I technically have treatment-resistant depression, which means, as the name implies, that it doesn’t go away whatever I do to try to shift it. I feel like I’ve tried everything over the last fifteen years: medication, psychotherapy, CBT, occupational therapy/work, diet, vitamin supplements, meditation, exercise, light therapy (admittedly with a sunrise alarm clock rather than a light box), trying to get alternative/supplementary diagnoses (bipolar disorder, autism), creativity, prayer… apart from ECT, which my psychiatrist, when I was seeing her, wouldn’t allow me to have, I’m not sure what else I can do (I don’t believe in alternative medicine (despite my attempt at light therapy) or segulot). But, of course, strangers don’t know that and everyone has their method that “must” work, which is one reason I shy away from telling people about my depress
Not having a job or a spouse is depressing, but it’s hard to get either when you are depressed, which makes getting better very difficult. Likewise, although perhaps not to the same extent, with loneliness. I don’t think people like me can maintain friendships long-term or hold down jobs long-term, let alone date and marry. Only recovery would hold any hope for me, but I have long since given up hope of recovery.
I feel I have let everyone down again. I think I’m probably incapable of feeling love. I’m too selfish. Maybe people intuit that and stay away from me.
One of my non-biological sisters (friends who are like older sisters to me) read my post last night and said my only priority should be getting better. I guess it should be, but I don’t know how. I spent a few minutes proof-reading and posting a post I wrote a week or two ago, but never got around to posting, on my Doctor Who blog, about the narrow sub-genre of TV science fiction I enjoy so much. For a few minutes, I forgot how depressed I am. I need to find a way to get paid for doing this, even if it isn’t my main career. I don’t really know how to get started though and I fear my interests are too narrow and my lack of awareness of academic cultural studies jargon and theory would be a fatal handicap.
Every so often I seem to think of the story of Jeff in this article from Aish that I read years ago, although today I came across it again by chance. It upsets me. Apparently, God doesn’t answer my prayers because I’m not “sincere” enough. This is apparently shown by the fact that I don’t expect good things from him and don’t think myself worthy of good things. Sigh. I’ve been bullied and emotionally neglected from a young age. I’ve been depressed for fifteen or twenty years or more. I have learnt from this to have zero self-esteem and to think that I’m wicked and worthless. How am I supposed to expect things to get better when all the evidence shows that God hates me (as does almost everyone else) and only wants difficult things for me? It’s hurtful to say it’s all my own fault when I have faulty brain chemistry and a difficult mental health history.
How am I supposed to change what I believe? I believe in an omniscient, omnipotent, benevolent God, which is hard enough at times. Ignoring the question of whether I should in fact be rewarded for that belief rather than punished, the only way I can square this with my life-long experience and pain is to believe this is somehow what I deserve or at least need. So how do I believe that things will change when I have no evidence that I am less wicked, or that God has changed what He thinks about me, or that He wants me to do anything in this world other than suffer, for whatever reason? All the evidence of my life points that way. Whenever things seem to go better for a moment, like when I started my last job or was dating E. and I become thankful to God and hopeful that things will change, I seem to be punished and have everything taken away from me again. There’s a concept in Judaism that while we believe in miracles, we aren’t allowed to pray for them, only for natural salvation. If you lose your job, you can pray for a new one, but if you lose your legs, you can’t pray that you spontaneously grow a new pair, not because God can’t do it, but because the average person is not worthy of such a miracle. I think it’s clear by this stage that my depression is not going away by anything less than miraculous intervention. Unfortunately, the article is nearly twenty years old and the rabbi who wrote it has passed away, so I can’t ask him what I should do.
I have twice in the last twenty-four hours, without really intending it, found myself shouting at God to “F*** off,” at least in my head. I don’t even feel guilty, as I feel He’s been saying the same to me for thirty-five years. I feel agitated again. I suddenly had a burst of energy and went for a brisk walk and after ten minutes I ran out of energy and had to get home somehow. I thought about throwing myself under a car and I wasn’t sure if that was a serious suicidal thought, a symptom of the agitation or just more pure O OCD. It’s hard to tell when it’s so quick, like I can’t really tell if I really want to tell God to f*** off or if it’s just my depressed/agitated/who-knows-what thoughts.
