I was pretty bad today. I’ve been worse, but not in a long while.
I also realised today that when I say things like that people have no frame of reference to know what exactly I mean, so I’m going to try to write down how I feel when things are “bad”. This probably isn’t going to be structured very well, and I have a lot of trouble putting feelings into words, but anyone who wants is free to read on…
Yesterday was at the “irritating” level. I was agitated and unhappy, without having any specific reason. I found myself bursting into tears (even sobs at one point) over silly sentimental songs. When the craft project I was working on went wrong I was having to resist the urge to throw it at something. However it wasn’t too hard to deal with, and it wasn’t affecting basic things too much. When I was chatting to people online, for example, it wasn’t really affecting me except for some tendency towards grumpiness.
Today was “bad”. From the beginning of the day I had that feeling in my head that marks (for me) depression. I don’t know what that feeling is, or how to describe it. It’s not a pain, and it’s not an emotion. All I know is that when I feel that way I want to do anything to make it stop. It makes me beg “please, make it go away” inside my own head, even though I know it won’t. It makes me think “Go away world” because I don’t know what it is that makes me feel this way, so the whole world going away is clearly the only way to make it stop. When it gets worse it makes me want to bang my head off a wall until I stop feeling it.
When I’m feeling that bad it’s very hard to go out. On the one hand it makes it easier if I have someone to talk to, but the feeling also makes me twitchy, irritable, and grumpy and makes me paranoid, and afraid that if I’m difficult to deal with then my friends will stop wanting to be around me. I logically know that this isn’t true, but it doesn’t stop me believing it, and being terrified that if I show how bad I’m feeling I’ll lose people. Since I’m very aware of how much I need people when I’m in this state it makes me try really hard to hide it, and to appear fine. I think sometimes this causes even more trouble, particularly with people who don’t know me so well, because they can tell that there’s something bothering me, but they don’t know what or how to deal with it.
When it gets even worse, and when I’m not around people, I suffer from a strong feeling of hopelessness. The closest I’ve ever come to describing it is that when I feel that way I can’t believe anymore. I can know things logically and act on them, but as far as emotions are concerned there’s nothing except what’s there right now. This includes people. This is the stage where I feel like I have no friends and no-one would care if I didn’t exist. (again, I always logically know that this isn’t true!) It’s not that I can’t believe in people caring about me, it’s just that I can’t believe in people. (I know this probably doesn’t make sense, but I’m trying to describe some pretty confusing feelings here.)
At this stage the logical part of my mind starts pulling up random bits of memories in an attempt to remember any emotion other than what’s there right now. It’s a case of clutching at straws, because big ideas like “your sister loves you” don’t work. They’re too abstract. The most effective things are tiny moments like “the way S looked at me dissaprovingly when I turned up late for management lectures again”. The trouble is that my mind is pretty much in a mess right now, so for every few memories I pull out there’ll be a few associations that aren’t so happy, and my optimism is pretty much gone at this stage. Because I’m having trouble imagining emotions in others it’s so much easier to latch onto little slights and sad moments and decide that they mean people just don’t care, ‘cos not caring is a very easy thing to imagine right now.
*This is the point where I want to explain something to people before they read on: I am not going to commit suicide. This is for certain. When I’m at my worst I do consider it, but even then I never come close to actually deciding to. My depression affects my emotions and my beliefs, but not what I know, and what I know is that it’s always got better before and it’s going to get better this time too. All I have to do is hold through until the next day and I can live again for a while. That’s enough to keep me going, even when I can’t believe in the future.*
In fact, the more confused and hopeless my mind gets the more attractive not caring gets. If I didn’t care then I wouldn’t feel this way. Better yet, if I didn’t exist. I find myself wanting to just stop, and give up. I imagine it would be such a relief. I start to think silly thoughts. When I’m crossing bridges I think of just jumping into the water and seeing how far I’d float if I just lay there. In the snow and ice I think about just lying down and not going any further… going to sleep, and maybe not having to wake up again. None of these are me particularly wanting to die, but I tend not to really care if that happens as a result. This is also where I’m most likely to hurt myself, partly because I know that pain will wake up that instinctive part of my mind that says “no, actually, you don’t want this!”
I don’t know what other people feel, so I don’t know how much of this is felt by everyone and just dealt with. I don’t know how many people feel it and assume that I don’t, because I don’t talk about it. I do know that there are days or weeks when that feeling in my head isn’t there, and no matter what shit happens they’re still wonderful, even when I’m miserable, because miserable isn’t the same as depressed. On days like that I think “This is what life could be!”
Anyway, thanks to anyone who reads this, and I hope it does something to help you to understand why sometimes I seem distant, or twitchy, or react angrily or get upset when you can’t see any reason for it. I also hope that it doesn’t worry you too much. This has been a part of my life now for as long as I can remember. I can remember having these feelings and problems when I was in primary school, for certain, so it’s been at least 16 years and I’m still coping. And the longer I do it the better I get at it, and the more I have that I “know” to hold me through when I don’t “believe”.
I also have two things now that I didn’t have back then. The first is anti-depressants (they really do help, even if they can’t “fix” it), and the other is a hell of a lot more awesome friends!