Yeah, it is a real pain in the ass. It is a new experience for me, not in the fact that I’m depressed but rather in the fact that I’m acknowledging and actually trying to do something about it. I’m reading up on as well as dealing with the smattering of other mental abnormalities I seem to be suffering from. I’m having a hard time digesting some of the information, simply based upon my previous negative view of psychiatry and its outlying fields. While I’m still not trusting of the field of study, I am no longer viewing it as huckster nonsense or sheer Carnyism, as I did before.
On Wednesday October 26th 2011 I took my first step in trying to deal with my problem. I had scheduled an appointment with the local free mental health clinic to get a Mental Health Assesment. I was not crazy about this idea but a person has to start somewhere. I sat and talked to a Clinician for nearly 3 hours. I did not like this person. I found her demeanor and tone with me to be utterly condecending. It is my experience that if you talk to someone, an adult, in pain as if they are a 5 year old then the chances of that person truly opening up are kind of slim.
This Mental Health Assesment was the most uncomfortable thing I’ve ever sat through, even without the world’s most annoying clinician. I went over the events of the last 6-8 months of my life and fllied in the gaps of history along the way. I was as frank I could be given that I was dealing with a person who behaved like a Kindergarten instructor. Amaziingly many things were discovered and not really discovered during the course of this assesment.
First let’s deal with some stuff about me. I’m 39 years old, I have trouble holding steady work, a High School Education with a few years of college but not a Bachelor’s Degree. I am a child of adoption but do not know , nor have I ever had a real desire to know my birth parents. I was raised by a loving mother and father and had a pretty stable home life. My parents were a wee bit too fixated on me overachieving like mt sister. The problem was I didn’t have that need to please them the way she did. They never really supported any of my hobbies finding them to be low-brow and beneath them. o this day, my father has a sound of disappointment in his voice when he hears I still read comics.
The need of my parents wanting me to overachieve had anadverse affect on me. It me want to just maintain what I could maintain and not really strive to do much. It didn’t help that at school I was somewhat of an awkward kid with few friends. I wasn’t dejected because I was an outcast or anything, I just had very little in common with my fellow classmates. I wanted to just be a kid, they all seemed ot be in a hurry to be growun-up. This meant I spent a lot of time by myself. I am used to being solitary but I by no means like it. It is just something I am used to. The problem is, to this day even when I am surrounded by friends now, I still feel a sense of isolation and loneliness.
I’ve felt very alone for many years now. I’ve very few close relationships with new people, most of my closer friends have known me 10 years or more. Making new friends for me is tricky becasue I am not as open with my feelings as I should be becasue I am used to isolation. The thing is I don’t enjoy the isolation but because I’ve been used to it for so long it is what I am accustomed to. When I actually do meet and befriend someone new it means I’m letting them into the world of a very emotionally sheltered person. I think in the last 10 years, emotionally I’ve let 4 people in. The problem here is that once I let them in, if things fall apart with the friendship I have a very hard time letting them out.
One of my mental issues is being obsessive. I do suffer from Obsessive Compulsive tendencies. There is a misconception about obsessive people and those with OCD, especially as how they are portrayed by popular media. Being Obsessive Compulsive doesn’t mean that I have to have all my shoes facing west all the time or that I’m sort of a neat freak to the Nth Power. Ask any one of my friends about me and the term “neat” and they would probably wonder if you were actually talking about me. What my Obsessive Compulsive side does is make me follow routines as far as my behvior goes This is both a good and bad hing becasue if I am following a bad pattern of behavior then breaking that pattern is an almost impossible thing to do because it is part of my obsessive routine.
This NOT an excuse for any of my past behavior. This is a huge problem in my life that I am only now admitting and trying to come to grips with. The side effect of my obsessive tendencies is anxiety. If my routine is disrupted and in turn unable to fix a problem, my obsessive side cannot cope with it and I become stressed out resulting in high anxiety. This is especially the case if I try to attack a problem from a logical standpoint and the it isn’t correcting the issue. I only realized recently that I was using logic in from an illogical perspective and when I do that it is easier for my anxiety to take control of me. The bad part of that is, once I calm down and my anxiety subsides the end result is depression.
