i have feelings.

Monday, August 23, 2010

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that I’m a girl full of feelings. Hell, it’s the thesis of this entire blog. Feelings, feelings, feelings.

Recently, a friend kindly broke the news to me that I “might be depressed.” No. I am definitely depressed. Depression runs in my family (although the most Irish Catholic of our clan would totally deny it) and I’ve suffered from it as long as I can remember (and I mean that - I have memories in pre-school walking alone behind a big group of trees, hoping and praying that my mom or dad would drive by and see how miserable I was). Most of the time it’s completely manageable, almost like a little game I play with myself to see how even-keeled I can stay before everything explodes in my face again. It might sound like I’m playing with my mental health or something, but in actuality, it’s pretty much how I am able to survive.

I’ve done the medication thing (freshman/sophomore/part of junior year of college when my depression had manifested into a beast with multiple heads, arms and legs; this, in turn, led to a seemingly incurable case of panic disorder, which I struggle with to this day, as well as an on-again/off-again affair with severe agoraphobia), which I eventually quit cold turkey and, surprisingly, I felt instant relief. I was in therapy at the same time for about three years, to help cope with some of the worst mentally abusive relationships I’ve ever had. I don’t particularly think that either of those things have been as helpful to me as much as just working through things on my own, allowing the natural changes that happen in a calendar year to build up my happiness and excitement for the future.

Most of my life has been dictated by this depression. My constant need to self-actualize, the writing, the comedy, the traveling, the partying, the impulsive decision making— all of these things build walls around my depression, almost giving it a reason to live there, justifying it. If I wasn’t depressed, would people still find me funny? Would I still see things the same way? Would I drown myself in music and design? Would I manage to be successful if I didn’t have the urge to constantly improve myself? Would I want to improve myself if I didn’t hate myself so much? Do I even really hate myself?

All of this came to mind last night when I was reading a blog written about living with his wife’s depression.

I was moved by this piece because it was able to reassure me, at least a little, that I don’t have to die alone because of this stuff. There’s someone who will be able to handle all that I entail and that I won’t be afraid to show it all to (at this point in my life, it’s been monumentally difficult for me to speak up when needed and explain my situation fully - this is my own fault, and has nothing to do with the support systems currently in my life). Also, it made me a little sad to think that there’s no way that anyone who ever spends their life with me will ever have a normal life. I am the kind of person that you occasionally have to struggle to tolerate, let alone live with, just on the sheer fact of my agoraphobia being SO out of control at times that I can’t even leave my own room… but I also realized that that’s probably not the worst thing in the world to some people.

I’m sure there are plenty of professionals who would disagree with my tactics, but living with depression/agoraphobia is something that I’ve grown to realize is completely manageable most of the time. And you guys? I mean it when I say I am really happy with how things have turned out in my life and the progress I’ve made. I have done more in 24 years of living than a lot of people, and I am grateful, in a lot of ways, for my depression pushing me in greater directions. But, I remind myself daily that my happiness is a choice (albeit not chemically, but in my attitude and the way I approach things) and there are always plenty of worse moments in my life to reflect on to gain perspective. After a while, you realize all broken hearts, failures and disappointments have different faces, but all the same traits. Things in my life hurt less now than they ever have, and whether it’s because I’m numb from all that drinking I used to do or I’m just approaching things with twenty-four years of life experience behind me, I’m not sure… but they hurt less… and when you’re trying to wake up in the morning, isn’t that what really matters?