The Depressed Elephant In The Room

This is a real stream of consciousness, a babble, but it’s a cathartic exercise and I guess only depressives will really ‘get it’. I HAVE TO write it down or I’ll explode. Sometimes I feel that I’m the only one I can talk to and that this laptop is the only medium through which I can ‘talk’ to myself.

I’ve said that people who suffer from CLINICAL depression have something in common with addicts, e.g. alcoholics. Alcoholics who haven’t touched a drop of alcohol for 10 years, they still refer to themselves as alcoholics, recovering alcoholics but still alcoholics. I believe that clinical depressives are always clinical depressives. It’s an illness which can’t be cured but can, at best, be kept at bay. There is always the danger that the symptoms will return just as there’s always the danger than the alcoholic who hasn’t touched alcohol for 10 years will fall off the wagon.

Tom Peters and Robert Waterman, in their book “In Search Of Excellence”:

“Label a man a loser and he’ll start acting like one”.

It’s called ‘Labelling Theory’: I came across it when I was studying law at University, the point there being that if you call a child a criminal, he/she will think of him/herself as a criminal and will behave like one. We shouldn’t tell a child that he/she is a naughty child, just that the thing he/she is doing is naughty.

“Label a man a loser and he’ll start acting like one”, it’s part of that theory.

The problem is when one calls oneself a loser and can’t stop thinking that way. When it’s a symptom of clinical depression, it is a real problem because, often, you can’t stop it. You spend your whole life telling yourself you’re a loser which means you feel like a loser and that disables you.

I think that calling someone a loser, referring to someone as a loser, it’s hitting low, as ‘they’ say, below the belt, it’s a low punch. So when a man/woman calls him/herself a loser, it doesn’t get much more personally damning.

Depression is a nightmare, a 24/7 struggle and only sleep is an escape from what is a constant battle, a battle to hold on to the edge of the cliff, a battle not to let go, a battle to stay on the right side of the line, a line between light and darkness, a line between the person you are trying to be, the person you portray to the outside world and the person you really are  –  you fight constantly not to give in, not to fold, not to collapse in a heap. It’s a constant fight with your demons.

One of the heavy symptoms of depression is loneliness, the feeling that you are alone, that no one understands you, that you are completely misunderstood, that you are pointless, that those around you would be better off if you weren’t there, that everyone around you thinks you are a pain in the backside. You feel that you are surplus to requirements, that you fulfil no meaningful role in the lives of those who are kind of stuck with you. Your demons tell you that everyone, your family, your wife, your children, would be better off if you weren’t around, that you are an albatross round their necks.

You feel like it’s a terminal illness, that there really is no cure, that the end is coming, that your life is ebbing away, you feel it ebbing away, and that things will only get worse as you decline. You get to a point when you feel that it’s as difficult to walk away from depression as it must be for someone with two broken legs to drop his/her crutches and to keep walking. You are constantly punched by that inner voice saying “You’re a loser, you can’t”.

Believe me, there is not one iota of self-indulgence in this blog and it is absolutely not a ‘cry for help’, this is not me fishing for gushing praise, compliments or “we love you, darling” posts. I can no more hold compliments and praise in my hands than I could hold white hot coals. My demons repel them. I’m afraid that, and I don’t mean to be ungrateful, I feel that comments like “oh, you are a wonderful person and we love you” are patronising, like they are little pats on the head.

I hate how I feel but I’m not ashamed of it. I’m no more ashamed of it than is a diabetic ashamed of his/her diabetes or than an asthmatic is ashamed of having to carry around his/her inhaler.

My wife, the kids, mum, dad, they will all ask me to get rid of this blog but it’s my only outlet, it really is cathartic and I’m sure it helps other sufferers to know that they are not alone in feeling the way they do. Clinical depressives often try to hide it, to pretend that everything is ok, to just keep going, but, eventually, there’s an explosion. You can only listen to people around you talking to you like you are rubbish for so long…eventually, you can’t hear it any more. You can only handle being misunderstood for a limited amount of time, saying ‘black’ and knowing that everyone around you thinks you are saying ‘white’. How long can you cope with your attempts to help people being received as grumpy criticism?

