Just Do It — And Fail!

This site began with a certain premise: Posting the musings that spring to my mind as a glimpse into the darkness that is dysthymia. That has yet to occur, but I feel a powerful urge to vent right now and I think I am going to do so.

What is the point of this? The point of writing it is catharsis; giving the emotions represented an outlet to vent and hopefully relieve some of the pain and prevent it from exploding dramatically later on. The point of posting it is several fold. First, to let anybody out there who sees it know that they are not alone. To help them understand, in real and unequivocal terms, that these dark spots are not a personal failing or a weakness on their part, but rather a facet of the disease, and to do that by showing them another person, completely unrelated to themselves and their circumstances, in a similar position. Let’s face it; people who find this blog (which goes wholly unadvertised) probably do so because they are either dysthymic themselves or know somebody they care about who is. Beyond that, if there are any “innocent passers-by” who find this, I would love to educate. If even one person reads what I write and walks away with an understanding that underneath the broken, awkward exterior husk is a real person with real value then I would consider that to be a major victory. Unfortunately, knowing these things logically and knowing them emotionally are two entirely separate things and that brings us to this dark musing. I’m somewhat nervous to give the level of detail I am going to give because the thought that I am writing anonymously (though probably a poor and misguided notion!) helps me to preserve the honestly and forthrightness I need to write at all, but I’m going to do it anyway. So a bit of background before I slide into letting the pain out:

Specifics aside, I recently had lunch with two people I had just met. They are both smart people. One of them is somebody I like quite a bit and who had a similar (though admittedly much less severe) life history. The other was a friend of his with a lot of personality traits similar to what I have. They both ended up giving me some advice (independently and together) that boiled down to this: You have to choose to go for it. Fear of failure is always going to be a part of who I am. In one of their words, if it doesn’t matter in 10 years, who cares? And if it doesn’t matter in 5, then what the fuck am I worrying about?

They are right, of course. I hope it doesn’t sound arrogant to say that it wasn’t anything new to me; once again, things I know logically and things I feel emotionally don’t always line up. Anyway, as I said, I liked one of them. He is precisely the kind of person I would love to be friends with. Good guy, smart, makes me laugh. More importantly, I think, he makes me want to be better than I am. That’s big for me. My need for a friend is literal–yes, I actually need a friend directly–but it is also symbolic: As much as the actual friend I need a victory, something to build on, something that encourages me to keep going along a positive path. And as I said, he had a similar experience in his teens that I did (and that I continue to have). I don’t have any reason to believe he was dysthymic, but he didn’t have friends and he was clearly unhappy about that — and he’d moved past it to become both incredibly popular and incredibly successful.

Here, then, was the perfect opportunity to put their advice into motion. My hope was that he would be able to see through the awkwardness and the barriers that I put up to protect myself and see something of value there. He didn’t really click with me when we met. I could sense it. He was super friendly, even inviting me out to lunch to begin with, but I don’t think he saw anything there. He certainly didn’t walk away thinking “damn, that guy would be an awesome friend!” I was trying to ride high on their advice though, and put it into practical use, so I went for it anyway. In my best “look how awkward and pathetic I am!” fashion I sent him a message–online, of course; you didn’t think I had the balls to say this kind of thing in person did you? The specific content isn’t important. It wasn’t a long message. It came down to this: I told him that I hoped he would give me a chance to show him I was more than the awkward person he met.

It was ignored. I know he saw it. I can’t take it to trial or anything, but I know. And it was ignored.

I don’t blame him. I’m sure that’s how I would have reacted in his place too. Being nice about it to somebody as pathetic as I obviously am isn’t likely to be much fun for him, and of course there is no way to respond negatively to a message like that and avoid hurting somebody, so just ignore it right? I don’t hold it against him.

I’m just so fucking tired of failing. This is the result every time I put myself on the line, even when it seems like just a little bit to normal people. And unfortunately the results are always bad. I always spin into an actual depression. I don’t regret it–yay guys, I put “no regrets!” into practice!–but it doesn’t hurt any less.

