~ Trigger Alert ~
The word ‘legacy’ does kind of suggest that something or someone has passed, legacy is about what is left, what remains. A legacy can leach through history. Like the effects Romans have had on the countryside, justice system, architecture, diet and goodness knows what else. Some legacies are more tangible like the ten bob your aunt left you. But perhaps those aren’t the ones with the most potency after all. I’ve heard of ‘legacy systems’ too, something to do with computing and possibly to do with whether or not your software came out of the metaphorical ark. Metaphorical because I don’t think Noah had a PC although he’d have loved CAD.
So I use the word with some caution when describing the effects that Depression has had on me. Or maybe has on me. Because, you see, Depression has not passed out of my life. Not just yet. Possibly never will. If it still exists, can it have a legacy? Mind you, if Depression is an inanimate … thing (words fail me), can it have a legacy anyway? I would argue that Depression is a sentient being, it does seem to know when best (from its perspective at least, worst from mine) to kick me up the backside (pardon the French*).
Anyway, here’s me trying to divert matters and enjoying all sorts of side shoots as I do, shall we get back to the subject in hand?
I’ve told you about the Voice in my head? Well, that’s sort of under control. Depending on how much stress there is in my daily life. (There’s a lot of it sometimes). Remember too that Alphabet of Emotions that I came up with even further back? Well I talked briefly about some of the issues then but I’d like to follow that up now.
These are the ones that I talked about in relation to Depression:
C is for Confidence
I lack confidence, you may have noticed, but this blog is the garden where I am growing my first crop. A measure of confidence and self-assurance is necessary. A life without confidence is very limiting and painful, I know. I have another post in the pipeline on this very subject so check back shortly!
D is for Doubt
Doubt follows that lack of confidence. It eats away at you, nibbling away at your edges until you’re unable to stand on your own. Doubt erodes safety and peace of mind; it’s like living on the edge of a very crumbly cliff. But there’s more to follow another time!
F is for Fear
No confidence, full of doubt? Then fear will naturally follow. Fear includes so much. Maybe for many, fear revolves around phobias. I have those too. Arachnids are on that list, or at least my entirely rational belief that these are vicious animals that live purely to ‘get’ me and that cobwebs are harmful may be. I’m terrified of losing things and of drowning, I hate having the windows open on a car journey and bridges over water are the stuff of nightmares. I’m scared of pain and am not ‘keen’ on medical personnel and procedures. I’m afraid of messing up, of getting things wrong. I’m a claustrophobe who hates sitting with people behind me. I suffer with panic attacks, I’ve always got an exit plan and my average ‘bounce’ rate is higher than that of the most doomed website. When times are uncertain and your financial situation shaky then the future can certainly induce fear, a gnawing worry or dread. Living with chronic illness, when you’re just not sure how tomorrow is going to feel adds to the uncertainty, the worry, the dread.
G is for Guilt
When you’re always doubtful and scared of messing up then too you will also spend your life feeling guilty. We quite often accidentally raise our children with guilt complexes: think of the children in Africa and eat your dinner, we can’t afford this but we’re giving you a present, you don’t know how fortunate you are to have the things you do because it was so much tougher when I was a child. Regrets are another form of guilt. Oh to have lived a life free from regrets! I guess that is a question of attitude, do we make the most of each moment, cherishing the precious and valuable in our lives? We have to assess our priorities and give our best each day, each moment. We can’t do more and only an unreasonable Depressed mind would expect it.
W is for Worrying
I worry. I worry a lot. I can worry even when I’m doing half a dozen other things. I can even worry when I am meant to be asleep. I worry about worrying. Need I say more?
This is the effect that Depression has on me. Depressions affects me every day of my life. I don’t even realise it half the time. But when I start thinking about it, I don’t know who I am without Depression. That’s scary. Everything I do, everything I say, everything I think. Depression.
That kind of sucks, doesn’t it?
Four of them really all come from the first one: doubt.
Doubt is erosive, maybe even corrosive. It is Depression eating away at me, gnawing at my soul until I’m just a gaping open wound. Depression takes away everything that you once believed in and completely trashes it. Depression never lets you believe another thing again, well not unless it’s negative.
It’s crazy but I struggle to even make a statement of fact. The earth is flat? Well I’m probably going to say something like ‘most folk believe that’ or ‘I understand it to be the case’. I may get it wrong because after all Depression tells me that I get everything wrong. Yeah, Depression loves generalisations like that. Broad, sweeping statements that bounce the pieces off the chessboard of life.
