11 votes

Six months after lifelong depression

I've been thinking of writing a follow-up to my post about my now on only mostly lifelong depression. And surprise, this is that post. :) Its mostly stream of consciousness style, but I did try and edit it a bit.

I've realized that I have never had a friend before. I've cared about people, but the trust required to consider someone a friend was something I wasn't capable of. I only realized a few months back that trust is an emotion; it was always a rather cold calculus for me. I would think something to the effect of 'While I trust them not to kill me or physically hurt me...'. I would think a similar thing about best friends, 'Well they are literally my best(think closest) friend'. People have cared for me, but since I couldn't reciprocate, I can't call that a friendship.

It does explain a lot of things that didn't make sense to me before. Everyone I knew always acted like I hated being around them, and in a sense, they were right. I hated being around people because I couldn't actually connect with them. It was like watching people feast while you are starving. I had to impotently attempt to form connections that were impossible for me, while the other person blissfully formed that connection without even thinking about it.
I still have issues trusting people, but I have gotten massively better in this regard. There are a few people I consider casual friends now, but I cannot say I have a close friend.

I also have a fair bit of anger towards people who called themselves my friends. I cannot remember a point when I felt like any of them seriously tried to help me. And its not like I didn't have people who stated they loved me, I've had a few, but that I never felt that love breathed into actions. I imagine I will always wonder if it was just because it was too hidden or if no one ever really tried. I have also realized that I don't think anyone ever realized how bad off I was. To be fair, I couldn't have told you how bad off I was then either, but I have the excuse of not knowing what happiness was.

I've also realized how little people who have not experienced something like lifelong depression understand about it. I've discussed it with a few people, and even the one's who have been depressed and who have had serious issues, do not understand. In particular, a lot of people will use the phrase 'Making up for lost time' and do not understand how incorrect it is. There is no making up for the lost time; I will have always lived roughly a third of my life devoid of happiness and meaning. Nothing will change that, and nothing could ever remove the weight of that burden. Even if I live my best possible life from now own, it won't make my past self happy. Also of course I want to live my best possible life, but that's probably the most universal desire in existence. And my point isn't to insult the people who use this phrase, but to offer a particular example of what I mean by not understanding.

This type of comment also implies suffering from being in a bad situation, not suffering from being in a void. (Though I imagine the vast majority of people do not understand the difference) What most people call suffering is being in the dark, a metaphorical, or sometimes literal, punch to the face; something clearly delineated and demarcated. Some moment of shadow within a wider context of light; even if the shadow greatly outweighs the light, there is still both light and shadow. The suffering of the void is a separation from even the dimension of light/dark itself. And it is a hungry void, it consumes everything and turns it into the Same. Even people who have experienced the suffering of being in a void for a time have memories of light/dark as a reminder of what they are looking for. I do want to be explicit here, I don't think suffering is useful or valuable. Suffering doesn't make you strong or interesting, it just fucking sucks. Nothing pisses me off more then when people dick measure with how bad their life has been. I do kinda feel like an angsty teen talking about this, but it is something I have feel so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I have also been steadily seeing how fucked up some things in my past were. For example, as a 7 year-old I had to learn how to careful couch all my words to avoid pushing my mother to suicide. I realized that not feeling physically safe anywhere is a problem.

I got a job working at a local restaurant. Its a mediocre job, but I wanted a zero-stress job and it provided that. I have a few coworkers I consider friends, but the one I am closest to just left which is a bummer. I do also feel like I am down with this period of my life, and I just want to move on right now but I still need to wait a bit.

I am moving to Portland, OR in February. Its definitely the next step I need to take, but its obviously still scary.

I have been working on some coding side-projects that I have enjoyed. One is a weather alert that only sends me alerts if X condition is met, so if the temperature drops 20 degrees or a blizzard is coming type of thing. I have the core logic working, but I am still working on the notification method. I am also working on a stenography theory that attempts to use semantic relationships instead of phonetics as the base dimension. Its still really, really early, but its in that fun, highly theoretical stage.

I have realized that I am not actually ugly, but you know a little too overwhelmed to recognize normal people's interest. I was also surprised how enjoyable it is to wear clothes that look good on you. Unfortunately, there is no one I am particularly interested in right now, but at least I would be able to act if I met someone. I also still have no idea how to date; like do you just approach someone and ask them? Is that it?

