I’ve written here repeatedly about my ongoing issues with depression as I grapple with it, trying to survive, to overcome it, maybe even to heal. I don’t talk much about how bad it can get, because I’m afraid of sounding melodramatic, or worse yet, making someone else feel a bit uncomfortable. Wanting to die is a re-occurring issue for me. That’s different from wanting to kill myself – less violent, more like a yearning for a simple off switch. On my saner, calmer days, the issue of how not to get into such a dark place that I want to die, is something I pay attention to.
I know exhaustion is a trigger. The more worn down, burned out, threadbare I get, the more likely that I start to feel that only the end of my existence will put me out of my misery. Prolonged bouts of pain have the same effect, and both of which can be tackled without having to top myself, and mostly I do manage to remember this even though I can feel really, really awful.
Perhaps my biggest trigger – or at least the biggest one I’ve identified – is fakery. The more energy I pour into being a tidy, acceptable sort of person, the more likely I am to feel hollow, threadbare and suicidal. The harder it is for me to be myself, the less will to live I can muster.
The trouble is that I’m a bloody awful person to be around. I know a lot of people like my blogs, books, social media stuff, but I’m like this all the time. Always thinking this intensely, always as deeply emotionally engaged, always this intense. I feel everything keenly, I worry a lot, I think, and think more. In person, the emotional intensity may be more of an issue. Add to this that I’m obsessive (this is where blogs come from) and thin skinned. I care about everything I run into and have an awkward habit of loving passionately the people who are in my life. I try and tone it down, but it’s hard and requires a lot of attention.
That might sound ok as a paragraph in a blog, but in real life, it isn’t. There have only ever been 2 people who have encountered me in a sustained way as I really am, and not run away or asked me to tone down. It can be lonely sometimes, and every friendship is a waiting game. How long can I last? How long can I fake it for before I slip up and am too real? And all the while, the faking it is taking me apart and digging me a deep, dark hole.
For anyone who wants a quiet, gentle, peaceful, easy going sort of life, I am, quite simply, too much. Too intense. Too serious. Too passionate. Too giving. I’ve heard them all and more along the way, repeatedly. So I’ve bent and battered myself trying for more acceptable, harmless shapes. This morning I realised that this is, metaphorically speaking, killing me, and if I keep it up sooner or later it might quite literally kill me.
I’m choosing life.
This means I am not going to be a tidy fake for anyone again. I have a number of strategies for how I’m going to handle this. Absence and silence are at the top of the list. Not being in places where there are people. Moving away if I feel something. Holding distance. I’m an ok person to have as a casual acquaintance, but that may be the limit, and for everyone’s sake, I need to hold those lines better.
My bet is that most people won’t see much difference anyway. It’s possible there are one or two people who would choose to have me in the raw (ever the optimist, me) but I’m going to be looking for much clearer feedback in the future. People are going to have to opt in, really clearly, using the kind of small words I can’t possibly mistake for anything else. You would have to love me a lot to do that, and you would have to be ok with the idea of being loved in return.