Survival

Standard

I can’t believe it has almost been a year since I first found out about my mum’s cancer. I couldn’t even bring myself to say the word out loud then because it’s so threatening to even think about. Over the last year she has been through so much, we found out that it was stage 3 and she would need chemotherapy, then surgery and more chemotherapy afterwards. I don’t want to go into all the details because it’s not my place to tell all about her private life, but I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been to endure everything that she has had to. It feels selfish to even discuss my own feelings about things but it was so hard to see what it did to her, physically and mentally. She was still working right up until she got sick and never seemed to be “old” for want of a better term. The illness was so hard on her though and she ended up losing so much weight, her arms were so thin it was difficult to see her in such a state. After the surgery she could hardly walk and had to use a frame to get around, it was painful to see how much it takes out of a person. She had other medical complications too which took a long time to deal with, she almost died from an infection and we had to rush her into hospital for that. All this delayed her surgery, and that didn’t happen until June. Because she was so weak, the follow up chemotherapy had to wait because her body couldn’t tolerate it and so it has taken all the way up until a couple of weeks ago for the final session to be done.

She is so much better now, she’s gained enough weight back to be in a healthy range and after months of not being able to eat properly is practically back to normal. Aside from waiting for her hair to grow back again, she tells me that she feels almost back to normal again and it’s such a relief to say that after thinking how bad things were over this past year.

I remember thinking that I wouldn’t be able to cope trying to do things all by myself, but I did try my best to keep things running while she was ill and just about managed it. I don’t want to complain about things too much because it’s nothing compared to what going through cancer is like.

There is one thing that has been on my mind lately that I can’t really talk to anyone about. It’s a kind of guilt that comes from seeing someone so desperate to try and stay alive, battling every day just to get the most basic things done, often times not able to eat or sleep but so determined to make it. It’s like that complete opposite to my own mentality where more and more I am slipping back into feeling as though there is simply no reason for me to be alive, and I’m just marking time until I don’t have anything holding me back. Literally the only reason for me to be alive is because I don’t want to upset my family, but as I’ve said over and over I don’t know how long that can last. I know there’s nothing good to come to me in life, everything from here on will be a downward slope and I never had any life to speak of before that was worthwhile or fun to look back on. I have no real friends, massive debts, no prospect of a decent job, just wasted time. It’s hard to square that feeling with how desperate most people are to preserve their own life.

I constantly feel guilty for being such a useless son, even though my parents never say or make me feel that way, I know it to be true myself. I’ve tried to find meaning in things, but I know that I will always be alone, there’s nothing to like about me and I have nothing to offer anyone.

I went back into therapy for a while but you only get about 8 sessions and that is barely enough time for me to scratch the surface of explaining my situation. I think it helped a little at the time, but I have gone back to where I started again, if not even further back since it ended.

I don’t know how to stop hating myself because I feel fully justified in doing so and I can’t lie to myself because it makes no sense. It’ll be 12 years soon since I first came to terms with the fact that I had a mental illness and the fact that I am still here, still in this same physical location, unable to escape drains me of any possible hope.

All that really holds me back from trying to end things is that I don’t want to upset my mum after all she has been through. I could never really explain what it’s like to despise myself that much and tell her and the rest of my family that they were wrong to care about me. The honest truth is that nobody who doesn’t have some kind of obligation to care even gives me a second thought. There are only so many years you can go through a joyless life like that, with only guilt anchoring you on this earth.

Self Fulfilling Prophecies

Standard

Tell people why they should dislike you enough and eventually they will. I don’t know why I do this, I just can’t seem to help it. It’s like I have to convince anyone who may have a positive opinion about me that they are wrong. This is something I have done over and over, driving away what few people who have been kind enough to talk to me.

Maybe deep down I just want people to hate me? I don’t know or understand why.