This post is much longer then I was originally thinking, so if you read through to the end, thanks.

8 comments

  1. [2]
    NoblePath
    Link
    Have you heard of adult children of dysfunctional families and/or complex ptsd?

    Have you heard of adult children of dysfunctional families and/or complex ptsd?

    7 votes
    1. Arshan
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I haven't heard of the first one, and I only know a little about the second. With a little bit of looking, it does seem pretty accurate to my experience. Edit: Well, complex PTSD seems to be very...

      I haven't heard of the first one, and I only know a little about the second. With a little bit of looking, it does seem pretty accurate to my experience.

      Edit:
      Well, complex PTSD seems to be very accurate to my experience, in particular with some of the more 'weird/abnormal' parts of my mental health issues. Not considering yourself human is something I've done for years; I've always sided with AI in fiction over humans. In one of the articles I read about C-PTSD, it even used a phrase I have said verbatim many times; 'I don't know HOW to have a relationship'.

      It also makes sense to me that my issues weren't simply depression. Yes, depression was a very big part of it, but by no means the whole picture. So thanks for the comment that really makes it seem that my issues could better be described by C-PTSD.

      5 votes
  2. [3]
    beanie
    (edited )
    Link
    To acknowledge the brighter side, given how I interpret your posts, to me, it sounds like you're doing better than the previous post. When it comes to depression... When it comes to depression,...

    To acknowledge the brighter side, given how I interpret your posts, to me, it sounds like you're doing better than the previous post.

    When it comes to depression... When it comes to depression, there's a spectrum, yes? You still may be depressed, but some lows/voids are lower/voidier than others, maybe?
    The reason why I tip-toe... The reason why I tip-toe around maybe stating this is because I'm not sure how you feel about comparing your depression to your depression (as you seem to not like to compare depressions between two or more persons... idk how you view the idea of an individual, is past you a different person than you? maybe a different version? idk.
    More on reluctancey I guess I am reluctant because you seem to have a strong emotion towards specific descriptions that don't seem accurate enough. Given that, I will get some descriptions wrong. Forgive me. Or, maybe give people grace when they speak.

    Seeing that you have heard little-to-nothing about dysfunctional families and/or complex ptsd from your dialoge with @NoblePath, I'm going to go out on a limb here and ask, since you've been in this depression you describe as life-long, have you made any headway or steps with speaking with a mental health professional? If so, maybe bring these terms up and ask what treatment looks like. That may have been obvious though. If it is, I'm sorry for being a smart-*ss.

    Something that has helped me was going to a mental health support group. It's nice to have a non-judgmental space where people typically describe how they are feeling pretty accurately. And you won't have any of those "what didn't kill me makes me stronger" talk.

    And, maybe some reassurance from the other side. Although your experience with depression has been life-long, your life, although to you has been the longest thing you've experienced, isn't so long if you think about it from a macroscopic POV (or just, not your POV). If you live in the states (given that you're moving to Portland, OR - nice bro, super jelly - I'm going to assume you live in another state in the US), typically you are under your parent(s) responsibility until 18, so, if you think about it, you've only been truly on your own for approximately 5-6 years. Life-long depression is excruciating, the caveat, you should (again, given the typical/ average life-span of males in the US) have a lot more life to live and what is under your control has been minimal for now, and, again, given from your last post, you are on the right track and have grown so much in so little time. Hang in there bro. See your potential. Sometimes that means uprooting some of the past and saying "I don't need this anymore, it served me as a child to, for example, stay quiet/ hold my tongue because my main caretaker would be in jeopardy if I didn't, but now I'm my main caretaker, so I no longer need to hold my tongue if it doesn't suit me". That will take a lot of reflection to uproot some of those things. Focus on your potential.

    Oh, and I wanted to add, there is so much content out there to feel not so alone in your feelings. I recommend BTS. Pink Floyd is also cool. Many artists have spent their time and effort trying to describe their battle with mental health.

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      Arshan
      Link Parent
      Oh, it is wild how much better I am now. I can actual feel like I have a connection with someone, even if it isn't super deep. Its just by being in a much better place I can now understand how bad...

      To acknowledge the brighter side, given how I interpret your posts, to me, it sounds like you're doing better than the previous post.

