I was out walking the dog this morning pondering on the feeling of depression and sadness that has descended slowly over the last week or so. It is not the usual more general malaise but one based on how people are being affected by me. I can see a path ahead of me, it leads to isolation and eventually suicide but I don’t want to follow it however tempting it may be. Ironically it is knowing that people are affected by me that has stopped any acting out of suicidal thoughts in the past and there are still people out there that I care enough about to not take the suicide thoughts further. The trigger for this type of depression (I have no idea if there are official types) has been generated from my interaction with others I think.
I sense there are two extremes in me, in essence there is the outside me that hides behind a mask and learned social interactions and there is the inner me that has the autistic traits like being overwhelmed by sensations, an inability to understand a lot of emotions, of seeing things from others point of view and an unfortunate interpretation that everybody is making demands on me. Since coming to terms with depression I have tried to accept the inner me, respect rather than berate myself and allow the inner monster access to the normal world.
Letting the, what I consider the authentic inner me, out though has a cost and it seems to be this cost that is hitting me at the moment. From the outside I am told I am rude and aggressive, uncaring and heartless, difficult to approach and abrupt, unreliable and uncommunicative; I am not thinking through the impact I have on others by my behaviour. It has been commented on that I don’t seem to be with others fully when I am meeting them, they can see I am trying but it is like my mind is elsewhere. For myself I know that I am finding it hard to conentrate on others conversation and be interested in it. I think my thoughts go elsewhere, tracking off in differing directions but maybe I have given up trying to understand; I need to monitor it further.
When my wife and I disagree on something it is apparently not the substance of the matter that is the problem but how I react to it. I say apparently because whilst I can see how things go wrong after the event, during the argument is another thing and since we keep repeating the behaviour, I would appear not really to understand the issue.
When other people are upset, I think I block off access to what emotions I have. I think I do this to prevent myself from being overwhelmed because being overwhelmed lets my monster protector out and that is frightening. I think I am trying to look after myself.
Unfortunately shutting down emotions only leaves logic left to sort things out and it doesn’t help when somebody is having a meltdown because logic looks at the situation and says, what’s the problem? However, the need is to accept the emotion and acknowledge it whereas I zoom in on the logical problem and am bewildered when my responses are inappropriate and offensive. At the time I understand I am not saying the correct words to calm the situation but if I ask how I should respond it is as though I am being told to say something that isn’t true, something that is a lie at that moment. Away from the situation I can understand the upset and I can truthfully say that I care more easily but I have to come to that conclusion myself, I have to be able to think myself through to that point, and in the heat of the moment I don’t seem to be able to.
I don’t understand why someone didn’t text me to ask for help. It is true I didn’t think things through when I went out and didn’t say anything about what to do if the situation went wrong, but then I was sure everything was okay because in my mind the problem was of a different kind and that was working. The people involved worked around the issue and life went on but it wasn’t the physical problem that is the real issue, it was that fact that I didn’t react appropriately to the possibility of the problem. I didn’t take my responsibilities to support and look after my colleagues properly. I am brusque and people are afraid to approach me and it is my responsibility to fix it.
Can the situation be fixed? I know my inner self can be very focussed and therefore be dismissive of things that I deem unimportant or what I cannot do anything about. I try to give people the time they need to explain something, but obviously my impatience leaks out. I guess I am also not the best at communicating the progress of something, and often if I cannot solve an issue straightaway, it can be forgotten about and I need reminding but I fail to remind myself and so people have to nag me.
The only way I can see forward is to be honest about myself and my failings to cope to the people involved but that will not change how I am inside. It seems as though I am having to explain that I can’t really help being brusque, rude and insensitive, that situations will happen in the future and that is in a nutshell is not who I want to be. It is not the image I want the world to have of me. It would also seem that the inner me is not a person people want to have around either. I don’t want to hurt anyone but I do. I feel like I should avoid contact with other people perhaps just work alone at home, but there is no such thing as compete isolation from others as far as I can see, only death brings that.
I am nearly at the end of my dog walk. I see another person with three dogs walking towards me and I contemplate about switching to the other pavement to avoid them. It is only when the dogs are nearly sniffing each other that I register that the dog walker was once the child minder for my kids. I smile and I say hello and it is as if another person takes over my body. “How are you?”, she asks. “[Hesitate] I am okay” [I feel like crying inside] and we chat about the dogs. The outer person I am is completely different from the one inside, polished, chatty, relaxed and smiley, the one with the mask that avoids talking about himself. The world is used to seeing the mask, they like the masked version of me. I like the masked version of me too, unfortunately it isn’t authentic.
I think I need to like the inner version of me, perhaps if I can convince myself of its/my worth then that will be a start for others accepting it too.