This too shall pass

I’m really, really deep in the hole tonight. I’m tired of being this shadow-version of myself who comes home from work and starts sobbing the minute the door closes behind me because the second I’m unoccupied and alone, that’s when it gets me. Last night when I got home I was doing my usual “don’t mind me, I’m just inconsolably crying for a few minutes while I change my clothes and feed the cats” routine, and I caught a look at myself when I walked past my bedroom mirror, and I got scared. I’ve seen what I look like when I cry (I’m not a pretty crier, I’ll freely admit it) but I looked into my own eyes and felt shocked. I was shocked that my pain was so visible on the outside, that two eyes can hold that much hurt. I had this weird couple of seconds when I felt like I was looking at someone else and I felt everything I would feel if I saw another person looking that way. I felt compassion and grief and an overwhelming urge to hold that poor sick girl and rock her and tell her that there are still good things and good people and there’s so much that isn’t broken and shitty. Not everything that looks good on the outside is rotten in the middle. I think that was Real Me rasping through the stranglehold the depression monster had on me. Real Me knows that I have to grit my teeth and ride out those scary moments because they aren’t permanent…I feel shitty to one degree or another pretty much all the time, but those minutes or hours of abject agony do pass and I can breathe again and remember myself.

Please don’t give up on me. I’m trying so hard not to give up on me, and I need to know that someone will still be here when I finally get this shit under control. I’m sorry I flake on commitments and am a drag to be around and sometimes I seem scary  and unknowable. No part of me wants to be like this. I want to be clever and kind and fun and generous again and I have to believe that I can be, otherwise there’s nothing keeping me here. So while I’m finding a way to get better, please don’t write me off. As hard as the last few months have been, I’m still not willing to label myself a lost cause.

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Fighting Mad

I’ve been having a particularly rough time of it this last week or so. And tonight, lying on the couch staring into space because I can’t seem to find an activity that’ll hold my attention, I thought about how we only get to ride this rollercoaster once (as far as I can tell), and the hand I’ve been dealt is one that tries its hardest to make sure I spend as much time as possible feeling irrationally miserable and worthless and waking up most mornings feeling sick at the thought of having to get through another day.

And I’m really fucking mad about that right now.

I’m not having a pity party for myself. I do indulge in that every now and then, but tonight I’m pissed. Because I remember when I wasn’t depressed (or was at least considerably less so), and I was good at finding happiness and fulfillment in small things. I certainly rode the struggle bus sometimes but up until these last couple of years, my head was in a really good place and I was figuring out how to like myself and be me in a less apologetic way. Then the depression anvil dropped on me and everything went dark and I can’t see all the things around me that used to make me smile and think the world is awesome. I still take pleasure in some small things, like this fleecey blanket I just got that’s the softest, plushest thing ever and I wish I could walk around wrapped in it at all times. But there’s a difference now in how I feel about those little things – instead of just getting a happy little kick out of them, I feel like I’m drowning and they are life preservers. I cling to these stupid small things because sometimes they’re just barely enough to give me a five-minute respite from the nauseating dread. That’s not the same as something making me happy. That is a desperate grasping for anything that will make me feel better, or simply less awful, for just a few minutes. And that’s not a life. There’s an episode of Star Trek: Voyager where Seven says, “Survival is insufficient,” and I think about that a lot. Being who I am and living where I do, to be living in survival mode is an unforgivable waste. But I do feel like that a lot. I wake up most weekday mornings and immediately start telling myself that I just have to plow through this day as quickly as possible and then I can come home and hide and sleep again. What kind of a life is that? I don’t think I fully realized until today exactly how much this disease is taking from me. It’s like I open my eyes every morning and get robbed before my feet touch the floor. That’s not okay. The idea of living another day, and another day, and then another day like this is not okay. And I know that. I know I have to fight and keep going to therapy and taking my drugs and finding new drugs if these aren’t working and going to the hospital again if I get really bad. But I’m just so tired. I’m tired in my bones all the time. And the depression monster lives in my head and my chest and he hurts in a way that makes me feel certain that when I die and they open  me up, they’ll find me riddled with him like people can be riddled with cancer. And the thing is…there is no depression monster. It’s just me in here, with a few rogue genes that cause faulty wiring in my brain that fucks up the way I feel and think and perceive everything around me. I had to make up the DM because I can’t stand to think of this as a fight against some abstract or amorphous thing that I can’t really see. Because then it just feels like shadow-boxing, and that’s only pretend fighting.

