as soon as I don´t seem to know what I´m doing.

Whatever I am, this feeling is not my friend and this feeling is not the truth about me. It´s something a person who has been with me since my birth manages to instill in me. But how do I make this feeling go away? How do I replace it with a minimum of confidence? Maybe it is enough to say that I don´t know if I can trust myself. Maybe everything else will be met with too much of a backlash. If I say I don´t know if I can trust myself I always can counter the voices who say that I definitely can´t trust myself.

At any rate, I do understand now why I must always appear competent and like I know what I´m doing. I cannot stand to write entries like this one, without structure or anything else. Entries which let on my confusion. I´d rather make statements about insights and opinions I have. Anyway, it´s not about vanity and looking omniscient, it´s about warding off attacks. If I don´t have an answer to everything then I´ll get criticized. Or demoralized in some hard to describe way. Maybe that´s why I´m having such a hard time making decisions, or why I need to make sure I´m making the right decision. I can´t just try stuff. I can´t just not know stuff. I always need to be able to make a case for everything I do. Feelings don´t matter.

Then, for this lack of feeling and for my making a case and my knowing it all I got criticized by everyone outside my family. Arrogant, too complicated, unempathic, zombie, overbearing, narcissistic. Isn´t it sad how I victimize everybody else just with who I am. I feel a different kind of rage for those people and their attitude. Something in my brain just refuses to even take them seriously. Why should I let them hurt me when they never even gave me a chance? If they have so much empathy they should be capable of a little more than judgment, but unfortunately they aren´t. I get all my narcissistic supply from my intellect, they get it from their alleged ability to feel and empathize. Difference? Zero. If you feel superior because you have actual and real feeeeelings then you might as well be me.

How am I ever supposed to be okay if I´m attacked by two sides at once? Again, I need inner distance. Patience. The rage needs to stop. It shouldn´t even matter to me what other people think. I don´t even know what they think, they probably aren´t constantly thinking about me anyway. Still, they said what they said and these words have burnt themselves into my mind. They are timeless, they could have been said yesterday. Another sign of madness. No sense of time. They are like flashbacks.

I´m just going to post this because it´s better than nothing and it´s not going to get any better than this anytime soon. I´m too tired to draw conclusions and in a way I just don´t want to. That´s just another way of pretending I know what I´m doing and I´m on my way to improve, right? Well, I´m not. Improving, I mean. Or at least right now I´m not confident and right on track and on my way to achieving something. Right now I´d rather have to right to feel apathetic and helpless. I don´t want to constantly fight against feelings. Being allowed to feel miserable in fact makes me feel a whole less miserable. My complete refusal, and also my failing college is an attempt at breaking free. Maybe it´s a test. How people react to it. In a way I´ve already decided that whoever reacts negatively to my failure isn´t really my friend.

I feel so sorry for my former self. The self who had hoped to prove herself and get somewhere with studying philosophy. The self who had hoped to shine and find a place in life. I´ve failed her. On the other hand, those ambitions themselves are nothing I have to bury. I just need to look for a place somewhere else. I hope I can make it. In a way I´ve made my decision already.

 

Depression, self-destructive thoughts parading as solutions, and my insecurity about my future

Posted in health, mental health, morbid, personal with tags , , , , on March 6, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher

I so bloody dislike myself.

Whatever I think about, I find a way to read something into it so it demonstrates how pathetic I am. I´m not even sure it makes sense to rationally figure out if I am pathetic or not. Not that I don´t read something into this, too.

I know this is depression. And the horrible thing about depression is that it perpetuates itself and sabotages all attempts at rescue. To begin with, if you need rescue, if someone else knows better what´s good for you than you yourself, you have failed. If anyone can describe your thought processes and behaviors, you are ridiculous. If anyone calls them dysfunctional, and even more so when he explains to you in a humorous tone why they are, you are completely stupid and embarrassing and you should probably die.

Whether there is rescue or not seems to depend mostly on how much of this pain you can take and still stand up again to try anew. Another sentence that is definitely not made to improve the self-respect of those suffering from this illness.

