Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, just when you think you’ve licked the hateful demons who lurk inside your head, just when you think you just might be coming into your own and shedding those self-esteem issues – your brain starts to rebel.
“Wait just a doggone second, here” it says. “I think you’re feeling a little too good, a little too cocky, a little too self-assured. Tell you what – I’m going to serve you up a healthy dose of self-loathing and self-hate, make you question everything you do for awhile, and knock you down a few pegs.”
And it works. It works every time. I begin to revisit every little interaction I’ve had over the past few weeks – evalulating and second-guessing myself. Eventually I’ve convinced myself that I’m a horrible misfit. That I’m socially inept and just plain weird. That having normal conversations about normal things with normal people will never be possible for me. That I lack the skill for simple chitchat that other people take for granted. That I will never feel comfortable in groups larger than 3 or 4 and will fail miserably when I try.
This is my depression; my lifelong sidekick. Medication creates a barrier, but the sadness eventually finds a way through the hairline cracks of the wall of confidence I’ve been able to erect, brick by brick, action by action, day by day. Its power to blacken every thought is insidious, stealthy. It subtly creeps in, a few thoughts at a time, and is not satisfied until my self-loathing is complete. If not for my medication, the sadness becomes a yawning black chasm of despair that whispers things to me. Things like “you’re no good to anyone here, your life is a burden to others, the world would be better off without you.” Self-annhilation begins as a comforting fantasy, then a metamorphizes into a plan.
The voice continues to whisper its taunts and its encouragements to give in, give up.
That is the way it used to be. The sadness and the blackness would have its way with me and I would fall into the yawning black chasm and lose myself, almost unable to crawl back into the light.
But today I take my pill. Today I dress myself. Today I get into my car and drive myself to a dark movie theater where I can sit and lose myself in a story. Today I turn on some music – a new Richard Thompson CD and find pleasure in the sound of the guitars and the voice and the lyrics of a song.
(red hair, black leather, my favorite color scheme)
Today I write out my thoughts and feelings, and take solace in finding the words to create the sentences that tell my story. Today I read the words that others have written about themselves and find refuge there. Today I might not be completely engaged with the ones I love, but I also have no plans to leave them forever.
Today I will make it. Today I will cope – and the next day and the next and the next…