Building Walls

I’ve been battling with mild depression for a while. Mild, because I’m still functional and able to hide it. I find one of the toughest parts is making sure I keep a balanced life. Little things like getting up early, vitamin supplements, exercise and staying on top of work & hobbies become paramount to my ability to keep it together. A declaration that if I am able to manage the little things in my life that add up to big things, then I can certainly handle the huge demons lurking in the back (and sometimes the front) of my psyche, that in the end really add up to little things.

Depression, or at least my experience with it (after all, everyone’s mental health journey is as different as our fingerprints), can blow things massively out of proportion. There are many times I’m left grappling with this giant weight that becomes so suffocating I feel I might be better off offed. It becomes such a burden to even deal with the mental/emotional/spiritual turmoil that often stems from nowhere in particular, that I’d rather not deal with myself.

But of course,

I have to deal with myself.

I’m the only one who can take up the task to do so.

I can not escape myself.

Or at least not without going to some very dark places.

And this is the part where I start to feel guilty because it’s against my code of ethics to travel to such dark places. I hold the belief that I do not fully belong to myself. That the only life worth living is one where you live your life in service of others. (Which is completely different, mind you, than living your life for others, as in trying to be a people-pleaser.) You will never find true happiness wrapped up in the pursuit of yourself. Loving others, even those you don’t know, by showing that you care, is the root of fulfillment. Of course, if I’m all stuck in my head traveling to dark places or entertaining the thought of really going to even darker ones, then I can’t live the life I was meant to live.

When you feel like I have lately, you get in the habit of building walls to block out the noise of your chaotic brain. The static can get to be too much so it’s important to hone this coping mechanism in order to keep from losing it completely. The ability to quiet the unproductive negative hum that threatens to drown out all desire to accomplish anything in life is vital, but I find that the most damaging thing I end up doing is blocking out the important along with the static. Things like family, friends, hobbies, and passionate pursuits. This of course only digs you into a deeper hole. You have to be careful, otherwise if you ever even crawl out of The Pits, there will be no one left to come back to and you’ll end up having to do a lot of damage control.

Honestly, the most difficult part of dealing with depression is trying to keep myself from the counterproductive construction of walls that separate me from the people around me. The actual temptation of silencing all static once and for all is not painful. It can actually bring forth a sort of catharsis that is very dangerous when fully fleshed. The static has a way of turning into seductive melodies that enchant and cajole when left unchecked. While it’s difficult to climb out of that hole, there’s a sick part of me that enjoys the darkness, and maybe that’s why it’s so hard to fully remove myself from the slump I’m in . Some selfish part of me doesn’t really want to succeed and have to continue fighting my way through life. It wants to let myself be taken down this road of destruction. The key to not actually hitting the self destruct button is keeping an eye on all the walls I’m building, and that’s the difficult part.

It’s easy to alienate people when you don’t even want to keep yourself company, never mind other people. It can start to feel like it’s some big production to be around people since if you acted how you truly felt, they’d either be concerned or walk away because it’s not fun to have you around anymore. Sulking and simmering in solitude starts to wax real attractive.

“Why deal with people anyway? I hate people,” is a common excuse I mumble to myself.

But the truth is I don’t really hate people. I hate the shady, shallow things they often do which make me want to give up on the human race sometimes. But I don’t really hate people, at least not when I’m examining and interacting with them on an individual basis. I can see the sad and stupid reasons for why they do the things they do and empathize with them most days.

The trouble is when you have no empathy left for yourself and the unreasonably gloomy way you’re feeling, that means no empathy left for anyone else either. The thing is, if you surround yourself with the right people, none of this should matter. You shouldn’t feel like you have to hide your dark side from people who truly care about you. They will understand that you are not at your best and give you the support you need in the meantime. It’s important not to weed everyone out as an unsympathetic other. The walls we build must be to deflect static and toxic people only.

Otherwise, when the coast is finally clear to knock most of those walls down, and your face muscles remember how to execute an upward turn at long last, there will be no one left standing on the other side of them to smile at.

~LDA

If you or someone you love is dealing with thoughts of suicide please don’t hesitate to reach out to resources such as:

U.S. National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

United Kingdom Hotline: 08457909090

Canada: 5147234000

Australia: 131114

South Africa: 0514445691

International Online Help: http://www.suicidestop.com/suicide_prevention_chat_online.html

Even if you feel like you already pushed away all the close people in your life (or that they’ve pushed you away), there is always someone willing to help pull you out of that pit you might be in. There’s always hope of reconnection with people, as long as you give yourself a chance to have a future.

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Drama Llama

I’m such a drama llama.

I hate actual drama with people, but I can be so incongruously melodramatic with myself in my head. Even when my logic is pounding at my heart’s door and telling it to shut up, “I’ve heard this bit about five thousand times! Give it a rest already!”

I am finding my problems are so much less than I build them up to be and am continually ashamed of myself. I’m speaking mostly of my social troubles, of which you would barely be able to tell I have, because it’s easy to camouflage.  My anxiety is an invisible burden which I have no need to shove behind my back for fear of being found out.  Its nature is quite undetectable given enough nods, smiles, and echoing of whomever I’m speaking to.

Most people only want to hear themselves repeated and affirmed anyway, so this is easy.  A fact I’ve expressed distaste of before.

It’s quite a self-centered way of being, wanting to be heard all the time and refusing to return the favor, but I’ve admitted I have my own brand of selfishness as well.  I seek depth of connection without wading into the waters of relationship.  You can’t begin to understand a person, or people in general for that matter, until you first know them.  There’s a level of necessity for this surface level contact.

I have this conceited fear that if I talk to a lot of people I’ll attract too many people I don’t particularly like, and won’t know how to shake them off.  Because despite being a pro at offending people unintentionally with my blunt manner, I actually don’t like causing others pain or discomfort.  I do contain a base level of empathy that brings me an aversion to being the cause of pain.  I just mostly see things so differently than other people that I can’t predict a lot of the ways they will feel pain, so I cause it anyway.

But this is a really selfish fear.  One I thought I had disengaged myself with.  It all comes back to me being afraid I will have to give too much.  Which is not completely unreasonable since there are a lot of leeches out there who bring nothing to the table but a suction cup mouth, however it is selfish nonetheless.  So what?  I’ll end up giving more than I receive.  It’s not exactly a fun way to live, but it’s a way of life I’ve claimed to support, all the while not putting into practice socially.  

It’s so essential to my growth as a person and is stunting my current relationships, and still I have yet to deal with it. I’ve been staring my interpersonal issues in the face for so long that I have at least finally identified them. The problem is, that it’s been so long that I’ve also forgotten how to act on resolving them, even when I know how. Or at least know how to start.  I’ve been on pause discussing strategy for such an extended length of time that I’ve forgotten it takes an action to put that strategy into effect.  

It’s things like these that I justly beat myself up about not putting into play.  Life is the sort of game where you have to put yourself at risk to level up.  The trick is to beat each level without using any cheat codes, (like manipulating people), because it’s lame to beat it unethically.  If you do, you will level up, but the win won’t be worth much in the end.

Growing as a person is such a continuous battle of getting yourself to face your fears, irrational and otherwise. And not only face them, but to get up and fight them. 

~LDA