      Oh, it is wild how much better I am now. I can actual feel like I have a connection with someone, even if it isn't super deep. Its just by being in a much better place I can now understand how bad off I was for most of my life.

      Seeing that you have heard little-to-nothing about dysfunctional families and/or complex ptsd from your dialoge with @NoblePath, I'm going to go out on a limb here and ask, since you've been in this depression you describe as life-long, have you made any headway or steps with speaking with a mental health professional? If so, maybe bring these terms up and ask what treatment looks like. That may have been obvious though. If it is, I'm sorry for being a smart-*ss.

      I looked into a therapist a few months back, but something was holding me back. I am starting to look for a therapist in Portland. I've personally always been a bit wary of therapy, not because I don't think it could greatly help me, I am sure it could, but that a bad therapist IN THE PAST could have been very extremely bad for me. My father was a psychologist, and someone of my worst memories are of him ruthlessly making fun of his patients.

      Something that has helped me was going to a mental health support group. It's nice to have a non-judgmental space where people typically describe how they are feeling pretty accurately. And you won't have any of those "what didn't kill me makes me stronger" talk.

      I'll admit not to have seriously considered this. It just never crossed my mind, and now it sounds like a good idea. Thanks :)

      And, maybe some reassurance from the other side. Although your experience with depression has been life-long, your life, although to you has been the longest thing you've experienced, isn't so long if you think about it from a macroscopic POV (or just, not your POV). If you live in the states (given that you're moving to Portland, OR - nice bro, super jelly - I'm going to assume you live in another state in the US), typically you are under your parent(s) responsibility until 18, so, if you think about it, you've only been truly on your own for approximately 5-6 years. Life-long depression is excruciating, the caveat, you should (again, given the typical/ average life-span of males in the US) have a lot more life to live and what is under your control has been minimal for now, and, again, given from your last post, you are on the right track and have grown so much in so little time. Hang in there bro. See your potential. Sometimes that means uprooting some of the past and saying "I don't need this anymore, it served me as a child to, for example, stay quiet/ hold my tongue because my main caretaker would be in jeopardy if I didn't, but now I'm my main caretaker, so I no longer need to hold my tongue if it doesn't suit me". That will take a lot of reflection to uproot some of those things. Focus on your potential.

      I don't have any particular response, but I generally appreciate the sentiment. And yeah, I live just outside of Kansas City now.

      Oh, and I wanted to add, there is so much content out there to feel not so alone in your feelings. I recommend BTS. Pink Floyd is also cool. Many artists have spent their time and effort trying to describe their battle with mental health.

      I've enjoyed the BTS music I've heard, but never consciously listened to Pink Floyd, so that will go in the watchlist.

      5 votes
      1. beanie
        Link Parent
        Your mom was suicidal and your dad was a psychologist? I'm being cheeky on purpose now... you have a lot to unpack bro. Have fun on your mental health adventure! At least you know what a bad...

        Your mom was suicidal and your dad was a psychologist? I'm being cheeky on purpose now... you have a lot to unpack bro. Have fun on your mental health adventure! At least you know what a bad mental health professional looks like? (Oh, I hope you aren't close to your parents and won't take that personally). I'm sorry you had to go through that bro. Best of luck getting out of dissociation that you used as a survival mechanism and best of luck feeling a connection with others. Tbh, I still struggle with feeling connected, I may have a good 1 or 2 people I feel connected to, and boy, am I thankful I'm not alone anymore!

        And enjoy your travels/ new home, Portland is awesome! I'm biased b/c I hate the midwest, so I think you're going to have a ball in Portland! If you like nature, I recommend Crater Lake (and Diamond Lake for camping). The drive from Crater Lake to Portland is real nice. The food is really good in Portland. Again, I'm biased, I wasn't a fan of the fatty, greasy, nerrrrsty food in the Midwest, I'm sorry, wtf is provel? That stuff sticks to the top of your mouth and feels like wet, ancient gum. The weed is great in Portland too, but I'm trying to be sober about that (effected my mental health too much - depended on the stuff, took over my life, etc.). Have fun!

        3 votes
  3. [3]
    beanie
    Link
    My apologies for the double comment. I was thinking more about this last night, so maybe take what I say with a grain of salt as this may be coming from projection and a little bit of sleep...

