My psychiatrist is a man of dry wit and broad interests and knowledge. We are generally able to shift into the same gear quickly and effortlessly.
But now it takes everything he has to not roll his eyes at me.
I just told him I want to die.
“My dear Mr. H., surely you do not condemn yourself to the harshest punishment imaginable, simply because a girl left you?”
He’s so off the mark that for a second I do not know how to respond.
Oh, don’t get me wrong: it would be perfectly in character!
Heartache + a lifelong tendency towards depression + a particularly well-developed penchant for drama = Wuthering Heights to the power of Tommy Wiseau.
I can picture the scene in a split second: flinging my hand to my forehead, the other reaching in vain for an unattainable love disappearing forever into the setting sun. The beleaguered heart no longer able to bear a burden so woeful, faltering, breaking and me, sinking slowly and gracefully to the ground.
Pan to the magnificent sunset. Cue thunderous end chord.
Fade to black.
But he’s wrong.
Yeah, yeah, OK. Fair enough. It would be dishonest of me to suggest my recent break-up wasn’t a catalyst.
Of course it was.
So que the hell pasó anyway?
2018 was a rough year.
Work caused me – I realised far too late- to skirt closely to the edge of a massive burn-out.
My twenty years relationship, for all the wonderful and amazing things we also did, was getting in more and murkier turbulent water, breaking on ever more pointed rocks. Walking on egg shells had become the standard mode, and I didn’t even realise the toll it was taking.
Then SHE came.
After holding my breath for far too long, SHE taught me how to breathe again. SHE energised me, gently forced me to rethink, reconsider and rediscover many of my convictions and innermost values.
SHE inspired me to take a broom to closets closed for decades.
So of course I fell in love.
In the process I deeply hurt my partner of twenty years. The overwhelming guilt nearly did me in at that time. I made bad mistakes and did awful things. She deserved much better. I will carry that guilt until my dying breath.
But in the end I left.
And entered, oh so carefully, into this new undiscovered country.
I was curious, dedicated, motivated. Loving. Caring. I felt human. And I was so happy.
And maybe most importantly, for the very first time in my life I was completely and utterly honest and transparent in everything I did and felt. Oh yes, as incredible as that may sound, that was actually new for me. I shall touch more on this in later posts. It’s pretty important.
After one month SHE fell in love with another.
After two months SHE was gone. Completely.
And I broke.
The entire weight of every single bit of strain up until that point annihilated any tenuous bit of foundation I was trying to lay to try and rediscover and rebuild myself. After the earthquakes –the self-inflicted ones as well as the ones that took me by surprise- that I had managed to survive, this one destroyed everything.
My hopes, my trust.
My sense of self reliance.
My self esteem, my self worth.
You’re insane, my child, quite insane.
Full disclosure (which is, after all, a lot of what this blog is about): I am –for better or for worse- no stranger to mental health care.
As mentioned, depression has plagued me for the entirety of my life, as long as I can remember (which is roughly back to when I was about four years of age).
I have had a number of crashes in my life ranging from slightly troubling to shatteringly catastrophic.
The worst one so far, following a fairly half-hearted suicide attempt, was in 1996, when I actually had to be admitted into a psychiatric facility for a month before starting on an arduous year long journey to recovery.
At that time I was diagnosed -as I already knew I would be and to the surprise of positively noone- with severe clinical depression (Chronic Major Depressive Disorder, according to the then-used DSM-4. It seems discontinued as a term in DSM-5)
I was handed a number of tools to deal with it. Most I have employed with quite a bit of success.
Yet depression was never absent in my life. I kept it at bay most of the time (I always imagined it as a very patient wolf, waiting outside my door with her cubs for an opportunity to come in). But I was never free of it.
Little did I realise that the depression was not a cause, but an effect .
Most recent tests unfortunately have shown me suffering from several -oh yes, I have never been one for less than total abundance!- personality disorders that actually can (and do) cause these incapacitating bouts of depression.
Erase and rewind
So, yet another entire reboot seemed to be in order.
According to the many books I have read and experts I consulted I should count on being on my feet again roughly in time for my retirement (well, less hyperbolically: maybe up to 5 years). And it will –as always- take an incredible amount of effort.
And then it happened. The realisation hit me like a steam shovel with seventeen 1000-watt floodlights attached while a brass band playing the theme from 1941 was setting off fireworks.
Oh HELL NO.
This is not going to happen. I literally and honestly do not want it to.
I will not do yet another reboot.
Every single previous crash required a full reassessment. Every change meant a readjustment of everything I was. I have turned so many times –with the best of intentions and the deepest held love of, by and for my surroundings- that I realise now I had no clue where I should even want to end up.
And now I know. This is IT. End of story!
I’m closing the book, and I’m fine with that.
No, wait. Not fine. I’m actually happy with that!
When I became aware that this was not merely an option but a solution, I felt so incredibly relieved I actually wept.
For the very first time in my life I actually felt free.
And in the days following I walked lighter. The sun felt brighter. Free. Finally free. I smile even typing these words.
I have a plan. I have the means. And I have a timeline.
And this time it’ll work.
Where do we go now (sweet child)?
So. This sounds like I’ve already made my mind up, doesn’t it?
Well, this is where it gets interesting. While I am by nature quite the emotional bloke (some peope would, less generously but not inaccurately, even label me ‘sentimental’), I have a strong, very strong cognitive streak.
It’s not stood me in the best of steads historically, as in my younger years I continuously abused that ability to completely “divorce” (for lack of a better term) my deeprooted sense of hurt, fear, loneliness and maddening vulnerability from…well, from me. I reasoned that if I simply removed access, I didn’t have to hurt any more, right?
Ah, to be so young and naive…
Anyway, that ability, that voice if you will, is there again, in the back of my mind. It calmly explains to me that there are other options that at least deserve consideration. And I do indeed strongly feel it would be unfair, unreasonable and illogical if I did not at the very least give that my attention. If only to prove to myself I have looked at this from every single possible angle, and have considered this as carefully and clearheadedly as I can.
And I can. I’m actually, though in an objectively dark place, quite a smart guy, even if I do say so myself.
Also vain. Did I mention that before?
So is this a crossroads? I honestly don’t know.
But hell, it’s interesting.
It’s very, very interesting.
Next post: State of the curmudgeon
Let me take you along on a typical day in my head. Buckle up.
- Song for the day:
- Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/track/33CeM8NI7tfrNgciVOFMoo?si=N_LSUUi3Qgif2Q6BmFMO4g
“Oh my God, I feel it in the air
Telephone wires above
Are sizzlin’ like a snare
Honey I’m on fire, I feel it everywhere
Nothin’ scares me anymore”