When Depression Consumes Identity
Sometimes people have the luxury of reducing their identity down to one thing. “I’m a writer.” “I’m a partner to SoandSo.” “I’m a student.” “I’m a traveler.” “I’m a democrat.” You get my drift. This can be a really nice thing, because it can give a person a sense of purpose, a direction for their life. Or, even if it doesn’t give a direction, it can soothe the existential crisis in their hearts because they finally have a name for who they are—they can put a word to a feeling. But not all people have this luxury; some people feel hopeless disconnection with the rest of the world and everyone in it.
I bet you can guess which type of person I am right now.
When most people are going through a rough time they stop and examine their identities—you know, they start hanging out with their friends, they pick up an old hobby, they go home to their family. Going back to your roots is an important part of the healing process, because it reminds you that you used to exist (and do an adequate job of existing) before your crisis. But sometimes a person has nothing to go back to—nothing seems to quench the pain, nothing is comforting enough to cling onto. So they spiral…they are like a dying star, collapsing onto themselves until they implode. And when they implode, everyone likes to shrug and say stuff like, “Well, if they needed help so badly, they could have come to me. Geez, it’s not that complicated.”
Here’s the thing, it is complicated. When a person without an identity or a support system has depression, their first instinct is basically everything you know they shouldn’t do. They don’t want to call a friend, they don’t want to go to the doctor, they don’t want to go see a funny movie and they don’t want to take a hot bath. The first instincts of depression always are along the lines of: do nothing, say nothing, pretend everything is fine, curl up in a ball and cry, stare at the walls until you don’t feel anything, drink until you don’t feel anything, smoke until you don’t feel anything, do anything that makes you feel nothing, entertain ideas about walking out in front of traffic, etc. And this isn’t a little devil on your shoulder telling you to do these things, it’s your brain. Your brain, the essence of who you are, is telling you to essentially give up. Not only is that completely fucked up, it’s heartbreaking.
So what’s a person to do? You can’t trust your brain, you can’t go to other people for help because there’s no one left to really go to, and you can’t fall back on who you are because you don’t know who you are. You’re stuck, hopelessly stuck in a life you hate and in a situation that destroys you.
This is where I’m at right now readers, and the thing is, I don’t have any answers. I know I need to be back on meds because therapy alone doesn’t seem to be enough, so that’s something, but the meds will take a month to kick in, and I need something that’s going to help right now. Should I quit school? Should I run away? These don’t seem like the right answers either. I don’t want to throw away my life when I know my grandpa would be here if he could, so killing myself is out of the question. But staying this way seems to be impossible. What do I do?
No one is left, readers, no one but my mom and Fred, and they are far away. Maybe I should move back home. Maybe I should be institutionalized. The only thing I can think to do is listen to my heart, to trust my heart. But my heart is just crying.
I look back at my life and see a person who tried to do the right thing. But sometimes it isn’t enough. Sometimes you try your whole life to be happy and you fail. But I’m not dead yet—this depression I’ve been struggling with since I was twelve might kill me one day, but today I’m alive. So I’ve got to keep trying.
I don’t have an identity, I don’t have any friends I can reach out to, I don’t have a partner, I don’t have a family I can talk to. But I’ve got my depression. I guess that is the only thing I will always have, forever and ever.
Posted on 02/22/2016, in This Whole "Life" Thing, Who The Hell Am I? & Other Stuff You Ask Yourself and tagged depression, identity, mental breakdowns, self-examination. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.