People think I should pull myself together?%$#@!

People around me will tell me that I’ve got it all wrong. I haven’t!

The only person who accepts me for what I am, who loves me unquestioningly, who needs and wants me, who doesn’t criticise me, the only person I can be next to and feel comfortable with, is my youngest child who is 8 years old. I used to feel like that with my other children but they’ve ‘gone’, teenagers who I can barely recognise today. I know that that is what happens to kids when they are teenagers but it doesn’t make it easier to handle. It’s all monosyllabic grunting. It’s horrible. My 8 year old, he loves me, wants me and needs me and it’s the most wonderful feeling in the world. I want to hold onto it. When I feel that with my children, I know that they are the only good and successful things I have done with my life so it’s hard to cope with having lost that with my teenage kids. Until recently, this delusional 49 year old wanted another child and I realise now that it was only because it’s the only thing I can do, create a bundle of love (which, sadly, goes off the boil after about, in the case of girls, 11 years, in the case of boys, 13 years). It was also a need motivated by, I think, a desire to hold onto youth, to stop old age imprisoning me.

Mum, dad, my wife…I’m the elephant in the room. Enough said. For dad and my wife, it’s too complicated, everything, what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, how I’m feeling, it’s all egg shells and best to avoid walking on them. Dad loves me very much but he can’t deal emotionally with the mess that I am, it’s too complex…dad is the most incredible man in so many ways, as a father, a husband, grandfather, brother, as a man, as a businessman, in life, he is incredible and I am ashamed of myself in his presence. He’s a success and he, and mum, gave me everything as a kid to ensure that I would have a great chance of making a success of my life. In that, I have failed  –  I feel it next to him and it makes for an explosive mix when he addresses the matter of the elephant in the room. Neither of us want to talk about ‘it’. I can’t hide from mum, she can see straight through me, she ‘gets it’. I’m still an elephant in the room to mum but she senses my torment better than anyone. My sister loves me but she just sees me as the most complicated person she knows. Tony, my ‘brother’, he knows me well, he could be shown this blog as an anonymous piece of writing and he’d know straight away that it’s mine. Tony knows what makes me tick, Tony ‘gets it’.

Yup, having a tough day and, dear family, don’t ask me to delete this blog, don’t try to silence me  –  this is my only voice, the only way I can lance the boil.

  • Rose
    June 26, 2015

    Depression is so tough. I finally found a med that helps , and I truly fear that I’ll run out or they’ll stop making it. I still get very sad, but not depressed anymore, thank god! But only because of the meds. Depression. . Nothing makes you feel better for more than a half hour, and there’s literally nothing else anyone can do until your body just decides it wants to stop. Then you spend the next little bit until the next episode apologizing to everyone for putting up with you . It’s horrible . Lexapro broke the cycle for me (not citalopram!), but it takes forever to find the right thing .

    • Koby Gould
      June 26, 2015

      Thanks, Rose! If you read the ‘ABOUT ME’ section of my blog, you’ll see how bad things got…I am a lot, LOT, better than back in the bad times! On the whole, I manage very well (with citalopram and a betablocker, Metoprolol, for the anxiety attacks). It’s just that, every now and then, I go into a short term dive…can be months between them. I have wondered in the past if there’s a touch of bipolar about my depression. The blog you have read, it did prove cathartic in the drafting and I felt better at the end of the day. Most of the time, I am ok and, often, I do feel happy. The ongoing ‘problem’ is a chronic lack of self-belief/self-confidence and I am working on it these days. At least I am aware that that is one of my problems so I know that I have to address it. Depression, for me, sometimes I look out of the window and feel distant from what I see. I can be walking in the street, be in the surroundings and yet feel like I’m not part of it, not connected. Sometimes I do feel connected, sometimes I’m a stranger looking in from afar. Know what I mean? I can have wonderful, loving family around me and yet feel completely alone, that sense of loneliness which I think lots of people who suffer with depression feel.

      I’ll look into that Lexapro. Thanks, again, and wishing you all the best!!

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