Music Monday: Personal

These are all songs that I have connected with on a very personal level. I’ve struggled with depression and something that may be more than depression. I’ve experienced loss, struggle, betrayal, pain, and acceptance. It’s made me stronger, sharper, and difficult. My life is finally in a better, more stable place but it’s not perfect.

Turning Tables by ADELE
If the World Didn’t Suck by Aqua
Bad Blood by Taylor Swift (w/o Kendrick Lamar)
Tricky by Fitz and the Tantrums
Real Girls by Chantal Claret
Dark Side by Kelly Clarkson
Northern Star by Melanie C
Brave by Josh Groban
Supposed to Be by Icon for Hire
Throne by Bring Me the Horizon
Cynics and Critics by Icon for Hire
Faster by Within Temptation
Fin by Anberlin
Break In by Halestorm
The Only Exception by Paramore

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2016 Books 9 & 10

I told you it wouldn’t be long before a haul. I’ve posted before about how I discovered To Write Love on Her Arms at Firefly. They had copies of the book but the pages got that wave when the book has been exposed to too much damp. I waited and bought these two from their website. If You Feel Too Much is by TWLOHA founder and A Purpose for the Pain is by the arms on which love is written.

I was hoping Purpose would be written out like your average book but it’s instead a literal publishing Renee’s journal entries. Not quite what I was expecting but I hope it will still be insightful.

As for why I acquired these books, Boyfriend has done some research and he suspects I don’t just have depression. After hearing him out and doing my own research, I’m inclined to agree. We both suspect I have a mild form of Borderline Personality Disorder. BPD is a much maligned illness that doesn’t have a clear definition. Each case is different since it stands on the borders of a few different things.

An official diagnoses must come from a professional so how true this is remains to be seen. But I’m prone to impulse purchases, depressive/Bad Days, mild moments of OCD-type urges, short fuses/bad tempers, and am well aware of my trust issues. Extreme forms of BPD often involve recklessness and self-harm. While never inclined to it personally, I appreciate where the self-harm comes from. Those people have so much pain and anguish that externalizing it provides an emotional release, however short lived.

In addition to being relevant to my interests, maybe these will shed some light on what I’ve been experiencing.

Richer Reading Life Book #1

I’m opening the books section with The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, a book by a woman. I’ve dealt with depression for many years but I’ve done it pretty quietly since very few people I know understand the complexity of what that means. I wanted to dive into a book that was written by someone who understood that struggle. Despite dying several decades before I was born, Sylvia Plath gets it.

The struggle for Esther (the protagonist) is that there is nothing particularly wrong in her life but she can’t read or sleep. She’s deeply unhappy and no one around her appreciates what her ailment means. This was back in the days of shock treatment and a suicide attempt meant being institutionalized. While I squirmed hearing Esther talk about slashing her wrists, I’m glad there is something out there for ordinary folks to understand what this all means.

I love the quote explaining the title: “If Mrs. Guinea had given me a ticket to Europe, or a round-the-world cruise, it wouldn’t have made one scrap of difference to me, because wherever I sat—on the deck of a ship or at a street café in Paris or Bangkok—I would be sitting under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air.” Put us in the most perfect place in the world with the best people and our brain chemicals will prevent us from enjoying it.

She also nails the fear every person with a mental illness struggles with: “How did I know that someday—at college, in Europe, somewhere, anywhere—the bell jar, with its stifling distortions, wouldn’t descend again?” We live our lives knowing that if the medication changes or a big life event happens, we can go back to that dark place. We don’t live in fear but can never forget that is an ever lurking possibility in our lives.

Plath died tragically young, by suicide, leaving this as her only novel. I have her collection of journal entries and her collected poetry on my birthday wish list so we’ll see what happens. I want to explore more of her work because there’s something beautiful in someone’s words reaching across space, time, and death to make someone else feel understood.

Boom

I don’t think most people appreciate how deeply depression messes with your head.

Boyfriend and I went shooting a while back. At one point, I looked down at the gun in my hand and realized something. All I had to do was put the barrel to my temple, pull the trigger and boom. No more me.

Boyfriend has had a similar realization but his was “This thing is really dangerous. I could really hurt somebody with this.” When he realized the dangerous power of the weapon in his hand, he was concerned about his ability to hurt other people. I was concerned about my ability to hurt myself.

I had no intention of harming myself that day. Regardless, I put the gun down and let Boyfriend take a turn. The most dangerous person to a depressed person is ourselves.

Every person in a deep depression has thought about the merits of different methods of suicide. Which one would hurt less? What about clean up? We are capable of doing this without the intention of follow through or without the knowledge that this is unusual behavior. I could have a completely normal conversation about why I favor pills to a gas oven or razor blades, go home, and not do it.

I could have a perfectly normal day after that. Hell, I might have a better day I don’t have to pretend that doesn’t live inside my mind.

This is what the despair, suffering, and darkness do to our minds. We don’t get why that freaks other people out. That is totally normal to us but we can never explain ourselves to typical people so we have to pretend to be normal which is exhausting.

Suppressing this part of us instead of acknowledging it makes us feel more isolated and broken. It may terrify you to think about these things but this is what we live with all the time.

