Confessionals. Or, a slightly different look at the effects of depression.
Anyone who has met me in the last two to three years came away with various impressions of me. One of these impressions, I have very little doubt, is that I am pointedly and apparently obliviously irritating.
I don’t say this in the hope of having it refuted; I see myself in the mirror every day. I’m a girl that wears two-piece suits. My sexuality is rare enough to be dismissed as contrarian. I frequently swig from a bourbon-filled hip-flask. Skyler is my favourite Breaking Bad character. I make sarcastic comments and unfunny jokes almost compulsively. If I was a man I’d probably have a neckbeard.
I’ve no intention of apologising for most of this: I wear suits because I like them and I look okay; asexuality is too much hassle to just be rebellious; I like whiskey; fuck you, Skyler is awesome. I would like to set a few assumptions about the final point straight.
First assumption: that I’m oblivious to the fact everyone around me is begging me to either develop laryngitis or otherwise be subject to a spontaneous event involving Jeffrey Dahmer and a staple gun. I can assure the world at large that I know I need to shut up, I know I’m not funny and the majority of laughter I do get is out of politeness, and I know all of the above is multiplied tenfold when I drink, which is frequently. Basically the only thing people around me have to be thankful for is that I can’t afford a coke habit.
So why don’t I just pipe down like a normal person? There are three reasons: the particular condition I have, the medication and other non-chemical means of dealing with this condition, and the memory of what it was like before treatment.
To say I have depression is only part of the story, in the same way a cheese and ham sandwich isn’t just a cheese sandwich. The condition I have is best described as a less extreme version of bipolar known as cyclothymia; less chance of suicide attempts and impulsive decisions, but no less debilitating. This results in my draining every possible second of energy out of the days when I’m ‘manic’ (i.e. exceptionally energetic and confident) because once that wave crashes down again nothing will get done and I’ll be less than half of the person I was. Essentially, I’m trying to make up for the part of me that won’t be around for a while in a couple of months.
Medication has calmed me down considerably; my highs are less high and my lows are less low, but they’re still present. Because they’re still present, anyone with any mental health condition has a number of internal coping mechanisms to manage themselves. My primary one, which ties in with my existential ethos, is convincing myself – and, subsequently, the outside world – that I don’t give a fuck what anyone thinks of me and I’ll behave as I choose regardless.
I proved this to be false the second I started writing this blog.
I’m not remotely self-obsessed, arrogant or callous – I learned long ago that the one person I could never make like me is myself. I can list countless social situations that I’ve left without notice and desire to, because my internal monologue’s vitriol overpowered any good vibrations from my companions until the feeling of not being wanted became unbearable. This has been a constant for my entire life, but has recently happened a lot less frequently.
Here is where mental health medication is so often misunderstood – it doesn’t make you better; it doesn’t even get rid of whatever is telling you you’re worthless. What it does do is mute that dialogue enough that you can get on with your life and do something. I have never regretted staying in a place my mind was forcing me to leave. I have regretted almost every invitation I’ve rejected and early night I’ve excused.
Eventually, I came to realise: I was going to be unhappy on some level whether I didn’t participate, whether I did participate with minimal effort, or whether I threw everything I had into something. But throwing everything I had into it and leaving the consequences until later made me considerably less unhappy. I would still think of stupid jokes, comments and observations if I didn’t say them aloud, but the 0.001% chance of amusing someone is better than the 0% chance that comes from not saying them.
In short: I spent half of my life caring too much and it didn’t make me happy. Caring less has made me happier.
I wasn’t sure what my intentions for this blog were, and I’m still not sure now. I suppose what I want to say is that being me is to be a twenty-three year old standing between a cheerful, eager to please and generally liked seven year old and a nihilistic twelve year old, both of whom are convinced they know best. And both of whom I have been at some point in my life. The twenty-three year old I am now knows they are both right and both wrong.
I sought help for my condition three years ago – I’m new to all this. I know I’m irritating, because I’m still learning my limits. Please give me time, and understand that the voice in my head often needs a much louder and persistent one to drown it out.