This article from Aish was more helpful than the other one, although I’m not sure I know how to use the ideas. I can’t do things that make me happy, because nothing much makes me happy right now (anhedonia). I did mention writing above, but I feel whatever energy and brainpower I have for that should be going on job hunting and I’m not sure I really have the concentration and motivation to write right anything coherent now (this post is increasingly incoherent). I will try to accept that resilience takes time, although I don’t think I’ve grown more resilient over the many years that I have been depressed. And while I accept there are major lows, there don’t seem to be any countervailing highs. And the ‘new normal’ has been my normal for so long that it’s the good times that seem like the aberrations and I don’t know how to adjust to this.
I also came across an old Hevria post from last year that I had forgotten about. It’s about being an introvert in the frum (Orthodox Jewish) community. I had written a long self-hating comment there about not fitting in and generally being a useless person. Someone commented back but I didn’t receive the comment at the time because he replied to the comment below mine by mistake. S/he said that my introversion is part of my life mission. This may be true, but as I have no idea what my life mission is, except that it seems to involve an inordinate amount of psychological pain and that no one can help me find out what it is, this is not terribly helpful.
I revised my CV, although there was not a lot to add to it from the last few months. I really hate the personal interests section. I don’t know why employers ask for it. What they are basically asking is, “Please tell me that you have unusual and interesting hobbies, preferably ones that involve intelligence, extroversion and team work, but also imply that you rarely get a chance to pursue these hobbies because you’re so fanatically devoted to work. Do not under any circumstances imply that you enjoy solitary, introvert things like reading, watching TV, blogging, going for walks (hiking in groups is acceptable) or just sitting idly with your thoughts. Don’t even think about implying that you prefer your hobbies to your career and that in the ideal world, you would find a way of making your hobby into your job.” Apparently, rather than just listing stuff I’ve been paid to do, I also need to highlight “Key Achievements”. I have literally no idea what my key achievements are. Sometimes (like this week) just getting through the day without hurting myself is an achievement, but that’s not really something to put there.
Stuff online reminds me that most people are having a lot more sex than I am. Some people are even loved with it. Mind you, the monks in The Name of the Rose were having more sex than I am, and they were supposed to be celibate. I feel so lonely. And, for all a a few people have said I’m a good writer, I find it hard to believe, given that I’ve had such little interest in my writing. Nor does it seem better to me than the bulk of writing online and in the press, although to be fair it doesn’t seem much worse (and I use a lot less cliquey slang, although in these postmodern, anti-elitist times, that’s probably a criticism). But I’m never going to be a literary novelist or even a literary essayist. Even if my thoughts weren’t word soup.
Other stupid things I’ve done today: google my ex (not E., my first ex, from five years ago) even though I know she’s no longer religious and I would probably have very little in common with how her life has gone now, which makes me sad for reasons I can’t explain, and also because, as a bi-pride campaigner, she’s dealing with her sexuality issues in a rather more tangible way than I’ve ever managed to deal with mine. Also: think about suicide, google to see how lethal my antidepressants are, and start counting up how many I had “just out of curiosity.” Feeling very agitated and worried for myself again.
Trying to listen to calming classical music, but I don’t really know classical music, and what I do know is lively, so it was Pachelbel’s Canon again. Music to go mad to, I suppose. Dave Owen suggested years ago that one day the Doctor should regenerate because of insanity rather than physical injury. I’d like to see that. I suppose it would be considered unheroic nowadays.
So: agitation, can’t concentrate, racing thoughts, pacing, biting nails, wringing hands, hitting myself, thinking and reading about death and suicide… I should probably be on suicide watch, but I’m scared of telling my parents. I was planning on being home from tomorrow afternoon to some time on Monday anyway for various reasons, so I guess that’s good, I can see what happens without telling anyone.