I think it might be time to get back on the antidepressants. I've been on them before and I haven't taken any for quite a few years, but I think it's time to get back for a bit.
I've been trying to do the things I've been told to do: I've been physically active, running and hiking; I've been pursuing my interests by playing music, trying to record music & trying to take interesting pictures; I've been visiting friends and family who love me and whom I love in return; I've been trying to get out there in the world and talk with people in public; I've been trying out new activities, like camping and spending time at the gym; I've varied my responsibilities at work, even joining up with the school's Pro-D committee.
However, I'm still having trouble climbing out of this hole. Usually Spring lifts my spirits a bunch, but right now it's just not happening. Despite the list above, I'm also doing a lot of laying around, I'm barely able to focus at work, and I'm not really enjoying anything I've been doing. I haven't been calling people to chat. I think the symptoms point pretty directly to depression.
And, as much as I've tried to deal with it myself, my doctor agrees.
In such progressive circles as my own, it's not supposed to be a stigma to take antidepressants. In fact, people seem to laud those who admit to taking antidepressants. In the popular media, Mental Health Awareness Days are legion and it's supposed to be something we can talk about and articulate. On social media, people vulnerable enough to admit to taking antidepressants seem to be lauded as "brave" in their respective networks.
But the stigma's there in spite of it. I, for example, have been checking job boards while simultaneously thinking about taking antidepressants, fearing that admitting it will reflect poorly on my to prospective employers. It's a little nerve-wracking. Am I brave for taking them, or am I unstable? I can't quite tell.
But I also dislike the idea of taking antidepressants in the first place. Running, doing activities you love, visiting with friends, etc.. it should be enough. But for now it isn't. I can go for a run, but my brain still spins as soon as I stop; I can play guitar, but my sessions get shorter and shorter. My current methods, myriad as they are, haven't been working, no matter what I think. I may not like taking antidepressants, but it's probably in my best interest that I do.
There's one catch here, of course. The dominant feature of my life is my kids, and they live ever so far away right now. We're still sorting that out. And although I might be able to move closer one day, the "limbo" I'm in right now is nothing short of dominant in my mind. This separation/divorce process is exhausting to say the least. No amount of endorphins from a 10km run can distract my brain from trying to compensate for that distance, for this separation.
So perhaps it's time to get a little bit of a pick-me-up from some antidepressants. Perhaps that's a little bit fair.
When coping, we all project to some degree or another. When we empathize, we project a little bit upon others and assume that we can get into their shoes and see things from their perspective. We need to project a little bit because, ultimately, we're all alone. We do our best to make community, but ultimately we're very alone.
A few months ago I came across this infographic while navigating Pinterest. It really bothered me to discover it. However, I've learned to do my best to pay special attention to things that seem to irk me, so here it is:
My issue is that I really don't want to be the manipulator. But I read through those "red flags" and can't help but feel like I've taken part in a good portion of those.
But I've gotten to a point where I second-guess my intentions so much that I can't help but feel like I must be a manipulator, that I must be a desperate, terrible person to have the desires that I do, to have said the things I have. And then I spiral downwards, unable to even fully come to grips with my own sense of reality. And I wonder if I'm just some projection machine, blasting everyone around me with my own ego.
That's the thing about being in relationship with people: friends, intimate partners, spouses, children, etc.: context really does make a difference. All. The. Time. And we hope that our relationships can share a common reality.
And when they don't seem to share that common reality, our shared projection gets blurry and out of focus. And then we realize just how alone we can be.
So I'm astoundingly grateful for those relationships with whom I seem to be able to share a common projection, with whom it seems like we can look at the same screen and perceive a clear image. I cherish shared a clear images of the world, even if the image itself is a little unseemly.
I've tried to write about the idea of "narcissism" before. For a while there, psychological diagnoses took up a significant amount of my thinking. For the last four months or so, however, I haven't been thinking about them much at all. After all my self-directed studies, the books I read, and the podcasts I listened to, I decided to focus on what's in the heart and to try to stay away from armchair amateur psychological diagnosis. I'm not a professional in that field; I shouldn't even begin to pretend to be one.
Over the last couple days, this letter by Allen Frances found its way onto The New York Times:
And then I got to hear this articulate and pithy interview with Frances on CBC's As It Happens:
I admit it: this backs up my current prejudice to let the professionals take care of this sort of thing. I admit that it's made me very uncomfortable to hear people throw the words around because I thought it was OK to throw the words around too, despite all the warnings like the one above.
I appreciate Frances' attitude here:
And I'd say this is a good attitude to have going forward: focus on behavior, focus on democracy, and focus on what really affects people about Trump's behavior. But don't try to diagnose him; it's too contentious and speculative to be worthwhile.
I haven't been able to afford to continue therapy with my psychologist for the last couple months, but the therapy was effective overall. There, I was able to talk through childhood to the present and identify a few common patterns and issues that have culminated to my current mindset. I am fully aware that the psychologist was just working with what I presented him during the sessions, and that I likely gave him a skewed vision of myself and others, but it was something nonetheless and gave me some data to work from.
When he first suggested that I may be "codependent," I immediately got defensive and said "no," but I've learned to pay attention to my defensiveness and decided to look into it further. When I did, I was crestfallen by the familiarity of what I read, particularly when I realized that codependent characteristics were often considered virtuous in my upbringing.
He made it very clear that I have codependent characteristics and tendencies. Based on what he heard from me, he identified my sense of responsibility for others' feelings, my willingness to sacrifice and martyr my own needs for the sake of the perceived needs of others, my habit of acquiescing to pressure in order to maintain harmony, and a few other classic codependent traits. I fit the bill.
Most importantly, we talked about personal boundaries, a topic that made me cringe. I'd associated personal boundaries with selfishness until I read about them in Nonviolent Communication, and I couldn't even make sense of them for a while in the therapy room. And I've been working through this, concussing myself through my childhood indoctrination, and it's tough.
I don't mean to be cyber-redundant. I've tried to write about them here, and I tried to talk about them here, but I don't think I've got a full grasp on them yet,
But I think I've figured out two very important personal boundaries for me:
I'm working on it. It's hard. But I'm getting there.
A few months ago I posted that "Adulting" is a sort of tragedy; I wrote,
EXTRA: I'm really proud of this little cellphone photo I took last night while we were riding our bikes to the swimming pool:
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