What I mean is that I´ve realized very simple things can alleviate the feeling of depression at least temporarily. Going for a walk, doing the dishes, taking a shower or brushing your hair. And yet all those things hurt physically when you´re depressed. This thing you carry around with you, this body, this self, it disgusts you to feel it in any way! This hatred you feel for it! You wouldn´t mind someone to slash through it with a butcher knife! Just destroy it! Make it go away!

And here is the catch: If you want it to go away or get less for a while, you need to get up and move. Which makes it hurt more for a while.  Hence the question: How much of the pain can you stand? Though this is really not a matter of personal strength. It´s a matter of how strong the depression is. Since there is no objective measure for depression, this is the only way round it makes sense. You cannot say: Person A is stronger than Person B because despite having the same level of depression she still functions better. The level of depression is determined, if anything, by how badly it impairs your functioning. So this is the truly bad news: The worse a depression, the harder it seems to cure it, because in order to be cured you need a tiny little shred of health to begin with.

It is said that depression can be the result of having a dysfunctional personality with dysfunctional beliefs. It seems to be what Dr. Stoneface thought about me. The way I see it, though, is all we know is that there´s a correlation between certain thought patterns and depression. How do we know those thought patterns are the cause of depression, and not an expression of it? Take narcissism and the sensitivity to criticism: In the manner of someone like Dr. Stoneface I could argue that because I cannot deal with criticism, each time something doesn´t go my way or I don´t get enough praise I get depressed. And at the same time a heightened sensitivity towards criticism is characteristic for depressed people. Not just in how they react to criticism, but also in what they perceive as criticism. Now go tell a depressed person he´s a narcissist. There´s a reason for diagnostic hierarchies.

Maybe my own attempts at finding my way out of my depression aren´t entirely non-sensical. Reason and even defensiveness at times help me to make psychotherapy´s answers to my problem seem less personal. Ten years ago I´d have yelled at anyone who´d have told me to do more sports or go out for a walk. Now I´m starting to understand on which level that might help. Part of understanding that, though, was understanding that depression is really something serious, not me just being stupid, and curing it is not a case of “just do…”. There´s no “just” in curing depression. There´s only leading you to a point at which you can almost, almost “just” get out of bed, and then encouraging you to force yourself a couple of times even though it hurts.

I think there´s too much inhumanity in treatment. Blaming the patient´s personality for his suffering. Way to get his self-esteem back on track. Way to make him feel like he´ll get back to full functioning. Way to make him feel like it´s even worth trying. Like he´s even worth trying. There´s other kinds of inhumanity, too. Impatience, for example. Commands that contain the word “just”.

Inhumanity is not just found in therapists. It is also found in patients. They wish someone would force them to function. Slap them if they fail. Slap them for being who they are. Tell them what failures they are. I have such wishes, plenty of them. I can read a lot into this. The interpretations are cruel as ever. “Apparently you just need structure. You have failed at being free.” Could that be the lesson? That I need other human beings? Maybe not punishment, but praise and incentives and support? Maybe I only fantasize about punishment, rejection and condemnation because whatever you do you can always be sure of those? Maybe it isn´t safe for me to dream of other things because I´m sure I wouldn´t get them? Maybe I´m scared of rejection because it would hurt my pride and therefore I only dare dream of human contact in the form of rejection? So my ego remains intact? So I´m incapable of love and satisfying human relationships because of pride and ego, and my depression is mercilessly showing me this? And I´m only fighting my depression so bravely because I don´t want to hear this truth and I hope to somehow get around it if only I achieve enough external happiness in life?

What will it be like if I break sometime? If I dare let this happen? Won´t I feel terrified and helpless? Won´t I feel like I depend on other people and like I cannot treat them like shit anymore? Won´t I have to earn their approval and try to work on my undesirable character traits so someone likes me? Tolerates me? Gives me a second chance because I blew the first merely by existing? Yes, I will certainly live on parole for the rest of my life! Yes, it´s difficult living with a personality disorder, and I´m very strong and mature for finally realizing that! I can always see my therapist, though, so I have someone who knows about me and helps me accept that somehow I was struck with this, sometime in early childhood, and I bet he´ll even help me forgive my parents that they did something wrong in, what, the oral, anal or genital phase? If I get to angry he´ll remind me that there are unknown biological factors, too, and that my parents did what they could! We´re all just human, apart from me. I´m sub-human and I have less than equal rights. I must always make the extra effort, otherwise I can expect no understanding.

