Friday, July 31, 2009

Strange encouragement

I've been in an odd state of mind lately. I can't really feel anything at all. It's as if my mind is taking emotional pain killers. It's a relief from stress and anxiety, but it's also just empty. I'm in a state of mental purgatory. It's not really good or bad... It's just nothing.

I spent a large portion of tonight reading other people's blogs. I teared up while reading the blog of an abuse victim. It has been six months since I shed a tear, and that was after a mild rage attack (I was angry at myself, I'm very good about not getting angry with others). I read her story and my heart broke. What was odd however, was after reading through her anguish and torment, knowing that she was still here, able to articulate her pain and express it on the internet was actually inspirational.

My problems did not seem so insurmountable after that. My insecurities, my inability to function properly in social settings, my incapacity to experience joy or happiness, my self-loathing and sincere hatred of my life, my constant stress and anxiety, my utter and absolute failure to become the person I have spent the last 20+ years trying to become, my hopelessly permanent loneliness, the constant aura of misery eroding my mental and emotional being that never seems to go away, these things all seemed to pale in comparison to the atrocities some people are forced to endure.

My life certainly has not been a fairy tale, but at the same time I have never been raped, molested, or abused. I would say the absence of joy and goodness seems preferable to the presence of evil and terror. It seems better to fail to be human than to be crushed by humanity. If it's possible for them to live after the hardships they've endured, certainly there is a future for me.

My readings have also called to mind the possibilities opened by our sufferings. Suffering is never a blessing, however the growth that comes from our sufferings may certainly be used to bless others going experiencing what we have already experienced. In this way, it almost seems necessary for someone to suffer, that they might help someone else. Truth be told, I would not trade all my suffering in for a normal, happy life if my experience can be used to help someone else.

For those of you who read the Bible, the verse Hebrews 2:18 came to mind.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


It seems humans were designed to improve what was given to them. Give a human a block of wood and it will be carved into shape or figure. Give a human a patch of dirt and it will be made into a garden. It's something humans do very well. What we don't do is create, and what we don't aspire for is destruction. In the technical sense, everything a man does is an improvement, not a creation. At best, the improvement will be a manifestation of an idea, but the improvement itself will still only be a modification of provided tools. Painters paint on paper, with oils. We do not create from nothing. To an important degree, a builder is only as good as the tools being used. Great men do much with little. Weak men do nothing with much. There is no blame for the man who was given nothing and produced nothing.

A person can partially measure himself/herself not by what has been created, but what he/she has done with what he/she has been given. What's hard for me is to see how little I've done, while it seems I've been given so much. We wonder why suicide rates are higher in America than in some poverty stricken countries. I'm sure it partially has to do with Maslow's hierarchy of needs and failing to meet key aspects. I think another part of it is that they've been given so little, they aren't disappointed when they struggle to bring home food, they are too proud when they finally acquire food to worry about how easy it is for us. However, maybe Americans (I am particularly guilty of this) see how easy everything is for us to get, and when we see how little we've done with our opportunity it leads us to feel like failures. This is just a thought.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

July 28... is not about me.

July 28 is the date of my birthday. You probably noticed that July 28 is also today's date. When I was a child, birthdays were big celebrations where I had all my family and "friends" (so everyone I knew) over and there was a big party with cake, presents, and events. Now there's no cake, there's no party, and today there won't even be any friends, because the closest one lives about an hour away. There won't even be any family, because my closest family member lives 7 hours away. This year there will be only a drink at a bar, sitting alone, toasting myself to getting through one more year.

Here's the thing, in every situation an individual can either find something good or something bad. Being who I am, I naturally see everything what's wrong with the situation. One of the things I do that has allowed me to make it through to another birthday is forcing myself to see what's good, even in a bad situation. I may not feel it, I may not naturally notice it, but if I force myself, I can always find something. I don't enjoy doing this. I never want to do this. Sometimes I despise doing it, but I force myself to because I KNOW it helps me retain my sanity. It's not what I feel, but what I know to be true that sustains me.

Here is the good, the positive, the reason to keep on that I have found today, in the bleakness of my birthday:
I have driven hours to visit friends on their birthdays. I have rallied up groups to take kids out on their birthdays. At the very least, I have always at least forced a person out of the house, and celebrated with a drink or meal as a reminder to them that it was his or her birthday. These things are difficult for me to do (I'm not naturally the most energetic person in the world, and I almost always spend the whole time pretending to be in a good mood), but I do them because I know everyone appreciates being appreciated. So here I am, on my birthday, with no one else around, and no one is coming. After celebrating so many birthdays, it's easy to get down when no one comes for yours, but there is an upside. This event does remind me of one of life's truths that has helped me make it this far: It's not about me.