Paradoxical Feelings

Standard

Over the last week I started talking to a new person I met online and had a few nice conversations which you might think would make me feel better but strangely I actually feel worse. I have been trying to break it down in my head as to why I feel like this and it kind of happens in a few stages. First of all I usually expect to be rejected by everyone because it is my honest belief (I don’t just say this to try and make people disagree and reassure me) that I am a boring, worthless person who is fundamentally unlikeable. If this doesn’t happen then I can occasionally have positive experiences, like how I described in a post from last year (I cannot believe a year has passed since that already..) but afterwards I start to get a sense of dread building up. On rare occasions I can fight it for a while but I inevitably end up replaying conversations or things I did over and over in my mind and thinking about how stupid and inept I came across. I usually get the urge to try and correct it by giving some sort of apology or seeking approval in some way. I feel ashamed admitting this because it sounds so pathetic but that’s what it is really. The alternative is what I am feeling right now about the most recent experience, that I feel guilty for deceiving the person into thinking I am more interesting or less of an idiot that I really am.

The main conclusion that I have drawn from this crude self-analysis is that a lot of my problems come from my fundamental beliefs about myself, which have been formed from years of experience both personally and from listening and reading about what people say about others. I know I am the kind of person who is almost universally thought of as a complete loser and looked down upon by pretty much everyone. The thing is, I don’t necessarily disagree with them. I don’t like myself at all, and I’m not just saying that for effect. This leads me to think “if I don’t like myself, why should anyone else?”

This is a big sticking point when it comes to trying to get better. I have been feeling very depressed just lately (but not actively suicidal) and fed up of not knowing how to deal with it. I read a book called Reasons to Stay Alive because I thought it might have some insight. The author gives a very good description of how depression can feel (at least in my experience) and obviously had more acute and severe anxiety than me. I couldn’t help but come away with the feeling that our situations, and the situation of a lot of people whom I have read describing their dealings with depression are very different and come from a completely different place. I think for some people, depression is a completely irrational thing. This guy had a loving girlfriend, to whom he gives enormous credit for helping him through what was a very difficult time. I’m not trying to play down anyone’s experiences, but I can see why it might not be quite so hard to find reasons to stay alive if you have that kind of support.

I find myself in the same old situation of not having anyone besides my immediate family who I can talk to or get any kind of support from. Even this is very limited because I don’t like talking to them about things because I don’t want to upset them any more than I already have done in the past. I never talk to my dad about things, my sister is so busy and stressed out by her job I don’t want to add to her troubles and my mum seems completely unable to understand why I feel the way I do even though it is clearly not a normal situation at all. Even though they are sympathetic, I cannot shake the feeling that it’s because I am related to them and doesn’t really reflect on my value as a person because people often support their family members even if they are truly awful. Maybe this makes me a bad, ungrateful person, I don’t know. I simultaneously crave, but cannot believe that I will ever have, acceptance and friendship from other people who aren’t obligated to give it.

The common thread I have seen when people write about recovering from depression is that they try to invoke the fact that you can return to some sort of state that you were in before you were depressed, and I can see why that is valuable because if you used to be OK then I’m sure it would be possible to be OK again. The thing is that some of us don’t really have those memories or experiences to look at and think “I can be like that again”. I can’t remember any prolonged period in my entire adult life where I have not been depressed. At 18 I felt like my life was falling apart because I couldn’t cope with university and this was the first time I fallen off track from what I was “supposed” to do. 19 to 21 felt like an extension of my school days, at 22 I realised work was just as bad and that people there could hate me and make my life a misery just as much as they did at school. At 23 I spent a year unemployed and isolated (as I have done from 2012 to now) my mid 20s were spent battling suicidal thoughts and actions that I have described in tediously great detail on this blog. The closest I can think of is the last year I was at university. This would hardly rank as a great situation for most people, I spent virtually every day alone and only briefly spoke to one person in my classes every now and then. I didn’t feel utterly hopeless though, perhaps that is the high water mark I have to aim for.

Making No Progress

Standard

Following on a bit from my last post, and paraphrasing Oscar Wilde a bit, the only thing more depressing to me than going back to old places like the social anxiety forums and seeing people stuck in ruts for years is seeing people who you used to know and relate to have moved on and aren’t like you any more. I know this is a selfish sentiment and I feel bad even admitting that in public but it’s probably not too uncommon for people to feel that way. I am quite a jealous person, I suppose.