    My apologies for the double comment. I was thinking more about this last night, so maybe take what I say with a grain of salt as this may be coming from projection and a little bit of sleep deprivation.

    I want to respond to the following as I feel they may be related:

    • Even if I live my best possible life from now own, it won't make my past self happy.

    • I've also realized how little people who have not experienced something like lifelong depression understand about it.

    • [explaining the difference between suffering & being in a void]

    And, from your previous post you linked:

    • I want other people to acknowledge my pain.

    I think the reason why

    • you get frustrated with people getting the description of depression wrong,
    • you spent a good chunk of the post describing depression,
    • looking for acknowledgement of your past/ pain, and
    • you are possibly stuck on the idea that even though you can live your best life from now on, it doesn't erase the past - life-long depression

    is because you hold depression as part of your identity.

    I may be out of line here. Just in case it is true, let me provide you with a personal account. I, for some time, would describe myself as a pot-head. I thought, I speak like one, I act like one, I smoke a lot, I think like one (even when not smoking), hence, I am one. But there is that spectrum we were talking about that shows up in a lot of things. There is a difference in calling yourself a pot-head and describing yourself as a person who depends on marijuana. The aim with describing myself as a pot-head was to get rid of the shame in regards to using marijuana, which I thought would make it easier for me to drop the dependence. Although removing the shame in something is a good move, additionally what happened was that by calling myself that term, I was giving myself permission to continue using that unhealthy coping mechanism as well as making it a part of my identity (who would I be if I wasn't a pot-head). Now, the second description I gave is way more descriptive, doesn't include usage as being a part of my identity and accurately describes my relationship with the substance.

    A challenge: what if you didn't make depression as part of your (past) identity? Instead, what if you were trying to survive your surroundings given the little information you knew during adolescence? Now, you are recognizing that those coping mechanisms you used for survival during adolescence is no longer working and in fact is negatively affecting your life and ability to feel connection in relationships. By doing this, you may even more accurately describe your childhood experience and empower yourself (hence giving you even more confidence when approaching the notion of depression, because depression is hard, you'll need all the strength you can get).

    4 votes
    1. [2]
      Arshan
      Link Parent
      I wanted to take I bit to clarify my thoughts on your comment. There's a bit of 'yes, but also no' in my response. So yes, I have felt a need to have my mental health issues explicitly...

      I wanted to take I bit to clarify my thoughts on your comment. There's a bit of 'yes, but also no' in my response.

      So yes, I have felt a need to have my mental health issues explicitly acknowledged and at least generally understood. The main reason being that it never was, so I always felt like I was being gaslighted. People always stated that I seemed happy or fun, even though I felt nothing. I also never had a 'happy' frame of reference, so now that I do, how bad off I was really stands out.

      I agree that I am going to need to let go of my mental health issues as part of me and my identity. And they have been dimming down quite a bit over the last 2 months or so. But I still feel a need to not rush it, that this is a part of my mourning process for all the time I have lost. So I guess I would say I trust myself to reach that point in my own time.

      4 votes
      1. beanie
        Link Parent
        Alright, take your time, I'm sorry if I came off as pushy. This is your journey and take the path that is best for you. I don't think saying "I've been there" is going to help you right now, but...

        Alright, take your time, I'm sorry if I came off as pushy. This is your journey and take the path that is best for you. I don't think saying "I've been there" is going to help you right now, but I've definitely been there (I spent most of the past year laying down on my husbands couch, smoking weed, binge eating, and not brushing my teeth/ showering - I work on it everyday not to fall into that cycle). But, that's making it about me... this is about you right now. I see you, I hope I can be a person of the many who can validate your experience. I believe you when you say you don't feel connected to people and are unhappy/ were unhappy for a long time. From the description you gave about some of your childhood circumstances, it makes sense why your past was terrible and why you feel this way. You can mourn the childhood you didn't have.

        My husband recently sent me a science article which pertained to my childhood abuse. Although I understand the effects from my past experiences, I cannot for the life of me comprehend what it would be like for a person who didn't go through the same experiences as me. Like, I know how we are different and how the experience effected me, but I don't know what life would be like otherwise? Which causes some of the disconnected feeling I feel when I talk to others. Anyway. Looks like I just made it about me again. I'm sorry dude. Whatevs. Life's a weird glob anyway.

        3 votes