When my life revolves around me I notice my misery snowballs out of control. Sadness begets sadness. When I can only focus on myself, all I see is sadness and anger, and that does nothing more than fill me with a dark, frustrated rage. However, (this is what my birthday has reminded me) when I focus on other people it has a two pronged effect. First, it takes my eyes off of myself, and the rage that is born from seeing my hopeless struggles is transformed into empathy for others. Second, helping others gives me a reason to be. I don't care about myself. In fact, sometimes I hate myself for who I am and what I've allowed myself to become, but I do care about other people. I am not a reason for me to keep going, but other people can be. Sometimes, on the worst of days, the only thing keeping me going is knowing somewhere out there is some person that I might be able to help, and without me they may never see that help, even if it is as small as taking them out for their birthday. I may not feel these things, but I do know them.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Suppression: A Ticking Time Bomb or a Strong Defense?

I've been accused of repressing my emotion, bottling it up. I've been told I should express my true emotions, if not to the whole world, at least to a close friend (the cynic in me wonders if these people telling me this wish to be "the close friend" I choose to disclose my emotions to, if only to satisfy their curiosity and develop a deeper understanding of me; it is a paranoid thought, I know, but it is at least grounded in personal experiences from the past).

These people will ask, "Are you TRULY happy?" To be honest, I can't remember the last time I could honestly answer "yes" to that question, however, saying "no" merits at least a thirty minute conversation with someone about one of my problems which they can do nothing about. Is it really such a bad thing to say no? Is it my responsibility to myself and my emotional stability to answer "yes", and pour out my heart? I feel like it's not.

What's more, having such discussions only reminds me I'm not the person I wish I was. I am blessed in that I am not always consciously aware of my misery. It is similar to physical pain. A broken leg will cause a consistent, dull pain, all the time. It is possible for the owner of such a leg to take his mind off of that pain through other activities (or other forms of pain). Asking him how his leg feels makes him focus on the pain again. Trying to use the leg will amplify the levels pain he is feeling by several orders of magnitude. In the same way, when someone asks me how I'm feeling (on a good day), it reminds me of the constant, never ending, dull misery that is always around me. However, having a conversation about my emotions and trying to work through them is about as pleasant as walking on a broken leg. It only aggravates the injury, and I will continue to feel the effects from the freshly opened wounds for several days.

Can I exist in the superficial? Can I survive on ignorant happiness? Is it not better to let sleeping dogs lie?

If I've found one thing to work, and another to fail; it seems reasonable then to go with what works. Choosing the lesser of two evils is never ideal; however, neither is life. Suppressing emotion is not the answer, I know this, but at the same time, what's the point of poking a bruise if it only reminds you that it still hurts?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

No Medications

It's been about six years now that I've been "different". Not every day is unbearable, but happy days are few and far between. I had hoped when I left for college that I had outgrown depression, but now, years later, it does not seem to be going anywhere. Some days, the mere hopelessness of the situation can be overwhelming. However, I have made the decision not to take medication.

In high school, I figured I could push through depression to the other side and get to happier days, and so there was no need to start medication. Now is different. Now I'm beginning to see there may not be another side to this. It might never completely end. So why am I not taking medication? There are multiple reasons, but one in particular is that I don't want to spend what could potentially be the rest of my life dependent on a drug. I want to beat this myself.

I know I've been dealt a shit hand. Feeling emotionally numb is not a good thing, yet I welcome it; feeling nothing is better than misery. I know I have to do something. However, I don't want that "something" to be relying on drugs to balance my moods, and, as time moves forward, I've noticed I'm slowly learning how to deal with this on my own. Grueling exercise (within reason), a healthy diet and vitamins (particularly vitamin B), studying my problems (I'm minoring in psychology), constant human interaction, forcing myself out of the house (even if there's nowhere to go). All these things help me suppress the constant misery surrounding me. I might never beat it, but I just might be able to live with it. Some might say suppressing misery is bad, but I'll save that for another post.

The down side to this is that I'm now more susceptible to using and abusing illegal drugs, the constant stress and anxiety that come from a life of depression is hard on my heart, and then there's always the depression itself constantly sitting on my shoulders with its icy fingers wrapped around my heart. This is my life...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A First Time for Everything

Everyone has to start somewhere. I'm starting here. If I've learned nothing else in life, I've found one of the most important skills for a person to have is to be able to remain steadfast in his/her endeavors in the face of difficulty and failure. I have tried many times to come to grips with my current situation, my depression, my anger, my hopelessness; though I have failed before, I have hope in my ability to rise from my failures and try again. This is what sustains me.

Though we may not always succeed in our efforts, we haven't lost until we lose the will to try. We can only lose when we allow ourselves to lose. This is the one thing in my life I do have control over.