…or how I learned to stop suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune.
If you know me, you know that I suffer from clinical depression. It can get pretty severe. I spent the vast majority of 2012 avoiding suicide (it appears successfully) and from time to time enter a depressive cycle that drives my wife batty.
Well, it’s back. Apologies to people around me, but I am unconsolable. I can even get downright mean and chase people away who are trying to help. I believe I am safe from harming myself, a behaviorist I was seeing about a year and a half ago gave me a little fact that has steered me away from that particular path since then. Usually behaviorists are at best quacks in my estimation– they address the symptom. Feel bad? Start feeling good! A wag the dog approach that has sent me repeatedly back into therapy since the mid-nineties because I never address what’s bothering me. Regardless, he told me that committing suicide increases the likelihood of people even peripherally familiar with the victim/perpetrator by 60%. I started thinking about the neighbor kids who I knew, grandchildren here and unborn, friends and acquaintances and felt that was an awful legacy to leave behind. A trail of dead bodies, when I was not interested in punishing or “showing” somebody was not what I wanted. I did not wish to hurt anyone by my (as I called it) “checking out”, I just wanted to be out of the game– I was and often still am just interested in no longer being a player.
When I see the therapist who manages my medication (joy!) asks me if I have thought of harming myself or others could stop at “myself” because I don’t even consider hurting other people. If psychopathology is anger turned outward on others, then I am certainly a neuropath in the old psychological parlance. All my destructive behaviors are focused on the true villain– me. After him!
When I am in such a state as I am now, I can do nothing right. I see everything as further evidence of what I already know– that I am no good. I feel everyone is (rightfully) interested in severing all ties with me, getting me out of their lives and business, and I do everything in my power to accommodate them whether they indeed feel that way or not (unlikely).
I know, I shouldn’t feel that way, but intellectualizing the circumstances does not alleviate them. Intellectualization is a trap in itself, one that too easily leads to excusing my own behavior.
What usually triggers these episodes is the introduction of evidence by other people to support my self-loathing. A joke here, an email snub there, and I’m off to the races. Then I feel trapped, in a vicious cycle in which I cannot find anything that helps me break out of it.
By and large, I’d say I’m much luckier to be a neurotic than a psychopath, as it limits the blast zone to that limited area: me. Oddly enough, a comforting thought that helps me get along is that I am a failure and that I must just learn to cope with it.
I certainly feel like one.