When I am in a state of depression, the logic I usually try to apply to everything leaves me. I become easily angered and frustrated. It wasn’t until recently I realized that I had been taking out my anger and frustration on the people closest to me. I can’t imagine watching a person come undone and self-destruct right in front of you. It can’t be easy for any friend to see. It has to be even worse when they try to help you and you shove them away, insisting tht you don’t need help. My depression is a real bastard and thus makes me a real bastard in turn. So when the people around me threw their hands in the air (metaphorically speaking) and determined they couldn’t help me I felt betrayed. The hardest hit was one friend deciding to cut all contact off with me. She did this because she had her own life and own drama to deal with and my behavior and actions had hurt her a great deal.
I was very angry and upset over this. I didn’t comprehend why this person decided to do this “to me”. My anger manifested a thousand fold and I lashed out aginst this person in any form I could. This only drove them away further. The problem was, I was projecting my anger onto them as an excuse because I couldn’t face who I was actually angry with. I was angry at myself. I was angry at myself becuase I drove them away and I didn’t want to take responsibility for it. I couldn’t admit that it was my behavior that fucked up a great friendship with a pretty great person. I had taken every negative aspect of myself and blamed them for it instead of looking at myself in the mirror and saying “You! Asshole! I blame you! You drove her away and you’re driving everyone else away!”.
It took a friend of many years, someone who cares about me a great deal to sit down and yell at me till it got through to me that the problem in my life was me. That I was angry at myself for my behavior and I had to own up to it. The problem was she had been trying to tell me this for months but it wasn’t getting through. My anxiety and depression had made me so stubborn out of habit and routine that I had it fixed in my head that I HAD to be right. The truth of the matter was, I wasn’t right and had destroyed a friendship I really did treasure.. It was when my old friend told me “James, I love you but I can’t do this anymore. I have my own shit I have to deal with, my own life and my own problems. I can’t walk you trough your life. You keep leaning on me for help but I can’t handle this kind of burden. Your hurting me by making me do this and if it doesn’t stop I’m not sure we can be friends anymore”.
My normal pattern of behavior in an instance like that would normally be to sulk and shut the person out. I coldn’t do that to this Friend. This Friend was one of my oldest and dearest companions. She was telling me I had to face myself or this oldest of friendships was dead. It was that level of seriousness that made me sit down and confront my anger. She sat there with me over the phone as I did this and identified every point of anger I could think of and made me confront and take responsibility for them.
Now this doesn’t mean I “Got Better” off of one conversation. I have years of therapy ahead of me more than likely. How I’m going to get it I don’t know but I at least know where to start. The benefit of my Mental Health Asesment was that, even though I didn’t like my Clinician and thought she was a demeaning git, she did sign me up for an 8 week group therapy seminar. Is it the deep psychoanalytic or psychiatrich help I might need? No, but it is a starting point and really, I’ve needed this starting point for way to long and to not go to the starting line for the long race ahead would do me more harm than good.
Author’s Note:What you’ve just read is a Cliff Notes version of what I’ve been dealing with mentally. There is a lot more to this story but I’m not going to drag every detail of the last 6-8 months of my life on Brave Blog because there are those who ahve been dealing with this problem and dealing with me for the length of that. I did not use anyone’s names or fabricate names. I’m not hiding anything yet still recognize their right to privacy. Besides, these people know who they are and know I wouldn’t drag them through the mud unwillingly. In the end this about me and my struggle with my mental health or at the least coming to grips with it. I can’t promise this will be my last posting on this subject. I am writing about this as a form of cathartic therapy for myself. I think it has actually been very helpful to put things into words. Only time will tell in the long run.