And there it ends because the end of this tale is my complete psychological annihilation. And obscene as this scenario sounds to me I´m glad I wrote it down because those are the sick ideas going through my head. They go in circles, they always return. It´s a sophisticated but nonetheless clearly depressive line of thought. It´s like a computer virus that uses the computer´s firewall to disable the user to download a program that removes the virus. I take whatever psychotherapeutic theories there are and turn them against myself. So probably everything I wrote on my blog about this is rubbish and a complete misinterpretation and distortion of mine, except that it isn´t. At least I´ll just boldly say so.

It´s a question I´ve been asking myself lately too many times. Am I distorting everything? Will I one day wonder how I could ever be so adamant about those concepts and cures? Think of this time as a period of sickness? Craziness? Those concepts say “yes” to all of this, but why would I trust them on this? Still, that makes the thought of me being misguided and deluded even more painful.

A lot seems to depend on this. Such as a career choice I´ve been toying with lately. Shouldn´t I go and try to change those things? Make sure patients get more rights, are treated with greater transparency and less inhumane, anachronistic and unscientific concepts? But what if my motivation will run dry once I myself am over what happened to me? Have I been changed and deformed so thoroughly that this will always be important to me? Can I only cure myself by gaining official authority on those subjects so I am heard? Different question: Could I stand that and wouldn´t it corrupt me? Is there some different kind of happiness for me far away from the fights and the exhaustion that would result? Am I missing out on it?

Bloody insecurity. And I´ll get out of bed and go outside now.

Cognitive dissonance and breaking

Posted in health, mental health, morbid, personal with tags , , , , , , on February 27, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher

In the light of my last post I thought I´d probably do best adhere to strictly rational thinking. I read some skeptical views on recovered memories and quack therapies and again and again I was told that one main reason why people stick to false beliefs even after being faced with contrary evidence is cognitive dissonance.

Every theory on the human mind and soul has its list of sins. On some lists, the sins are selfishness and narcissism. On the list of rational thinking, the mortal sin is giving in to cognitive dissonance.

The effects of cognitive dissonance are, of course, depressing. “I mustn´t be wrong so I can´t be wrong”, or “being wrong would be too costly for me personally, so I simply ignore the facts”. This is painful for the individual in question, too, though. It is not “the easy way out”. If that´s the easy way out, I don´t want to know what the hard way is. I think skeptics are taking the easy way out if they treat giving in to cognitive dissonance as a mere character flaw which they themselves are above. I´m not saying that´s what all of them do this, but I rarely see people treating the issue with a whole lot of sympathy.

I think cognitive dissonance is one of the most powerful psychological forces there are. I think it´s ultimately what is behind breaking people. Take a look at 1984: Winston wanting to give up Julia to save himself from the rats is so at odds with his love for her that after doing this he cannot feel love for her anymore.

I think about my reaction to understanding what my priorities were with regards to Lola: “That isn´t me.” Acting like my obsession was more important than my best friend was indeed “not me”. Just one year before Lola herself had told me that she wouldn´t know what to do without me because I was such a good listener. I was generally known as a good friend. Nobody could understand what was happening. And neither could I. How could my obsession be more important than a friend who had been through terrible things? I couldn´t find an even remotely sensible reason. Not even a psychological mechanism. It was as irrational as a rat phobia.

I always sensed there was a connection between Winston´s and my situation. A few months after Lola´s letter I was close to putting it into words when I wrote: “How do you make a person want the wrong things? Make him do the wrong things!” It was more complicated, though, than mere brainwashing or an ideological conversion. What happens in Room101 is psychological mutilation. In my case, that mutilation was accidental.

If cognitive dissonance can kill off two peoples´ love for each other, then we shouldn´t ever take it lightly. “The truth hurts, suck it up!” is not a solution. If cognitive dissonance is a universal psychological power that has the same effect on everyone, then there´s no point in judging people who are deformed by it. Maybe you´ve just been luckier than them. Essentially, it can happen to everyone. Statements like the one above deepen the cognitive dissonance and the shame. They are part of the problem.

If we accept that our identity is a construct based on a narrative of our lives, then cognitive dissonance rips holes into that narrative. Our identities don´t work anymore. We need new narratives which explain how we could do something that is not who we are. Maybe we´ll find reasons for our behavior we can identify with. I tried that. A lot. I tried real and imaginary reasons. It didn´t work.

