When you live with depression and anxiety it seems there’s no point to living.
A long time ago in my battle with depression, I arrived at that place where I was convinced life wasn’t worth the trouble. In my failure to successfully navigate the nuances of day-to-day living I was ready to give up and allow death to be my only goal.
I spent hours in secret, planning and practicing how I might actually manage to kill myself without hurting anyone in the process. The conflict churning away inside me fluctuated between fixated determination and incapacitating helplessness. My inability to actually carry out my own death only confirmed my belief that I was useless and left me without hope that the suffering would ever end.
It’s a tough place to be. It’s littered with self-fulfilling ideation about failure and lack of worth. And, no matter how hard you try to explain what’s going on inside yourself, the conversation always ends up being the same. A discourse on the pro’s and con’s of your existence relative to whomever you’ve managed to confide in.
And confide we do! We want people to know that we’re suffering in the hope that we’ll find someone, anyone who can rescue us from where we are. To liberate us from an emotional agony that can’t be described in the English language and so, seems alien and unnerving.
Mr. Me spends a lot of time telling me how good I am. He provides a spoken list of my successes in an attempt to keep me grounded and aware. But, from where I sit, all I see is someone trying to make me feel better about myself.
For me, my failures are real. My inability to achieve perfection is like a scab that I can’t help but pick at. I scrape at the surface, picking the edges so I can remind myself that I’ve failed. When I finally manage to remove the entire crust I continue to poke at it like it’s the only part of me that matters. Regardless of how much healthy skin I’ve produced, I am focused only on that one piece. It alone is what defines me.
No matter how many times Mr. Me tells me how good I am, I can point to that one (or maybe two or three) open and inflamed sores and say “see, my failure is real”. It frustrates him. He rolls his eyes and shakes his head. He’s already pointed out (and I’m aware of them) that amid my many successes the occasional failure is meaningless and I agree.
But, I’m so invested in success that death seems preferable to failure. Because having failed (no matter my degree of culpability in that failure) I’m left to manage the internal conflict between my ability to both succeed and fail.
I’m smart enough to have the talk with myself. To attempt to convince myself (just like Wonderful does) that life, is life. That success and failure are both to be expected in a life lived to fulfilment. But, in my search for meaning I’m challenged by my inability to trust myself. And, without trust I’m left to consider if life is worth living, if I can only perceive it to be the sum total of the wounds inflicted.
So I’m left picking at scabs while Mr Me reminds me that success or failure are not the measure of a life well lived. And, I’m stirred to wonder if I know what success really is.
David Frost once said: Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.
If you need to talk to someone NOW call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Deb Shugg is an awarded business woman, wife & mother, author and a sufferer of depression and anxiety.
If you need help to deal with your symptoms see your doctor.
(Abuse of another person is NEVER okay. If you are being abused or, if you are an abuser please seek help.)