Recently I was talking to my mum about some people we used to know from my old primary school (she used to work there) and it brought some bad memories back. I know how ridiculous it is to obsess and ruminate over things that happened so long ago but from a young age when I was practically forced to make friends with those people up until I dropped out of university when I was 19, these were the only people outside my family I spent any real length of time with. Since then I have never formed any kind of long lasting connection with anyone who I see on a regular basis. These people were around for my formative years and as I’m sure anyone who’s read any of my many previous posts on the subject knows, contributed enormously to the mess I made of my life and why I hate myself so much.

I keep thinking about how different everyone’s life is now from back then, yet I am still largely in the same situation. I live in the same place, have the same bedroom, have little life experience to show for the 10 years since I last spoke to them. I feel terrified that one day I might run into someone who knew me before my decade of virtual isolation and have to try and explain away why I am such a failure. My life is a prime example of how not to do things. It’s difficult to explain how I have ended up like this to any normal person, I think most people would struggle to understand how anyone could end up like this but given enough crippling self loathing and fear it is possible.

Since my last birthday in January I have been preoccupied with getting older and how little I’ve accomplished. When I started writing the stuff that formed the early entries on this blog in 2007 I was young enough that a lot of things could be sort of written off, like there was still a lot of time for me to fix things and get on with having an actual life. Getting closer to 30 (it actually pained me to write that because putting it into words really hammers home the reality of it) I no longer have that excuse of youth to hide behind. Every single passing day brings me further and further away from normality. [this is an aside, but I have this awful habit of obsessing over time in a weird way. When I would have time off, from work or school for example, I would always be dreading going back and I’d think things to myself like “I still have 3 more days where I can not have to worry about not being able to sleep that night” and stupid things like that. It’s hard to put into words.] I honestly don’t know what I’ll do when I actually am 30, I am abnormally preoccupied with this because in addition to all the usual things people worry about crossing a milestone age, I have the fact that I still only posses the life experience and ability to deal with things as a child, not even the average teenager. Unless something dramatic happens in the next 2 years (unlikely) then I honestly can’t see myself living to experience it. I don’t want to alarm people but I think if I am still like this at age 30 then I will have given things long enough to not feel bad for giving up on life.

I can’t pretend I am a good enough person not to feel anger at the people who first made me despise myself so thoroughly and forced me to withdraw from society. The first counsellor I used to see would ask me if I felt angry, and back then I didn’t really. Nowadays I do feel a lot of resentment towards them.

For many years, the majority of my life so far, I 100% believed that everyone would have the same attitude towards me. That they would at best see me as a figure of fun and someone to quietly mock. At worst, I feared being hated like some people back then used to hate me. This kind of mental beating that went on from when I was 11 ground down any self esteem I had (and believe it or not, I was quite happy up to that point) and I have never recovered or had any reason to like myself since.

It is only in the past few years that I have found anyone who didn’t regard me with such negativity. Sadly I don’t live near any of them but even if I did, it is probably only my limited contact with them that stopped them from becoming bored or tired of my horrendous self doubt and sadness. I already drove away most of the people I used to speak online with.

Even this small glimmer of acceptance makes me sad though. I keep wondering what my life might have been like if instead of being surrounded by people who always wanted to put me down and make me feel worthless, I had been around some of the people who don’t hate me. Maybe I would have some friends in real life? Perhaps if I didn’t take every opportunity to shut myself off and hide away I could have developed some confidence and not be completely unable to cope in the work place. I’m not a stupid person but any intelligence or skills I have are going completely to waste. It is incredibly depressing to think about the potential I have wasted over the years.

There is no real purpose to this post, I am trying to verbalise the thoughts that have been swimming around my head so much but it is difficult. It’s like there are certain ways that people learn how to act and how to cope with life that I have completely missed out on because of how much I screwed everything up and it’s already too late to ever catch up. I felt this right from when I started this blog but it is slipping further and further away and at a seemingly quicker pace than ever. I really need to start getting help again.