I really can’t type that without singing it in my head. And the only other words I know are “Don’t know if I’ll be back again” so it’s just going to loop like that for at least the next eighteen hours. Fantastic.
As melodramatic as that title is, I don’t know how much more angsty my life can get. It’s only coming in, you know, 16 years too late. I didn’t quite have your Thomas Kincade, picturesque home life growing up. It wasn’t a war zone all the time but it sure as hell felt like anywhere we moved was located on a fault line and it was only a matter of time before the ground started shaking and shit started falling off the walls. So let’s call that, not the worst but far from idyllic.
Semi-related Sidebar (that was initially what came next in my entry).
Regardless (don’t-know-if-I’ll-be-back-again. Ugh, lord here it goes). If you’re not following, probably because you don’t have ADHD and prefer linear stories, well you’re welcome to have some of mine. Hell, I could delete this, probably should, but my whole point here is to genuinely communicate what I want to say and what, for my own sake, I need to articulate before I implode. It is probably over-indulgent and, ironically, in-genuine–would I really be getting this off topic if I was writing knowing for sure I would be the only one who would ever read this (which I probably will anyways and that’s okay)? I don’t know. I do tend to jump trains of thought.
Ok, let’s try again.
Regardless, I was not an angsty teenager though, as a decently objective adult, I probably would have had decent reason to be. I was hanging on too hard to school and sports, to this other life I got to live from 7:40 am to 9:00 pm most days of the week. So maybe all of that teenage angst built up and is comin’ for me now because whatever I do, I walk away with this flabbergasted, ironic frustration that despite my best efforts, no matter how reflective I try to be or how carefully, considerately, or precisely I try to speak, I am almost always misunderstood. It comes off as if I have a bad attitude. As If I am defensive. As if I’m attacking. Even when that couldn’t be further from where I feel like I’m coming from.
One of the shitty things about having a diagnosed mental illness, even around people who are more open-minded and less prejudiced than most, the second you have a radically different interpretation from everybody else, no matter how concrete you think your perceptions are, that doubt creeps in and people, including you, start wondering in the back of their minds if this is just you being a little erratic or your anxiety filtering your perceptions.
Dude. It’s fucking not. I mean, sometimes it is. And maybe I speak for myself on this one but even when I am my most irrational, I almost always KNOW I am being irrational. I just can’t control my emotions in hyper-drive and need a hot second, like you pushed the button or whatever on the Millennium Falcon but forgot you’re approaching a yellow light at an intersection. You’re going faster than you want to but you can fucking tell cars are flying by at too fast a rate. Maybe my speed is wildly inappropriate, but depression hasn’t eaten away so much of my brain that everything I say should be less credible than that of others.
It’s complicated. I have a whole hell of a lot of cognitive distortions. I do. So even I think, hell, it is a fair question whether my feelings and reaction to a situation are warranted if I am distorting any messages coming through. I question myself all of the time and that is the other half of this curse of mental illness. You are trying to convince other people you’ve got things when in the back of your mind, because they are so certain you don’t, you question if you’ve actually got it together. But the thing is, my cognitive distortions generally do not run in my favor. They generally run against me in social situations where I am giving myself a harder time than necessary and am finding reasons to put myself at fault in disagreements.
Another sidebar I find interesting. It reminds me of this book I read about Abe Lincoln and his depression…
The author cited research where people with depression and people without are playing video games. In both groups, they programmed the games the same way for I think two sets. They made it so the players, in spite of their handle of the controller, actually did not have an impact on the game. I really need to revisit this study because it’s cool and also fuzzy but the basic premise is that at one point the game went really well for both groups and at another, it was programmed not to go well. People without depression assumed when it was going well that it was because of them and when it stopped going well, I think they slowly figured it out. The one point that I for sure remember is that for the people with depression, they were able to tell that things did not line up and they could not take credit for the game going well because something was happening between their use of the controller and the events of the game.
In other words, they found that people with depression may more accurately evaluate themselves and, therefore, more accurately evaluate the events in their environment. This could be why leaders like Lincoln and Churchill who were–excuse my language but as I speak proudly as a misunderstood member of the community of mental illness patients–seen as screwed up in other circumstances tend to be the best leaders in dire circumstances. They are more able to accept things for what they are, to read the negative possibilities coming their way, and to address them. In a mind-blowing way, then, maybe it is less enjoyable but it definitely turns over our assumptions that, because of their differences, people with depression in comparison to those without are less accurate in their perspectives.
So, maybe we should put a little more stock in that whole, Honest Abe thing. It isn’t “Honest but had no idea what was going on” Abe. It is “Honest Abe.” As in, you could trust what he was saying. Abraham Lincoln was many things–he had some interesting (and by interesting I mean disappointing outside of the context of his particular time) ideas about what should happen to black people after slavery was abolished–but he was successful because he called things like he saw them. People knew he really struggled with “melancholy” a.k.a. depression long before he became president but it didn’t prevent them from appreciating the authenticity of his opinions.
Being depressed or anxious doesn’t mean that, when the rubber hits the road and my road looks a hell of a lot different than Suzy Square Normal’s road, I’m seeing potholes that aren’t there. Sometimes the person closest to me, who has the most insight into how I see the world, at least the most when it comes to the combination of constant and fairly honest, comes out of things with such an unbelievably different perception of what I meant to say, what I thought I said, that I question if maybe I do see everything on a severe tilt because of mental illness–in spite of the fact that my intuition says otherwise.
I don’t know. I don’t have any answers here, that’s for sure. I’m just saying, somewhere between I am a late bloomer when it comes to angst, effects of mental illness on how I perceive the world, or the subconscious stigma of it and personal prejudices forming a problematic filter for particular people around me, there is a reason that I feel like I am speaking a different emotional language half the time. I mean I could say up is up, and he could stare back at me confidently, and without a doubt be frustrated that I am suggesting down is up.
I don’t have angst. Shit just sucks right now and thanks to depression, maybe I see it a little more clearly. All I know is that other people think I’m flying when their feet are on the ground and hell, if they already think that and if I get vertigo from standing next to them, I might as well get on a real plane and go somewhere where somebody can understand me. I think that’s the loneliest and most painful part of mental illness. It distorts communication and cuts off your connection to others, which is the last thing you need.