Somehow, time has gotten away from me.
It started innocently enough. I put off certain projects at work, because they could wait. I whiled away my time on the internet, drinking an inordinate amount of coffee, obsessively organizing and re-organizing my files and cleaning my desk. It can always be done later, I thought with increasing anxiety. Eventually the thought of doing the work became too much. Deadlines loomed. Then they passed. No one else seemed to notice, so I kept putting off my work for tomorrow, for next week, for next month, at least. Next month, I assured myself, I would be ready to finally face that task.
And here I find myself in October, trying to get a handle on July’s work. It’s all a little bit too much.
For the past ten or so years, I have struggled with suicidal ideation. It’s rarely been that serious – mainly passing thoughts that would make me crushingly depressed. It sounds bad, but at least there was usually little danger that I would take initiative and act out these dark fantasies. A couple times got fairly serious, usually preceded by a panic attack or, on two unhappy occasions, by medication disasters. The past five years have been relatively stable, however, with few episodes.
Unfortunately, the dark beast is back. I sometimes like to think of my depression as a dark beast, although it’s often hard to distinguish my core, central being from depression in that way. Looking on my mental health objectively, I can usually pinpoint where the dark beast lies, where he breeds, where he mangles things. But from within, it’s difficult to think of my depression as something separate from myself. It’s not a question of having depression, but rather of being depressed.
The timing is more than a little inconvenient. I’ve started a new job. I’ve just bought a house that I plan on renovating. I’m at the tail end of my twenties, typically a time when one is expected to do something with one’s life.
Resources on dealing with mental health problems are surprisingly scarce, despite all the lip service being given to mental health issues lately. My doctor recommended that I see a psychologist. There is exactly one psychologist in the region where I live – a region that serves at least 200,000 people. This psychologist charges $150 an hour. I’m balking at the price, and I know that even if I do decide to go see this apparently miraculous psychologist, I will mostly be focussed on how every minute is costing me $2.50, instead of focussing on delving into the deepest recesses of my diseased brain in order to solve this problem (is that what one does with a psychologist?).
Instead, I’ve discovered a new therapy that is $150/hour cheaper and at least effective enough to keep me from lashing out at my coworkers and running naked down the streets: self-affirmation blogs. Apparently I can be anyone I want to be, if only I believe it! The world is my oyster! I should just do what I love and never look back! The time I’ve wasted poring over self-help blogs, greedily staring at the screen as if it were a lifeline, is actually a little disgusting. Of course, if I hadn’t been spending all that time reading about how I am a special, unique and beautiful flower, I would probably have spent it hating myself into a grief coma.
But all of the self-affirmation in the world hasn’t enabled me to kick hating myself.
There, I said it. I hate myself. I’m not really sure why. At times, I think that I am a rather pleasant fellow, fairly easy to get along with. I don’t steal or cheat (at least, not very much). I’ve never murdered anyone, I don’t make a habit of breaking very many of the ten commandments (although I might have a problem with a few of the seven deadly sins). I like to have deep discussions with people, and learn about them and listen to them. But these qualities don’t seem to matter very much lately. I find myself intolerable, and I’m not quite sure why.
Sure, everything could be easily attributed to my diagnosis of depression. Self-hate seems a fairly classic symptom. But even if it is only a symptom of my depressive brain, I have to think that the self-hate has come from somewhere. It is so very specific, a hate so very intense, that it doesn’t seem like it could have popped out of nowhere.
(And, let’s be honest, no one likes the narrative that ends in “it was all in his head! None if it was real! It was all a dream! etc.” I’m looking at you, Lost and other disappointing TV shows, books and movies. It’s cheap and lazy writing.)
The thing is, my brain can’t seem to give me any breaks. Men are supposed to think about sex a ridiculous number of times a day, according to someone, probably Freud (or Kinsey?). My brain has decided also to focus on the reasons why I hate myself a similar number of times a day. Driving to work, thinking about the coming day, watching the fields of corn and wheat and beans fly past, and all of a sudden – no one will ever love you, because you are disgusting. Thanks, brain. Trying to get my expense report finished, checking my receipts and pulling my hair – you are an awful human being, and you should just die. Well, then. That kind of makes the whole filling-out-the-expense-reports thing unnecessary.
It doesn’t take a psychologist to see that such thoughts can put an unnecessary burden on one’s day. You don’t usually go through everyday life worrying about the human condition, thinking about the inevitability of death, and knowing that nothing really matters. Because, well, why would we do anything? Why would we bother filling out our forms, doing our work, talking to fellow human beings? Why on earth would I show initiative at work if all I could think about was the banality of my existence?
So the problem, then, is that the intense hate has started to bleed into other aspects of my life. Sure, self-hating is one thing. But now it’s getting difficult not to hate everything else around me. The stapler, for instance, really bothered me today for some reason. Stupid stapler, just sitting there, not doing anything useful. I was seized with a desire to throw it across the copy room. Other days it has been my cat, whining at the top of the stairs. Others it has been the cars speeding along the road outside my window. And still others, it has been the people around me.
The woman who shares my cubicle is my parents’ age, and likes to speak about nothing. She is perhaps the least interesting person in this city. She does nothing with her evenings and weekends except for cleaning – and she tells me all about it. I have heard – in depth – the specific way in which she vacuums her carpets. Last weekend, she cleaned her bathroom. I learned that Lysol is her favourite cleaner. She wipes the tub in a circular motion, because it cleans better that way. She did the shower, the sink, the toilet – and, oh no, she certainly did not forget the floors! This is just one room. I heard about the specifics of what she cleaned in every room in her whole goddamned house. My head might literally – literally – explode.
And so mild annoyance has mushroomed into hatred, a hatred that gets so intense some days that my hands start shaking.
The dark beast is cunning. I’m engaging all my energies to fight it.