I can’t say that ‘we’re friends’ because that’s so presumptuous of someone who can’t be liked, who isn’t good enough for anything or anyone. I wistfully, tentatively say that ‘I am friends with‘. Whilst wondering how they really see me.
Doubt means that I have no trust or faith in myself. Depression has taught me to hate myself, to crush myself into powder because I am so unworthy. I can’t tell you anything about myself. I stick to bald facts and add disclaimers to prove that I’m not boasting, not being big-headed, that I do know how dire I am.
This presents various challenges in everyday life. How can I go to a job interview and sing my own praises as apparently I need to do? I know that I’m rubbish. I know that everyone else knows that too. They just do.
Doubt means I agonise over every little decision. Was that really the best value pasta sauce in the supermarket? Surely everyone else would have come to a different conclusion.
Doubt means that I don’t think I’m a good person. Woah, that’s a confident statement. At my worst, it’s I know that I’m not. Maybe there has been progress. It means I don’t believe/I know that I am unlovable. It explains why I’ve never had many friends and it’s not just the stigmatised stink of illness.
Doubt has me crippled. I can’t believe anything anymore. Do you know what that does to a person? There’s probably all kinds of beliefs that you have, that you almost take for granted. Whether they’re religious or social or ethnic or environmental or wherever else you’ve formed belief systems from. You can say with confidence that children should be in bed by 7 pm on the dot because you believe that. I believe nothing. Not for me. Most major belief systems are based on meritocracy too, I deserve nothing.
It is a weak human whose views are entirely based on those of others. But that is me. It’s not that I’m saying that I only believe things because they’re fashionable or because someone else believes that to be so. I do make my own informed decisions, I’m not a puppet, I’m not shallow. I just struggle to believe those decisions, I question them forever afterwards.
Where I am shallow, I guess, is that my view of myself is entirely based on what I seeing, hearing and feeling from others. For example, if other people are cross with me then I will assume, like a small child, then it is because they are cross with me. I am to blame, I am at fault. People don’t understand that I do that. And even if I say something and they say that they’re cross because something has gone wrong and not because they’re actually cross with me then I will still take that blame upon myself. I must have done something wrong for this to have happened. I link their mood with my guilt, something I must have done. I apologise, spend my day saying sorry for everything and anything. Well, it must be my fault somewhere along the line. They just tend to get funny with me when I say something. Vicious circle. It’s hard because people, you and me do it too, get cross and stressed out everyday for a whole variety of reasons. It also gets pretty tiring having the blame of the world on your shoulders.
It gets even more shallow.
I need other people to say good stuff about me. Now that’s a very big-headed, wicked, prideful thing to say. And also incredibly shallow. But I can’t think positive for myself. If the people around me are positive about me then I absorb that, my confidence grows and the Voice disappears. I start to make small victories over Depression.
But of course that is a lot to ask. (Depression says that’s because they’d have to lie all the time, that there’s nothing good anyone can say about me). In reality, people have their ups and downs. We’re not always fair to the people around us, sometimes we take our moods out on them. Sometimes there’s just too much stress for us to think about feeling and speaking good. But I really need that positivity around me.
That’s what living with my head is like. That’s how vital other people’s words are, day in, day out. Depression analyses everything. It doesn’t believe ‘I love you’ when you’re acting cross around me. It becomes a lie because you’re cross with me, for something I did. Depression creates negatives out of everything. You know that classic line people do when you’re going to take an exam or something? They say ‘I hope that you do well’. Depression sees the negative of that. It means that they don’t think or know that you will do well. It means you will fail.
It’s absolutely exhausting. And writing this post has been absolutely draining. It probably doesn’t even make sense. And you’ll think that I’m an absolute nutcase. I am worn out by these battles though, I am old enough and in some ways wise enough to realise that there are other realities out there. Unfortunately I’m stuck with mine, a legacy from my old friend Depression. It is something which leaches its rank stain through my soul, my very essence. It is inescapable and tied up in too many conditions. There is no love in this legacy, just imprisonment and bitterness.
Thank you for reading.
Oh, and I’m sorry. (I’m always sorry).
* Why are the French always blamed for the presence of bad language? What is this premise that presupposes that they all use incredibly vulgar language? I’ve never met a shred of evidence for it, I would in fact as go as far to suggest that the English use of the English tongue is the worst example of linguistic murder ever. Or best. And why do people effuse about a blue moon? I’ve never heard the moon say a single word much less cuss. If it’s any consolation, French women blame the English for other troubles, les Anglais sont debarqués.