Sometimes I think I want to retrain as a therapist. Other times are like today. I can’t imagine ever having to sit with someone as hopelessly depressed as I am. I hate myself intensely and I’m not sure how I could find compassion for a person like me.
Today I didn’t want to speak. I loathed my words before they even reached my tongue. There was just a swirling mass of bile in my brain that I didn’t want to share with anyone, not even J. I don’t want to possess those thoughts. I’m ashamed and disgusted by them. I am scared of some of them. For whatever reason, I wanted to avoid confessing to their existence.
I wonder occasionally whether I could get by if I totally shut down on myself. I’m stubborn when I need to be and I’m pretty sure I could convince myself not to think a certain way if I made the effort. After all, it worked for almost 20 years of my life.
My psychiatrist describes depression as the mind ‘blowing a fuse’. He says that you can only load so much stress into the circuit before that failsafe is triggered. He probably does have a point. I know I can’t go on denying my feelings, to myself, my wife, J or my family. Not indefinitely. Not without another breakdown and all that entails. I literally wouldn’t survive it.
In therapy today I kept retreating to my withdrawn place. I go silent and my only cohesive thought is generally a lyric from a song I’ve listened to on my walk to J’s. It’s dissociation for sure. I know if I stay focused on those few words I can remain guarded against what really wants to come up.
Of course, J knows this. She recognises when I am cutting myself off and trying not to feel. But I get so bored of telling her that what I feel is despair. I don’t want to keep repeating how much I despise myself. It’s an old strategy of isolating myself in the darkness, for fear of what sharing it would mean. As a child, that was protecting my parents from my feelings. I thought if I could make sure they were OK, it wouldn’t matter that I wasn’t. That’s a behaviour that is deeply ingrained.
J always says she sees a conflict in me. She calls it; ‘I want to have an impact / I don’t want to have an impact’. I want my parents to change, but I don’t want to hurt them. So I wedge myself in a hopelessly stuck place going back and forth between the two. She often reminds me that if I don’t voice what is going on for me, we can’t work through it. I know that, but I’m still trying to deny I even have those thoughts.
Rage is one that I really push down. I know it’s there. J knows it’s there. But I see no point in ranting about it. I can’t stand how angry I am, so I work really hard to ignore it. Today she asked me about my anger and it just made me feel sadder and more emotional. I don’t want to be an angry person. I particularly don’t want to be angry at my family. So I try and avoid talking about it. I have no idea how I can ever reconcile with my parents, grandparents and all our family friends who let me down so significantly when I was a child. If I start acknowledging the anger, I get scared I won’t ever move forward.
I called this post ‘hold on hope’, because that song has been playing in my head since I got home this evening. It’s a tune by Guided by Voices, with a few pertinent lines that are stuck with me; ‘Everybody’s got a hold on hope, It’s the last thing that’s holding me’. I feel like everyone who cares about me is holding hope on my behalf, and that’s all that holds me right now. I don’t feel it, but I need it. And I know that’s what I have to find to get through this – hope for myself.
Photo: Sean McGrath, Creative Commons.