I’m left here wondering what’s wrong with me. That even people who I think understand why I am the way I am can’t see anything worth their time. Is it simply not worth dealing with somebody’s shit in hopes that a good friendship comes out the back side of it? Are my barriers so tall and so absolute that people can’t see past them? Or the worst thought of all: Maybe they see directly past them but don’t find anything redeeming. I have had (former) friends tell me–certainly not in these words, but they told me–that my friendship is not worth the trouble as they explained why it was that they had been avoiding me for months and had no plans to stop. It wouldn’t be the first time. Has all of this, all my weakness and fear and insecurity and pain, so hollowed me out that there really isn’t anything left?

Every time I get in this mood I start to think about death. I wouldn’t say I’m suicidal, but there’s certainly nothing about life that makes it worth living for me. I’m running out of patience. Seventeen years is a long time to tell yourself “maybe things will be better tomorrow.” Seventeen years of failures interrupted by only a few successes (many of which then turned into failures). How fucked up is it that I pretty much know I am going to end up killing myself at some point? It’s not now. It’s not even close–I have too many loose ends to tie up–but it feels inevitable. And I DEFEND that fucking thought! Life will give me happiness or it will end, the only question is the deadline. Is that unreasonable?  I mean, I’m not looking for every day to be sunshine and rainbows.  I know that everybody has their struggles, everybody has periods of pain and doubt — but that can’t be the defining characteristic of my life.  I can’t handle that much longer. 

Hope is something I have tried to rid myself of for exactly this reason.  To actually let myself hope, and then to fail again, absolutely fucking crushes me.  Until now those attempts have not been successful.  But now?  I’m not so sure.  If there was ever situation more tailor-made to go my way, I can’t think of it.  I found somebody I liked, that I wanted to be friends with, who had the set of life experiences that might allow him to give me the understanding and encouragement that I wrote about needing before; I found somebody who literally gave me the advice to get up my confidence and just fucking go for it.  I just fucking went for it.  And I failed anyway.

Talk about devastating.

Talk about devastated.

I’m yours for a while, Depression.  Let’s dance.

Shared Experience?

I often find myself feeling closer to people who have had similar experiences as I have.  To be sure, some of that is simple human nature: People tend to like others who are similar to themselves, and when we’re talking about things that are a large part of who we are–whether we would like them to be or not–that emotion is strengthened.

But for me, I think it is more.  I was musing about it the other day when I realized that part of me is looking for understanding.  I have been depressed, chronically and acutely.  I have been, and am, socially isolated.  I am not comfortable around people I don’t know and I avoid those kinds of interactions–which is an interesting Catch-22 (how do you get to know people you avoid because you’re uncomfortable about not knowing them?).  

In turn, my social skills are essentially nonexistent.  I can communicate well, especially in writing and especially anonymously (hi Internet!), but I avoid the interactions.  I don’t do the things normal people do.  The Friday before Memorial Day, we were debating closing the office early.  One of my co-workers asked if I was going to come with if they went out for drinks, something I had turned down two or three times before.  “You don’t have to drink,” she said, “just socialize.”  But I still turned it down.  If I got off early I was going to go home and… I don’t know, be alone I guess.  

That’s not who I want to be, but it’s who I am.  And so something I think I need in a friend, a reason I am so attracted to people who have had similar experiences, is understanding.  Understanding why I am who I am and how I am, naturally, but also understanding when to push and try to get me outside my comfort zone, yet also understanding when to back off and they’re pushing for something I am not in a position emotionally to give.  

It’s a tough balancing act and a lot to ask.  Why would any friend want to deal with my shit?  Why would anybody want that responsibility and that burden?  For somebody like me, who has no particular self esteem, it’s an even tougher question than it would be under otherwise identical circumstances.  But then again that’s not the point of this post, is it?

Perhaps this is part of the reason I find making friends to be so hard: I need too much.  I’m not sure it even enters my head to reach out to people who don’t fit that criteria, and I honestly don’t even know if that is a good thing or a bad thing; the last thing I need in my life is to open up to another friend who realizes later that I am more headache than I am worth, so perhaps this kind of “pre-screening” might be appropriate.  