I wonder what Winston would have done if he´d still had the psychological capacities for doing anything at all other than getting drunk. And the logical step would have been to look into his past for anything that justifies his rat phobia. I´m sure he would gladly have made up any horror story just to be able to love Julia again. Or at least bear look at himself in the mirror.

This has nothing to do with being particularly narcissistic. This accusation is similarly cruel as the “suck it up” response. They are, at their core, the same thing.

Now all I´m wondering about is how you cure this.

This post starts with a new conception of sanity and then somehow drifts elsewhere only to gracefully return to the start

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

Warning: This post contains reference to childhood sexual abuse.

After days of hysteria and wretchedness I got back something beautiful: My sharpness. That practical, analytical state of mind where I look at problems unemotionally. Where I painlessly slice through myself and don´t shy away from anything that turns up. Where I look ugliness straight in the face and try to stare it down. Where no truth is inconvenient. It must be the specific kind of happiness reserved for me. My style of sanity.

It´s a very threatened sanity, a threatened happiness. It is threatened by fear – fear which leads to lies I tell myself (and others). Trying to live a lie is like trying to juggle too many plates at once. The underlying stress and anxiety only increase, until at some point I realize something is about to crash. I´ll have to let go of some of those plates. At least I might get to decide which ones it will be. Today I chose to tell some pen pals the truth about how well I get on with my thesis and that I consider quitting. It was a symbolic act, it felt like writing a manifesto rather than a confession. It was an act of protest, though oddly enough protest and humility exist closely together in me.

One of my pen pals replied, very sympathetically, and yet I noticed with a certain chagrin that she seemed to interpret my admission of failure and my wish to quit as an act of self-destruction. To me, it is an act of saving myself. It gives me back my sense of integrity. Doing things that have outward negative consequences for you can and often is part of maintaining your integrity, though. Actually, that´s the whole point of integrity.

My sister once did something incredibly brave. When she was working on her dissertation, she had a fight with her tutor, an influential professor. She didn´t want to let go of her concept and looked for another tutor, who was much less influential. If she had stayed with her old tutor, she´d have had to adept her concept to his, but he would have helped her find a job at a university in the US and she could have stayed together with her boyfriend. She didn´t, and now she had trouble finding a job and the two of them are living on two different continents.

Integrity can look incredibly stupid. It isn´t particularly practical to throw away the chance for a great job and a future with your boyfriend for a philosophical idea. It might even be seen as incredibly selfish. Maybe it is. Some psychologists would probably see it as a personality deficit. It is bound to lead to decisions which make you unhappy, isn´t it? It´s almost like self-sabotage. And yet, in some way, it can be the only way to breathe. The only way to not be neurotically anxious. I don´t feel much self-respect when I compare my sister´s decision to my own life.

My cold, unfazed, analytical gaze led me to believe I was somehow evil. Now I think that wasn´t true. I think I was a more loving, more helpful person when I was still the old, sharp me. At least I didn´t need so much from other people. Maybe others see it differently. That´s a harsh thought. I don´t want to make them feel unloved. It seems wrong for me to make anyone I love feel like that. I don´t think I could live with me being like that. And still I cannot breathe if I´m not myself. I have nothing to hold on to and I start to get anxious and clingy and dependent.

Maybe the loss of my integrity started with a high school friend of mine, Lola. I had analyzed and evaluated her with my cold, observant mind, and there came a point in our friendship when I emotionally separated myself from her because her behavior became too frustrating. She was sitting around, staring into the void, and, as it looked to me, letting everyone pity her. In my own, cold way I was angry at her for being like this. I still feel like on some level I have a point. That what she did was manipulative to some degree, and that she never cared very much about anyone but herself. It doesn´t mean that my reaction didn´t hurt her, though. I pretty much put her on ignore. She was still an unresolved issue, though, so after some time I wrote her asking how she was doing.

The reply might be among the worst letters I ever got, and there are actually some. She told me that one little detail I hadn´t known about: That she was an incest victim.

