Dear Diary: Depression is a Constant Mental Dichotomy

The voices in my head are in a constant battle for dominance, and somehow the obnoxious one always seems to win.

I'm at a crossroads in my life. Many people find themselves facing one at forty, a milestone I'll be reaching this coming February.

At the crossroads, the signs say, "Something's Gotta Give St." and "My Family and I Deserve Better Ave."

Every major rough time in my life can be traced back to depression. Trouble holding down jobs, relationships gone awry, the postponed pursuit of dreams. This is not to make excuses for my faults, nor is it to say that everything's my fault. I'm ultimately responsible for the choices that I make; and relationships in particular are a two-way street.

But there's no longer any hiding from the fact that depression is a primary contributor every time. And that I have to overcome it somehow.

Dealing with depression is fighting a constant war in your own mind.

Depression is knowing you could benefit from therapy, and genuinely wanting to give it try--a fair try, not just going for two months, then quitting when it inevitably doesn't have an immediate profound effect--but still feeling like you would rather do literally anything else.

Depression is wanting to work, to contribute to society and--even more importantly--the wellbeing of your family, but dreading every shift so profoundly you get ready for work in tears and eventually quit because you can't take it anymore.

It is wanting to put your all in to the artistic career you know you're qualified for and loving the work it's going to take to be a success, but not being able to find it in you to do that work-that's-not-work half the time.

It is knowing exactly what you need and desperately want to accomplish in order to relieve the stress, be happier, become a better partner/relative/parent/friend, but being so overwhelmed by the prospect that your moto becomes "Tomorrow I'll..." and steps never get taken in that direction.

It is needing time and patience from your loved ones, but feeling it's an unfair thing to ask of them because they've already given you so much of it.

It is being angry with society because nobody seems to "get you,"--or even care to try-- but being able to understand exactly why that's so hard for many people.

It is being hurt that loved ones no longer trust you because you're constantly promising one thing and producing another--or nothing at all--yet not being able to trust yourself for the very same reason.

When you're not fighting this battle, it's either one extreme or the other. You're enjoying "peacetime," which is actually utter apathy, an entirely different kind of evil--you know, the sniper on the hill that you don't see until the damage is already done. Or it's all-out anarchist war, and you find yourself both overwhelmed by the run-of-the-mill to-do list you're looking at for the day and feeling guilty that you're not doing more.

Why can't I just get out of bed every day and go about my life, accomplishing things like a regular person?

Why can't I be more responsive to rational thought and normal motivators instead of a slave to the chemicals in my brain? Am I really that weak? Aren't humans supposed to be more evolved than that? Why aren't I?

Why do I have to feel like I have the goddamn flu one day out of every three? (Literally: severe body aches, overwhelming fatigue, the shakes, that weird sensation my mom used to call "creepy skin," shivers followed by hot flashes, everything except an actual fever.)

I'm thoroughly sick and tired of my life being dictated and wasted by this invisible Thing that hangs over me and seems to hijack every single decision I make and everything I do.

I've reached a point in my life where I'm finally ready to face this Thing and repair relationships that have been damn near destroyed because of it, two huge goals that I want to achieve more than anything--more than anything--but are going to take so much time, patience, trust and dedication that the very idea is crippling. Can I do one and the other? Can one even be done without the other? As I mentioned before, do I even deserve the time, patience and trust it's going to require of others to be done?

Well, for starters, I need to stop saying "I'm going to..." Not because I intend to stop making promises or setting goals or trying to be better. But because what I need to do instead is do it, whatever it is. I need to understand that people may not trust that it is going to happen for some time, maybe a long time. I've said "I'm going to..." so many times and failed to follow through that the only way I can prove I mean it is by doing it, and continuing to do it, over time. But I have to be willing to give myself that time, because it can't be done overnight.

It can only be done one day at a time, but the only way that can work is if I'm actually doing something every day.

One day at a time, one thing at a time. But it has to be something. Not the mere promise of something, and not some grand scheme to "get better" that not even one who doesn't overwhelm easily could ever hope to achieve.

Just... something. Every day.

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