In grade 10 I dated a guy for 7 months who I’ll call B. He was the basically the second “real” boyfriend I had, had. He was funny, cute, smart, athletic, caring and I couldn’t believe my luck. Everyone thought we were the perfect couple. We never fought. B made me feel amazing, like I was worth it.
It was while I was with B that I was eventually, and finally, diagnosed with dysthymia (chronic depression) so I was not in the best place during this relationship. I spent a lot of time crying or completely shut down. It was not an odd occurrence for him to hold me down on his bed while I fought him trying to get to my purse so I could grab my blade and cut. I was happy with him just not happy with myself.
The break up hit me like a freight train. The boy I loved didn’t want me anymore. My friends and I couldn’t understand why he would leave me. B and I never fought so that should have meant that everything was alright. I had seen him that day at my friend’s house. We were going to have some drinks but then he just disappeared. I called his house and no one was picking up. I waited. He eventually called me at my friend’s house and explained that he had gotten a ride home because he couldn’t be with me anymore. I was angry. B explained that he had been thinking about breaking up for a bit and that he had even called Kid’s Help Phone (or something similar) to ask for help. He told the counsellor on the phone that he thought I would kill myself if he broke up with me. The counsellor told him that he was not my therapist and not responsible for my actions.
I was horribly offended that he thought I would kill myself if he left me and I was angry that the bitch that told him he wasn’t my therapist. B was my boyfriend which meant that he had to fix me. If he loved me then he wouldn’t leave and he would fix me. Just like in the movies.
It took me a year to get over that break up and B and I haven’t spoken since (about 7 years).
A few years ago, when I was older and understood myself more, I realized that B did the right thing. I’m not angry at him anymore. I’m angry at myself (but constructively). We were 15 years old. Neither of us should have had to handle what we did. It wasn’t up to him to fix me, only I could do that. I wasn’t fair to him. I am very sorry. I feel terrible that he felt I would harm myself if he left me. That must have been a heavy burden to carry.
A former friend of mine kept telling me she would see B around her campus (about 4 or 5 years later) which prompted me to send him a “Hello” message on Facebook. The rare occasion I would get information about him it would sound like I did some damage to him or whatever. Maybe I’m being completely narcissistic. I didn’t get a response so I figured it was better to leave it alone but I have been wondering if I should try again but this time just flat out say, “I’m sorry, you were right.”
Then I start wondering why I want to do this. What do I hope to accomplish? I don’t want to reconnect and/or hang out. If I didn’t get a response I wouldn’t even care. I just think it might be important for him to know and for me to know that I said it.
I’m open to suggestions.
After reading Kevin from Voices of Glass post on depression and self-esteem I started thinking about my own experience with depression.
Thinking then lead me to remember a conversation I had with one of Michael’s friends. We were talking about the treatments we had tried to treat our dysfunctional emotions and he said that he didn’t like medication because it made him feel nothing. I responded that I would give almost anything to feel nothing.
I’m shocked that I said it, that I’d sometimes rather be numb.
Because I had dysthymic disorder I didn’t experience episodes of depression. I chronically was depressed. If you ever see me refer to my “episode of depression” I’m referring to the time from 2003-2007ish. So from the ages of 13-18 I felt numb. My goal in life was to feel. I would do everything horrible to myself to try to feel something.
Completely recovering from dysthymia resulted in a flood of feelings. I feel everything and most of it feel involuntary. Feeling can be painful and I don’t like how that feels.
I used to think that feeling something was better than nothing but now I’m wishing I could be a little numb once in a while.
It’s all about balance I guess. I know numb is not a desired state to be in. I’m really looking for calm.
I like the fact I don’t need to put my life on the line to feel but I don’t like how feeling too much is also putting my life at risk.
Balance. Calm. That’s goal.
Yesterday was a bad day for me. A really bad day. I don’t usually have days like that. It got to the point of where I had convinced myself that when I got home from work I would attempt to shut my brain off and accept any consequences that came along with it….as long as my brain would shut off I would be fine. Luckily I work with the most amazing children and, they don’t know it, they helped me not push the self destruct button.
While I lay in bed reading, waiting for my partner to get home from work I began thinking about how I had failed. I write this blog, I work in and present on mental health and I am constantly doing what all friends do, offer advice on how to ease stress and have a better life. How can I do all that, spread hope and say that having mental health issues is ok, that it’s not what you think it is, and then fall so deep into the black hole…….??????
My logical mind, the one I trust more and the one I have most of the time, tells me that I’m allowed to fall into the black hole. I’m allowed to not always succeed. I’m allowed to be that stereotype I fight against because the point is not to say it isn’t real but that it doesn’t define my capabilities as a human.
I am still trying to understand happiness and sadness. Throughout my diagnosis of dysthymic disorder (chronic depression) sadness meant that I was ill and happiness meant that treatment was working and I was becoming “normal”. It is easy to see how anyone, but especially a teenager, could create this belief that sadness is all bad and happiness is all good. THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE!!!!!
I still sometimes struggle to see my negative emotions as not being a sign that I should be heavily medicated and hospitalized because that is how it was in the past. To be happy is the ultimate goal when you have a mental health issue but it seems unattainable, especially to the extent everyone else appears to have it. It really comes down to the label. I felt that “normal” people have this free-flowing, relaxed, easy come happiness and that people with mental health issues have this difficult, medicated, therapy driven, exhausting, fake happiness. My labels keep me under the constant threat of “relapse” because if I can’t hold it together then I am “crazy”.
I reminded myself, after thinking all of this, cozy in my bed, that no one can hold it together all the time. Everyone plunges into the black hole. My partner has told me in the past that everyone has to work at being happy, that it is not a natural state and this is true. Sadness is not a natural state either…yes, we need to work at being sad too!
I’m ok now. Drained a little but I’m entitled to feeling and I’m even more entitled to not be condemned for how I’m feeling. I feel that my emotions yesterday have nothing to do with an illness but just my reaction to feeling intensely horrible and isolated with that feeling.
I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder while smiling and having pleasant conversation with the psychiatrist so I guess no emotion is safe to have once you’ve entered our mental health system.