I don’t know where I’m going with this. I have to fight, and I’m so tired from all I’ve done already, but if I don’t do it I’ll never get out of this current state of mere survival. And I’m not cool with that. There’s enough of the old Minerva in here to be pissed off at the very thought. So off goes our heroine to her rest, because tomorrow’s another day. To be continued…

I Am Jack’s Broken Heart

I spend so much of my time being all “Bitch please, I’ve got this,” but I’m going to be real here and say that I’m not a superwoman today. I don’t feel like a badass or a fighter. I feel like a hurt and confused teenage girl.

I feel like a fucking idiot.

I don’t know why there are certain lessons that just don’t get through to me no matter how many opportunities I’m given to learn them. I feel like I’ve come so far and learned so much in a lot of ways, have gained perspective and wisdom that I didn’t have 8 or 10 years ago. And I feel proud of that, because a lot of it was hard-won. But every now and then the universe gifts me with the realization that I have yet to learn how to stop letting men make a fool out of me.

I am the patron saint of second chances. (Pretty sure there is an actual patron saint of those, but you know what I mean.) And sometimes third chances. And fourth…

And you know what? I’ve given it a lot of thought today, and I can’t think of a single instance when I gave a man a second/third/fiftieth chance and was glad about it later. I’m looking at that sentence and it’s fucking horrible. And I can’t decide who comes out looking worse—me or them. I’m not a very good judge of character, it seems, but you’d think that over time I’d learn to be a better one. Because I’m not saying, and would never say, that men as a rule are rat bastards. The world is full of perfectly lovely guys. I just don’t seem to ever get involved with them, and that can’t be only their fault. I have to bear some responsibility for meeting these guys who seem okay at first and then do something kinda shitty, and I’m hurt and angry, and then I give him another chance because I don’t want to believe that he’s actually shitty, and then he’s shitty again, sometimes in exactly same way as the first time, and I’m like, “What the fuck? I can’t believe he did that shitty thing again after giving me absolutely no reason to believe that he wouldn’t!” And then I feel like a complete idiot, and hate myself on top of that because usually I still have a soft spot for the sorry son of a bitch even after all that.

A friend and I frequently refer to a quote that I think is by Maya Angelou: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” It’s good advice and I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to take it. Do I still think that little of myself after all this time? Did I learn nothing from 5 years with an abusive man who begged me for chance after chance after chance until he suddenly got tired of me and left? It keeps me up at night. I’m tired of the “There’s nothing wrong with me, I’m just a pollyanna and that’s not a bad thing,” schtick. There’s nothing cute about a grown woman who lets men walk all over her. But I can’t stand the thought of being a closed-off, cynical misandrist either. I know there’s middle ground between those two things, but I haven’t found it. I need to figure it out, though, because as I was walking home totally crying but trying to look like I wasn’t, I noticed that this doesn’t ever get easier. This feeling of betrayal and disappointment mixed with self-loathing and blame hasn’t gotten any less awful since the first time it happened 20 years ago. So I think that, at 35, it’s finally time to give myself the gift of not allowing it anymore. It’s time to stop falling in love with potential and start believing people when they show me who they are—the first time, not the tenth.

It’s all easier said than done, because I date approximately once every geological epoch and it’s hard not to get carried away when the stars align and it looks like Something Might Happen. Habits are hard to break. But I know that while dating is messy because human beings are messy, every romantic run-in doesn’t need to end with me sobbing for hours and giving myself a three-day emotional hangover. I’m better than that, and while I haven’t found a man who can give me better, I can give me better. I need to do that as part of my self-care, because the last thing a clinically depressed person needs is a bunch of man-baby nonsense making things that much harder.

So tonight I had my little breakdown, and I’ll probably be sad and disappointed for a while because that’s what I do, but I’m determined to absorb the lesson this time.