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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My Quiet Life of Desperation

Sometimes I question whether I’m missing some piece of mental machinery every human is supposed to have.  Some essential brain cog of empathy or social deftness that would enable me to understand other people’s actions, or more importantly, my own.

 

It’s like this.  I’m confronted with a situation any ordinary person would see as easy to deal with and my mind runs a million miles a minute trying to put the pieces of this great social puzzle together in order to come up with the appropriate response.  My heart’s tearing me one way, telling me to run, run as fast I can, and my mind’s gently coaxing me in the opposite direction saying I should stay and fight the panic.

 

“We can do this,” my brain whispers.  “It’s just a couple variables plugged into some great social algorithm we have yet to discover.  Just crack the code, crack the code…”

 

I want to choose to fight, but more often than not it’s flight that I choose after a couple of feeble jabs.

 

It’s not that I’m some big social pariah or even that one could tell I’m having a hard time dealing with the occasional social situation, but it’s clear as day to me of course.  I’ll feel like I’m in an episode of Spongebob Squarepants where the driver’s ed. teacher, Mrs. Puff, tries to teach Spongebob to drive through a simple obstacle course.  There’s always someone in my brain screaming “Floor it! FLOOR it!”  

 

It’s frustrating.

 

Luckily my socio-emotional car wrecks don’t end in any physical casualties that heal by the very next t.v. episode.  But I still have to deal with emotional wreckage.

 

No.

I’m being dramatic. 

 

Wreckage is too strong a word for it.  It’s not as if I slap people and insult their mothers every time I feel socially gangly and awkward. 

 

I might just give a one word response to an essay-like question or offer a cold one-handed wave rather than a warm two-armed hug.  Just little things.  But these little things can make a big difference when it comes to relationships, and I feel at a loss when I have to deal with the after-effects with no sane explanation for my actions.

 

I mean, what do I say?

 

“Sorry, I was having a mini-emotional breakdown, but I’m better now.  We still good?”

 

Maybe I’m still just being dramatic and even the average ‘Normal Guy’ has these breaks in reason, but I wouldn’t know.  I’ve never considered myself “normal.” 

 

~LDA