When you live with depression & anxiety it’s hard to find the real you.
Amid the multitude of drugs available for treating dysfunctional emotional health symptoms, there doesn’t seem to be anything that leaves us emotionally “in tact”. The feeling that we are somehow disconnected from our “true” self can have us believing the treatment is worse than the illness.
For some, the distress caused by the treatment is enough to reject it for a life of manic emotional swings, unpredictability and dangerous behaviours. For others, it’s just that nagging feeling that we’re not quite ‘present’. That somehow there’s a part of us that’s missing. But, in a lesser of two evils approach, for me, part of us missing is small price to pay.
I have to confess to feeling a bit disconnected myself recently. I’ve struggled to write even the briefest of pieces. I’ve chosen to isolate myself further from the rest of the world and I’m riding an emotional merry-go-round that because of it’s predictability, is entirely boring and unfulfilling.
On top of this, my medication is known to cause weight gain because of it’s (side)effect on whatever part of me processes sugars. My taste buds have difficulty determining what I’m eating and I am in a state of perpetual tiredness. In-fact, it’s only the guilt I have over my inability to earn an income, that keeps me from sleeping my life away and dedicated to perfect housewifely behaviour.
And amid all this, I’ve had no significant improvement in my illness. I’m still stuck!
Mr Me is gracious in his understanding. He’s tolerant and (mostly) gentle. (I don’t know how much more gentle he could be!) And, while his expectations of me sometimes feel unkind, they’re not unreasonable. After all, who wouldn’t expect an award winning business-person to get up and go to work. It’s not like I’ve lost my capacity to think!
But here’s the thing, I appear to have lost the ability to feel confident. In the absence of praise, I automatically default to failure, and by extension, I withdraw.
Now, I can hear you all thinking “how silly”. Just because no-one tells you, you did a good job, doesn’t mean you’ve done a bad job. However, from somewhere within my illness, a voice of disbelief is broadcast. Sometimes it’s so shrill that no other sound can be heard above it and at other times, it’s like rain on a tin roof, a constant drone beneath all other noise. It’s message, clear and constant, is only to remind me of my ineptness. My inability to be anything more than my self-perception allows.
This arousal of dissonance, between my cognitive desire to be worthy, acceptable and of value and my cognitive belief that I am a disappointment, seeks a resolution. Without any external evidence to support the belief that I’ve attained my desires, I must conclude that I am what I believe myself to be.
Of course, we could debate my self-perception for hours on the basis of whether it’s a pre-set biological outcome as a result of the DNA responsible for my being (like Blue Eyes). Or, perhaps it’s the result of the way I was nurtured (like an Attachment Disorder). Or perhaps, I’ve acquired a chemical imbalance as a result of increased chemical production due to a life-threatening trauma (as in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). It could even be the result of an autoimmune type condition, where my body’s own defences kill off any feel good chemicals before I am able to use them (like Type 1 Diabetes).
But for now, it’s not the question of why that drives me to seek a solution. It’s the how and when that keeps me striving to find a treatment that will allow me move forward. After all, I was not created for a life of despair.
From Anais Nin: It is the function of art to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see. The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and, as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it.
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.)