Who knows.  If I had answers this blog probably wouldn’t exist.  I’m just a guy struggling with a lot of questions and self-analysis and trying to muddle through them out loud.

On Reaching Out

This is not one of my self-directed rants, as I suggested would be the blog’s focus.  It probably will, and I ended up writing one of those today as well.  But rather, I want to muse briefly on the difficulty in reaching out.

I feel strongly that I am a small push in either direction from salvation or decimation.  My main issue is that I am simply lonely, that I am unable to see any worth in myself that others might find endearing.  A friend–a real friend–might be a push sufficient to turn everything around.  Lack of it, or any number of other negatives might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

There are people I like, who I would love to be friends with, but I can’t reach out to them.  Why?  First of all I don’t like the weakness, but if it was just a matter of making myself look like precisely the kind of fool I am that wouldn’t be a hindrance.  

Rather, I refuse to burden them with my shit.  I tried that once.  I had a friend who made me feel safe, who made me feel like I could share my burden, and I did.  It didn’t take overly long for him to realize that I was more trouble than I was worth, however, and I got thrown to the curb like a sack of trash.  That is a lesson I did not fail to learn.  More than that, though, it’s simply not fair.  “I can’t handle this so uh — here, you do it.”  No.  That’s not fair, and it’s not something to do to somebody who I’m claiming I want to be friends with.

More importantly, the only way a friendship matters, the only way it can have any kind of positive effect, is if it is genuine — and I believe that it is genuine.  It can’t be because somebody pities me.  That’s not going to work for anybody.  

That makes what should be a simple thing, what probably is a fairly simple thing for the Normals out there, a rather tall order.  When you have no idea what you might have to offer people how can you offer it?  “Do you want to be my friend” might have worked in Kindergarten but its time has passed.  Unfortunately my social skills have not matured much beyond that.

So I reach out, kind of half way.  I just kind of float shit out there: “Something wrong?  If you need somebody to talk to I’m around.”  Essentially offering friendship and hoping that if they take me up on it that there might be a reciprocation at the end (not a reciprocation of an offer to let me bitch; I am over that, as I said).  Needless to say it does not go well.  Yet it is also as far as I have an ability to go.


A Hearty Hello

Hello, and welcome to my blog.

What, you ask, is this blog all about?  As you probably guessed from the title, the blog’s focus is dysthymia–a chronic, mild form of depression often punctuated by brief bouts of major depressive episodes.  According to Wikipedia, in addition to the chronic depressive qualities, dysthymia presents as low drive, low self-esteem and a low capacity for pleasure.  My photo is not yet next to the definition, but it may as well be.

However, I am not a doctor.  I do not feel qualified to talk about dysthymia as a disease.  I have also not been officially diagnosed, because I lack the strength to actually admit the problem and seek help.  You will find that to be a recurring theme.  Through all this, though, I am quite certain that I do suffer from it.  In fact, I have been suffering through it for almost 20 years.  And let me tell you: It is exhausting.

Just talking about the condition and how it affects me might be interesting, but it is not the route I have chosen to go.  Rather, I have chosen to publish some of my musings (for lack of a better term).  Periodically, when I am hit with a particularly dark period, I essentially rant against myself in writing as a form of catharsis.  These writings are never actually shown to anybody; many times they are deleted immediately after they are finished.  Now I am going to share them with the world, to illustrate exactly how dark and how dangerous this “mild” form of depression can be.

In order to accomplish this, in order to provide the most open possible glimpse into my head, some details are going to need to be changed.  I will be writing this blog anonymously.  Insofar as I believe that certain details may serve to identify me, I will alter or remove them.  If I feel that other peoples’ names should be changed if I need to talk about them, I will change those as well.  However do understand that they are in no way embellished, they are in no way manufactured — they are, in short, nothing but a raw glimpse into a diseased mind.

If you want to see the toll 20 years of depression takes, you’re in the right place.