I´m not even sure why that threw me. I´m definitely cold-blooded enough to believe that this doesn´t oblige me to like, actively pity or spend time with her. Maybe it wasn´t this particular revelation, maybe it was just the terrible caricature she painted of me in that letter. My coldness, my bizarre interests and my cruel rationality. The things I got emotional and angsty about. And not to forget the aggression itself that radiated from the letter. I could hear it scream at me. Add to this my shame about my more or less secret sexual fantasies. Any allusions to this I made to her were now ringing back and forth in my head loud and clearly and, given the background, that sound was demolishing.

Amazingly, I did many things right following the letter. I wrote her back, apologizing, validating her view, offering her that she could talk to me anytime (which she, of course, declined). Then, knowing there was nothing any of us kids could really do, I went to the school counsellor and told her about the case. I don´t know what exact steps were taken and what the outcome was. In some ways I did more than her other friends, and in some ways I had done less. I guess I´d do better as a therapist than as a friend. It´s events like this which make me feel like I have nothing to give. Nothing on the emotional front at least.

I think it is ironic that on the one hand I was able to imagine Lola´s state of mind very well once I knew what was going on, and yet on the other hand I was completely unable to feel any closeness to her while she was feeling so bad and in a way it even seemed fake to me. I was very careful not to disclose her real name to the school counsellor at first because I thought that Lola wouldn´t want a secret she kept so long to spread like wildfire all of a sudden. Before I decided to see the counsellor I actually came up with the plan of killing the man responsible for her abuse, but, besides being realistic enough to know I wouldn´t do it anyway, I figured that Lola might not even want this, or at least that she wouldn´t want things to be taken out of her hands. And yet before I knew what was wrong I was unable to react to her behavior the way a friend would. Even afterwards, I was to some extent glad I didn´t have to be around her. I was glad I could try to help her from a distance.

I don´t know what to make of my reaction to her depressive behavior. Was there really something deliberate to it, something passive-aggressive, and did I notice and respond to something the others missed? Or am I simply an incredibly bad friend? (To my defense, Lola never was the best friend, either. For a couple of months, she practically bullied me.) You could probably argue for both. They´re not necessarily mutually exclusive. It depends on how you define friendship duties. Do you have to put up with months of “I´m the queen of darkness and nobody else´s problems matter! Everybody watch me stare into space and try to make me talk!”, even when the background is tragic? And what are you supposed to think when you´ve asked a million times what is wrong, you get told “I can´t tell you”, and when you finally turn away all of her other, not-as-close friends start telling you “you´d look at her behavior completely differently if only you knew her story, but we really can´t tell you!”? She could tell them, apparently. Even my own fucking boyfriend knew before I did, and even he played this bullshit on me, in his uniquely condescending way! He wasn´t even on our school! He barely knew Lola, so how did he learn about it, other than through the rumor mill? Which could apparently supply anyone but me! And did any of those self-righteous fuckers do anything other than pat her on the head and tell me how ignorant I was and how I´d totally forgive all the bullying if only I knew? Nah! It was me, the designated asshole friend, who had to get an adult involved! Because apparently everybody else was just sitting back and enjoying their goose-bumps!

As much as I did for her in the aftermath of this letter, as much did I maltreat myself. The vague thoughts of suicide I´d harbored at the time turned into a definite death sentence. I. Should. Not. Live. I felt like I neither had a right to be happy, nor did I have a right to be unhappy. Unhappiness inspires sympathy and attention and I deserved neither. I was still analyzing my growing depression the way I analyzed everything else, but analysis didn´t show me a way out, though sometimes I believed to have recognized the problem. My mother kept on bugging me what was wrong, but I, following Lola´s pattern now, refused to tell her. It didn´t seem right to let just anybody know what had happened to her. It was something I could only tell a professional who was bound to a vow of silence. Not my mother. It would have been insensitive towards Lola. My mother knew her, after all. Also – could I rely on my mother´s silence? If it made me feel so bad, she´d probably want to discuss it with my father. And who would he talk to? Thus, it took weeks until I finally let my mother in on why I wanted to die.

