What with all the ups and downs lately, I’ve had to deal a lot with depression.
I mean, first I was going out of freelancing…now I’m not.
You’d think that that was a good thing–and it is–but I think the change in hope vs. despair is what triggers depression for me, and it was a big change.
I had to deal with it on a daily basis to the point that when I get up in the morning now, I assess whether I’m depressed and if so, deal with it right away. Because otherwise I’m not going to get anything done.
As I dealt with depression on a regular basis, it became less intrinsic to me. I wasn’t depressed: I had depression. It felt like having a cold or a case of food poisoning, rather than a part of my pointless, useless personality.
Now when I catch myself thinking things like “you suck as a writer” or “why bother–you’ll just @#$% it up” I don’t think of them as my thoughts. They’re symptoms. Like having a sore throat.
And instead I think, “Gosh, I better head off that depression; I don’t want to be dragging for a couple of days.”
That’s good, too.
But the more I deal with depression, the more I’m starting to see that it’s just an end state in a cycle: the thing that almost always comes right before it is anxiety.
It’s weird thinking about anxiety as a sickness. I feel like being a worry-wort is a fundamental part of my personality most of the time. I know it isn’t; I have my confident, brilliant, wonderful moments.
But those wonderful moments almost always trigger anxiety.
For some reason a bunch of thoughts collided yesterday, and this morning I woke up going, “Anxiety comes from externalizing self-approval.”
Translation: I am anxious because I’m trying to make Someone Else happy.
It’s not anyone in particular; it changes. The important thing is that when I decide what to do, I don’t think, “What would make me happy?” Most of the time. Mostly I go, “I can’t do that.”
That ranges from “I can’t eat out” to “I can’t work on my project right now” to “I can’t talk to so-and-so.”
I have a censor, a bully inside me. And when I have a “can’t” about one thing, it starts throwing its weight around so that everything I do turns into a “can’t.”
It’s a nuclear bomb of fear, a chain reaction that ends in…depression.
Depression, strangely, works as a safety valve for me, to turn off the cascade. By becoming numb, by making every action an uphill climb, depression stops my out-of-control spiral.
In order to stop the depression from starting (or at least cut back on it), I need to stop the chain-reaction of anxiety.
There is no Someone Else out there who needs me to fail, who will be angry if I try.
There is no Someone Else out there that I need to give all my power to.
There is no Someone Else who gets to punish me; I certainly don’t need to punish myself in the hope that it’ll be less than what the Someone Else does to me.
I am not being watched with cruel eyes, judged at every second.
I am not betraying Someone Else by being myself.
…and anyone who says different is doing so in order to accomplish some purpose in which it’s better that I’m smaller, shyer, more anxious, more depressed, quieter, more damaged, more hurt.
Sadly, a lot of people say different. They don’t mean to. I didn’t mean to: but now I have to watch what comes out of my mouth, what my body language says.
You’re not good enough. I judge you. If only you wore better clothes. You wear too much perfume. Why don’t you stand up straight? This place is a mess. You’re just being a jerk. If you think that, you must be crazy. What have you done to your hair? Swearing is for people with weak vocabularies. People suck. Get out of my @#$%^&’ way. [Insert sarcastic response here.] If you disagree with me, then it’s funny to insult you. My pain is more important than yours. Men. Women. Too fat. Rude. You are not enough.
It’s like we made this group decision: it’s better to be anxious and worry about making Someone Else happy than it is to be responsible for our own happiness.