In an enlightened (!) world these topics are still heavily debated and yet kept in the dark. It amazes me. If you are mentally ill or depressed or anxious or anything then you are stigmatised and pushed aside. Cynically, it has become a “go-to” fall back when we can’t describe the feelings inside us.
I am one who suffers from depression and anxiety but you would never say that if you met me. I read this article today and it struck a chord. You see I am one of those over achievers. I am driven to achieve, to succeed and to prove everyone wrong. I can handle my depression. I can push back at my anxiety enough that you won’t see it unless you get very close.
Why? I was taught from a young age that showing one’s emotions in public or even in front of family was wrong. Anxiety was just a means to get out of one’s duty and one never did that. Depression meant that you were not socialising enough – spending time alone in your bedroom is not a good thing. You need to be seen. You need to get over your awkwardness and get out there.
Of course the biggest no-no was suicide. Anyone who went down this path was selfish. You were not thinking about your family, you were not thinking about your work, or the paramedics, or the doctor, or <insert any number of people here>. You were thinking of yourself and that is just not allowed because you come last.
In order to fit in I did the opposite of what is the norm. I went through a period of slacking and I really fit the profile, but because it wasn’t acknowledged it was missed. So I became the over achiever. I made sure I pushed longer and harder than anyone else. I fought for every single win. Nothing was easy – if there was a simpler path, I deliberately took the harder one. I still do.
Every single moment has been one of denial and lack of acceptance of my mental state. If I think I can’t then I deliberately go out to do it. Fuck it, I want to be normal!! Any breakdown, tears, whatever was done in private – hidden even from those closest to me. If I made a mistake and opened up, I quickly got out of the relationship and I learned not to form any. When I couldn’t get out of the relationship, I learned to gloss over those things. So much better to hide in the open.
I did break. It wasn’t pretty and it was just before my 41st birthday. I got to a point where I simply had nothing more to give and it was simpler and easier to end it all. I had nothing and when I say that I mean nothing. It was empty, hollow and my soul was dead. Every attempt to get myself back up that particular day had no meaning. Not even my family. There was no pain. I was devoid of any emotion.
That paragraph doesn’t come close to describing the desolation.
I did the medication route and again I touched that depth of desolation – it was better to stop. I go through life now a day at a time. I plan, I make arrangements but I know that the desolation is just there. I can’t say that I fight because I don’t. I overachieve instead. I go out of my way to push my limits so that I am always busy, always distracted and always one step ahead. I don’t have a 4.0 GPA, fuck I am lucky to get a 2.5 or 3.
It’s the fact that I am taking on more. I function because there is no other option.
Suicide is not selfish, it really is just the last option in a whole long list of things you have tried to that point. Depression and anxiety may be buzz words that a lot of people use in order not to face reality, and doctors just prescribe medication but it is a reality. Maybe if we discussed these issues properly, it would be less of the buzz and more of the acceptance and understanding.
My opinion: Feelings are meant to be managed. Some require medication, others require just a little discipline. If we let our emotions rule us then we will never get to where we want to be. It doesn’t matter what that emotion is. We need to teach ourselves and our children how to control their emotions. How to learn to understand what it is they are saying and how to change that circumstance. Then we may have less people on medication and a quieter, safer world.
That’s a very idealistic viewpoint I know. There are those who function with no emotion at all and are by no means peaceful! So here it i snot about extremes of personality who do require medical assistance – it is about the general population. The you and me type who can learn to control our emotions.
That was my life lesson young – you do not show your emotion. You go somewhere private and get it out and then you re-enter with no-one being any the wiser. Now, I am honest and open when my emotions are close, and I inform those around me and then I step away. It is, in my mind, fair for them to know that they have elicited a response, but not fair for me to react on it. We then deal with the aftermath once everyone has control.
I am still depressed and anxious. Suicide is still something I think on. I deal with these issues every single day. I just learn to manage myself without chemical castration. Through my own choice because the desolation is far scarier than death.
If you require help or know someone who does – please do contact LifeLine or any person you feel safe with. It is better to talk, even if talking means you are curled up with someone who is just willing to be with you. Alone is not always necessary.