I realize that, other than self-hatred, my most prominent emotion when I think of all this is anger. I used to think that I´m only angry to ward off shame, but reading what I wrote I wonder to what extent my anger was actually justified. Maybe it doesn´t really matter. Maybe the belated lesson I should take from this is that conventional friendship behaviors are not my strong side. It doesn´t mean that I´m not helpful, or necessarily more harmful than others. Conventional friendship behaviors seem to include gossip, after all. Or maybe the lesson is that I´m a different kind of friend. I´m not emotionally there when you need me, but I´m the kind of friend who still tries to get you help after you call me an indifferent, disloyal asshole caught up in her ridiculous teenage problems. Being able to emotionally detach at the right time has its benefits. It doesn´t mean the rage isn´t there somewhere.

If the emotionally detached analytical state of mind is my style of sanity, though, I should go into a direction where I get to help people rather than emotionally support them. I´m not completely incapable of emotionally supporting people, I´ve actually learned a thing or two, but other than helping, fixing, looking for the right thing to do, that is something which exhausts me emotionally. It eats up resources, whereas analyzing humans and their problems revitalizes me.

I see a connection between my urge to analyze people and my sadism. It is a similar state of mind. In some ways, though, it is also different. I love the feeling that my mind, or, in the case of sadism, my voice, is like a very sharp scalpel which I drag through humanity´s flesh. In the case of analysis, this is typically the only pleasure, whereas in sadism, there is the added kick of the other person´s reaction. Which, in order to have that effect, ought to waver between pleasure and voluntary suffering. It is kind of reassuring to realize that I actually don´t get anything out of analyzing people who react with anger and protest. I don´t react with triumph to that, but with self-doubt. Good to know. So maybe this whole analysis-thing is not as evil as I thought it was. What both experiences have in common, though, is that if successful, they end with a high. I´m feeling righteously tired, nicely relaxed, and I have a hunch that ultimately everything will be alright.

And who says everything needs to be titled, anyway? Ah, yes, my OCD!

Posted in health, mental health, morbid, personal with tags , , , , on February 15, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher

I think what I hate most about myself is my lack of liveliness. I don´t take any real interest in life and it´s possibilities. Even as a kid, I shied away from it when I said I was going to be a writer. I didn´t say that because I liked to write. I said that because as a writer you don´t have to work with other people. You don´t have to do anything at all. You can just stay at home. You don´t even have to get dressed in the morning or whenever you get up. I never wanted to be alive and I never wanted anything to do with this world. I´m a zombie. I was reasonably happy when I was working at the library feeding the online catalogue, alone in a room with a computer. When I was taking acting classes, which officially counts as a great, liberating, artsy activity, I was thinking about suicide every day I left the classroom. How does that make sense? Does something inside of me hate myself?

The answer is probably yes, but it´s different than I think. It´s not me who´s being hated, I´m the one who hates. I hate that cold, numb, grey thing inside of me that stands between me and the world and yet I´m afraid that´s all I am. It´s simply so that I don´t need any of the dreams this world tells us to live. I live in my head, and as long as this world leaves me the fuck alone I´m quite happy there. Like I said, I´m a zombie. Even Athena said that to me, and she might have been right. What she was wrong about is that I was so by my own free will. In fact, she knows fuck all and she can go fuck herself.

I think there´d be plenty of things I´d be happy to do if the road to get there wasn´t plastered with meeting people, and talking to people, and convincing people and pleasing people. I will absolutely always fail because of this. Not because I totally can´t manage people, but because it kills my motivation. It´s a universal dealbreaker. I´ve avoided deciding on a goal exactly because of this. Therefor, I spent all my life committing myself to cop-outs. Becoming a writer, that is, making a living off the dreamworld in my head where I live vicarously. Studying philosophy, which is sure to get you nowhere on the job market unless you really know how to sell yourself. And because all those are cop-outs, I do not really like any of it and I don´t get anywhere with it. It´s essentially a big, fat, fucking life lie and I´m tired of it. I don´t want this anymore, but I really don´t have anywhere else to go. I can learn some social skills, I know some of them. I can keep up a conversation with my hairdresser if I focus really hard. But all that is no use if the prospect of having to do all that exhausting stuff on top of learning and practicing and working on the professional skills I´ll need drains me before I´ve even started. It kills my motivation. The moment I realize I´ll have to go through a lot of formal and social protocol I don´t feel motivated to pursue a goal anymore.

