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18 August 2016 @ 09:40 pm
The Harshest Critic  
This post is a jumble of thoughts, a stream of consciousness, and it probably won't make much sense to anyone but myself, but I'm going to leave it here anyway, if only to stand as the perfect reflection of how confusing Depression can be, both to those who have it, and those who don't.

In my last post I mentioned I'd started going to therapy.

I've been seeing my therapist now for about eight months and in that time I've learnt that, whilst through the shadow-tinted glasses of Depression I struggle to recognise myself, I think the fact is that I actually don't even know who that self is anyway.

One of the first things that happens when you start therapy for Depression is that you're taught to be kind to yourself. Turns out, as well as being one of the first lessons you learn, it's also one of the hardest to maintain.

I don't really know how long I've been living with Depression. I tend to think of it as starting during the first term of my final year at university. That was about the time I started to lose focus and motivation, when I started to fall behind on work, and when the anxiety started to rear it's ugly head. The more I think about it, however, the more I begin to wander if Depression has been present in my life for a lot longer than I first thought.

If that's the case, then perhaps this particular "spell" of Depression actually began during my second year, when I started to get more irate and annoyed at people where before I would've simply held my tongue.

But there were other spells before this, smaller ones, more like rainclouds that soon passed, but left a few fallen trees and the odd mudslide in it's wake.

Or to put this in an altogether more nerdy way,

perhaps it's like the 79AD eruption of Mount Vesuvias, whereupon an entire civilisation was upended within the space of a few hours, but which was preceded by decades of earthquakes and land shifts, each causing their own chaos in turn, but nothing at the same magnitude of that first eruption.

There was definitely a quake or raincloud, (whichever metaphor you prefer) after I dropped out of my first uni, perhaps even during those final years at school, when I began to question whether anyone actually liked me, when I fell out big time with one of the few people I ever considered a true friend, when I kept questioning whether university really was the right thing for me. Maybe that's even why I dropped out of Carmarthen in the first place. After all, dropping out follows the same pattern of avoidance that is Anxiety's favourite bedfellow.

Hell, if we're going to look at how long Anxiety has been around, we need to go back to the early ages of primary school. That would even tie-in with when I started to act more shy around people, when I stopped raising my hand in class I don't know whether we even still have my early report cards from back then, but I would be willing to bet there were no mentions of 'too quiet - needs to participate more' before that point. I remember directing a mini performance of Cinderella in Year 1, and I would have never done in Year 2.

My therapist is always saying school have a lot to answer for; maybe she's right.

Anyway, bringing all of this back to my initial thought, how can I even begin to recognise myself, when I'm not even sure I've been myself for years? And if that's the case, it's no wonder I'm struggling to be kind to myself, because that internal critic has been ever present for as long as I can remember, and it's going to take a while to unlearn years of bad habits that have built up as a result.

I know I have good qualities, but knowing and believing are two different things. When I try to believe in myself, in those good qualities, that inner critic chirps up almost instantaneously.

I know I have to take this whole process a step at a time, but it's difficult when part of you doesn't even believe anything's wrong. Part of you just thinks the part of you that feels wrong is being pathetic, melodramatic, lazy. Because that's the part of you that's been told that by others for years, and it's difficult to unlearn that when you believe you have evidence to back it up. Except you don't have evidence. What you have is years of misunderstanding on your part and on others.

I don't even understand this thing, and I'm the one who's got it. What chance has everyone else got?
 
 
 
Eleonora: daredevileleblack on August 19th, 2016 08:34 pm (UTC)
Chances are that someone else has experienced loneliness, lack of self-esteem, anxiety, anger in their lives, without necessarily being diagnosed depression. I think, I hope, comfort and understand will come from those.
And if not those, then the people who love you will. Because they exist, even though you spend whole days convincing yourself of the contrary.

I know you (possibly do) because I can find myself in many of the situations you described. I too went from being an enthusiastic, chatty girl to one who is afraid to raise her hand because she fears she'll get something wrong in front of others. I too have been so anxious that I couldn't sleep, or held more anger than I could control. I always tell myself I should see a therapist some day, but I haven't yet. I too am my harshest critic...

All of this is to tell you: because you have started seeing a therapist, and decided to at least try to understand what's going on with you, you are well ahead of most of us. That is your first milestone and something that should make you proud of yourself. I wish you all the best!
gingerhobbitgingerhobbit on August 20th, 2016 02:27 pm (UTC)
"I know I have to take this whole process a step at a time, but it's difficult when part of you doesn't even believe anything's wrong. Part of you just thinks the part of you that feels wrong is being pathetic, melodramatic, lazy. Because that's the part of you that's been told that by others for years, and it's difficult to unlearn that when you believe you have evidence to back it up. Except you don't have evidence. What you have is years of misunderstanding on your part and on others."

Depression is SO different for different people but if there is anything I have heard across all accounts it's this, bruv. And some of these things you grasp in the healing process but for me some of these realisations didn't come for months or even years after I'd 'healed'.

I think a lot of us get fucked up in our youth/early teens and because we're quiet & still achieving it just doesn't come up. I was messed up for YEARS before I finally got bad enough that I started screwing up academically, the point at which it actually became a problem for everyone. You come out of young adulthood suddenly having no idea who you would be without it, no idea who you were meant to be. I'm still sort of grappling with that - it feels like I lost, what, 5, 10 years of my youth sometimes - and I see myself as having being ~mostly fixed (just don't throw any stress at me - academic stress in particular throws me RIGHT BACK) for a good few years now.

I wanted this to be comforting as someone sort of on ~the other side but I don't know if it really was. I know I have a lot more belief in myself. I know I have learnt to let myself be in charge of that belief and not other people - which, in some ways is a bit isolating, but in others makes it a lot stronger. My friends were a major source of comfort during that whole saga (I was too ashamed to lean on my family) but that whole ~you have to learn to love yourself~ shtick is true. I can always count on myself, no matter what happens. I never thought I'd be confident again and whilst I am self-deprecating as fuck I do feel like I can try for things now & that I do have worth, which was impossible before.

Major props for going for therapy by the way, it's something I could never do.