Imagine what has to happen in our heads to make that normal. Really, truly think about what went on to make the abstract thought of self-harm OK. Then stop denying the part of us because it scares you. We’re not in love with it either but we’ve accepted it’s there and try to not let it take over.

Acceptance isn’t pretending it’s not there, nodding and changing the subject, ignoring it, or opting out of dealing with us until we’re ‘happier.’ Acceptance is letting us fucking talk about it without judging us. If you can’t handle that, then you can’t handle us.

The internet is a very small place indeed

I had something very unexpected happen recently.

I don’t get a lot of human contact at my current place of employ so I’ve been supplementing that with time on reddit. My reddit name, much like this, has a piece of my real name in it. However the username was popular enough that I had to mess around with underscores and numbers to find an incarnation I liked.

I tell more or less the truth since reddit is a huge site with people from all over the world. If you knew me in real life and found the right posts at the time right time, you’d have cause to wonder. But what are the odds that someone from my real life would find something I posted, connect the non-specific dots, and discover me?

High. The odds are very high.

I have been butting heads with a couple in my group of friends, Bella & Edward. All parties are stubborn and opinionated so this is not shocking. After our last flare up, I’d been giving them a wide berth. When Bella asked me to get together and clear the air, I wondered why. I became even more curious after I got a present. Wasn’t she supposed to be mad at me?

It turns out she saw a post I made on an Ask Reddit about the lie you were living. I was having a bad day with my depression. Nothing serious but I was struggling a bit. I posted in reddit about how a few months back, I was at a beach weekend with 12 of my friends and I should have been insanely happy. Instead I spent a lot of the weekend dealing with the urge to take my own life.

As I’ve said before, if you know the people around you have never seen depression up close and personal, they aren’t fully capable of understanding what it can do to you. I was not in control of what I was feeling. Once I realized being around people who were having the time of their lives was not helping, I took myself out of the situation. BF came to check on me and he knew what was going on. I just curled into a ball in my room and asked him to tell everyone I wasn’t feeling great. Nobody questioned it.

Instead of brushing it off like most people would have, Bella started connecting the dots. She poked around my user history enough to figure out it was me. She remembered that at a certain point that evening, I just disappeared. I was gobsmacked. I had been found out by someone who should not have been overly fond of me and it broke her heart to realize my struggle. You could have knocked me over with a feather.

She talked about how I was so lively that it never occurred to anyone this was what I was dealing with. I’d been open about having depression but now she really saw what that meant. Despite giving me a hard time, she wanted me to know I was loved and I had someone else on my team. Feels were had, bridges mended.

I had been found out and that person responded in exactly the way that I needed. We may argue over relatively stupid shit but she was the kind of person I needed once she saw all of what was there. That means a lot.

We’ll see where we go from here. I haven’t been to that dark of a place in a few months. I still have bad days now and again but nothing that some time in a corner hasn’t seen pass. I’m hoping I’m out of the woods on that for now.

How Did I Get to Alone?

I have struggled with depression off and on for most of my life. Sometimes it’s worse than others but more people need to talk about what ails them so that healthy people can better appreciate what we’re going through.

Regular people don’t understand how much this illness does to people. It’s more than just a ‘bad day.’ It robs you of the ability to feel joy. It saps your energy and puts such a spin on your mental state that you’re not in total control anymore. Because it’s such a personal feeling and experience, it is a very isolating illness.

Depression is isolating not only because of how it makes you feel but how it makes the people around you feel.

A lot of people don’t want to get that close. They know you have a problem but if they acknowledge it, they might have to deal with it. They don’t want to know what you’re dealing with.

If you try to tell the wrong person, you figure it out pretty quickly because they shut you down. They deny what you’re trying to tell them, dismiss it, minimize it. They jump through a lot of socially acceptable hoops to ensure this doesn’t become something they have to deal with. They want no responsibility for your mental health.

Of the few who don’t happily leap toward denial, you have to decide how much you let them see. What can they handle? What can you count on them for? Did you make a mistake picking them?

Getting support from people who can’t see the depth of your struggle often makes it worse. They offer suggestions but they’re the suggestions of people who don’t understand the bad days can last for weeks at a time. Positive words and kitten videos don’t cut it when you’re contemplating what’s tying you to this earth. How do you explain to someone their off bad day is sometimes the best you can hope for?

What happens if you let someone see how deep the rabbit hole goes and they can’t or  won’t deal with it?

They’ve never ‘casually’ contemplated suicide. Which method hurts less? Which has the easiest cleanup? How do you make sure you’re found? Ridiculous reasons to ignore the urges like a new movie, unread book, or upcoming holiday. How can you make them understand?

You can’t.

They can’t handle your negativity in their life. They don’t believe you really want to get better. They get sick of the impotence of being unable to help. Worst of all? Some just don’t care.

Rather than risk adding all of this to your burden, you keep it to yourself. You get burned by the uninitiated enough times, you eventually stop asking for their help. Why ruin a relationship by giving that person the chance to do something you won’t be able to forgive or forget?

You already feel alone in your experiences. Sometimes it’s easier to try to bear it alone than feel abandoned by your supports.