I can never just be myself without getting negative feedback. I can´t just be silent. I can´t just be lost in thought. I can´t talk about stuff that interests me. It´s funny, something I observed recently when I was out with some people. I felt unable to say anything, I was staring onto my plate because even peoples´ voices made me feel sick, and then the topic shifted to serial killers and suddenly I had no problem talking. We were speaking English, and normally my English sounds a little bit clumsy, or like I´m stealing lines from sitcoms, and now, all of a sudden, I had my own words. It was no problem at all. Of course, though, it is very inappropriate to talk about serial killers without making a disgusted face that signals you want to drop the issue as soon as possible, so I shut up again as soon as I could make myself do so, not without feeling like I was being obnoxious anyway.

I don´t think there´s any real chance for happiness for me out there. People don´t like it when I behave in a way that´s natural for me. I´m not even sure I know how to be me. It doesn´t make me happy to talk to someone about something that interests me if very soon I realize they don´t share that interest at all. “Just be yourself” is neither an option nor a solution for me, but I´m tired of trying to be someone else. In fact, I´m so tired that I´m about to just ignore the deadline for my paper, ignore the follow-up letters and pretend nothing had ever happened. I wonder how long I´d get away with lying about it. To make it clear: I wouldn´t lie out of shame because I don´t think not graduating from college would be an intellectual failure on my part. I´d just lie so that people leave me the fuck alone. I could actually pull this off because I don´t know anyone at uni anyway. I wouldn´t even have to be scared I´d run into anyone, and even if: If I yelled at them “no, I quit, I failed, call it what you like, I just didn´t want to do this anymore!” , at least I´d be myself.  The most authentic thing I could do would be to scream and throw dishes. It would accurately portray how I´m feeling.

How did I used to deal with people before Athena rendered me a mental wreck? I analyzed them, and damn quickly. It was a merciless, but often accurate portray of their personality which I could use to categorize people so I didn´t feel completely inadequate around them, like it is now. Humans made sense to me. Then I realized there´s another dimension to human contacts. You can´t go around and give people an autopsy protocol of their psyche. It actually does things to them, like hurt them, and that might be worth taking seriously. This reaction, their view of me, was a bit of a blind spot. Considering this is like trying to see in 3D when your brain can only perceive two dimensions. Maybe this is the part of empathy which I fail at. Still do, even though now I willfully don´t see things anymore. I try to be “open-minded”. I analyze people and then tell myself not to be judgmental because “how shall I know!”. And yet analyzing is one way of being myself. I miss it.

I think the reason why I stopped being this way was Athena. It´s exactly what she did to me. Give me an autopsy protocol of my psyche. Telling me what unconscious motives I had. Her respect for me depended on how much I needed to delude myself about myself – and on how willing I was to change.

I hate what I´ve become. And this isn´t facilitated by the fact that according to society I should hate what I was and be glad about what I became. That thought is so perverted it is nauseating. I want to go back to being the person I was, I want to never let Athena into my mind, I want to dissect hers and see her spend the rest of her life living in a trailer park with a bipolar meth addict. I don´t want to be a lost sheep who´s trying to integrate herself into the herd. I don´t want to work on my ability to be social and to love and to be nice to people. I don´t want to try to become something I´ll never be any good at anyway. And yet I feel like I have no other choice because I failed at being who I was, too. I´m no good at it. I have to many biases, feelings, needs for approval. I´m too shaken, I´m too aware that there are three dimensions, so aware that I´ve become unable even to set boundaries or fight. I´m useless, I´m neither here nor there, and the person who made me so didn´t even have the decency to make sure I don´t have to live on like this.

I used to be emotionally self-sufficient to a high degree, but now I simply can´t live with myself anymore. I can´t feel good anymore. Maybe I need to learn to be myself again. Maybe I need to go out there and mentally slice apart some people. Maybe I need to make my own, cruel, unkind sense of the world. And maybe even the thought revolts me because you cannot plan this. It either happens or it doesn´t.

Maybe I just stopped being myself because I´d rather not experience the kind of pain and rejection again I tend to get for it. Being yourself without any positive feedback doesn´t feel like a very desirable thing to do. Maybe that IS a way to effectively snuff out a person. Or at least their personality. And I don´t think I´m well equipped to fight back.

Oh god, I don´t know. I´m so overloaded I cannot think straight anymore. I´m amazed I write in whole sentences.