Well, yesterday I felt like this:
Title: CTRL Z and delete
If only life could really work like this. If only we could take back stuff we said, the idiocies I decided to share with the world. I can take back some, I can remove all these posts, I can now even delete messages from Telegram, for everyone in the chat, like they never happened.
I have the arrogance and thoughts of a CEO or president of a small state, and the capacity of the smallest employee, the one that gets the minimum stuff done, you know? Because she just can’t cope with anything slightly more complicated.
Many people like me, simple, who have achieved very little in life, done very little, really, apart from thrashing about spouting idiocies. Not so many those like me who have the arrogance to believe they did anything more than that.
I don’t know anything about anything, I built nothing, made nothing, my greatest merit as a mother is that my children survived me, and as a human being that I am still around, though that might just be cowardice.
I am not depressed just.. aware.
How many have felt like this before, and will feel like this again.
How many will have felt similarly, for longer, sometimes way too long a period.
It takes nothing to let go, to sink into this pit and to sink deeper and deeper until there is only way out.
I was disappointed with myself as it had been a while since I’d felt it so tangibly. I’d been doing so well, for so long.
A friend of a friend, an old acquaintance of mine, recently lost his wife to suicide. I hadn’t realised at first, but after a friend pointed it out, he detailed his and his family’s sorrow and the funeral news and everything publicly on Facebook.
My friend was disconcerted by this choice. She worried about the voyeurism element, quite understandably. I secretly worried about the triggering factor. I always believed that we shouldn’t be careful about what we write about in order not to trigger someone, because if we are triggered by something, it is up to US to fight it, and not up to the world to be careful with their need to communicate. On the whole, I was grateful that he did it, and felt it would help him, clearly, but also it would remind people that the people we see and follow on Facebook are real, real things happen to them, inconceivable grief is round the corner or under the surface for us all.
I should have known that something would happen to me as a result of reading through his posts, and seeing the pictures of his wife.
It was sneaky. It began with what should have set off the alarm, a feeling I know many people feel when they read about a suicide: a sneaky, pervasive, shameful feeling of envy.
When that is the feeling you get when a tragedy such as this one occurs, that is your alarm bell, that is when you should get up an do something, talk to people, open up.
I didn’t, this time. I mentioned to my husband what had happened and how terrible it was, just a statement, nothing more. Secretly perhaps I hoped he would say:
“I know you’ve felt like doing the same in the past” or “It is not absurd to think of how she got there for you, was it?” or “What was she like?” and reading about her, he’d see how I could identify with her, how easily I could see similarities in character, and in spirit.
But he didn’t, my husband is not one for subtleties of this sort. That’s ok. I love him for that too.
So when the sneaky possession took hold of me, that black liquid oil sticky shadow, there was nobody there to distract me.
It didn’t last long.
Of course there is no knowing when IT really started to work on me. On New Year’s Eve, when I first heard the news? When Corbyn made a mess of his speech and I realised all hope was lost for us Europeans living in the UK? Yesterday, after Theresa May’s extra speech?
I think it began when I read she had studied Human Rights after studying Journalism.
In the past few weeks, I’d been toying with the idea of getting a Master’s Degree, here or when we moved back to Italy, in Human Rights, or as a Refugee Mediator. Just so that I could have more authority when speaking about these issues, that are so important to me, and actually DO something.
I guess that was the connection, and her lack of an open-mouthed smile, her beauty. I don’t know. It’s their immense tragedy, it had nothing to do with me, and yet, there it was: it opened the door to the sneaky sticky black oily shadow.
So how did I stop it? Because the purpose of all this is to try and be helpful towards those who feel like this, and worse, so much worse, for longer.
It was hard at first. As all who feel like this know, all “good thoughts”, productive thoughts, are lucidly and solidly dismantled by the Authoritative Black Shadow’s Response.
I chose to try and think as little as possible. Candy Crush, Anna Karenina, Discovery of Witches, a bath, more reading in the bath of course, no dinner. I avoided my daughter, nephew and husband as I didn’t want to snap at them. Then I told my husband a little on Telegram and he responded, in his usual undiplomatic manner, but his love was sincere and real.
One of the elements that had contributed to the Sneaky Dictator’s appearance was that I felt my husband was not taking the possibility of me doing a master’s degree in human rights seriously. I had tried the i-ching and they were favourable to it, but I took my husband’s caution the wrong way (everything can be taken and used the wrong way when you are in that state) and it sparked off my feeling of inadequacy, of never having achieved anything, of I am such a failure and so on.
I tried the i-ching again once I was in full sinking mode. I asked: “What of me?”. The result was astounding, the result described the person I feel like when I feel happy and strong, but more importantly it used the exact reverse of the words I was calling myself in my sinking state: where I called myself arrogant, it called me humble. Where I called myself a fraud, it called me real. My husband walked towards me so I closed the pages without saving it and without reading it further. But I was left with half hope and half a sneer: yeah right that’s just bullshit I am SO not humble!! That is my aim but I am NOT humble, in my arrogance I have lost friends, I have alienated my dearest people!
After I went to bed and after I made the right decision to open up ever so slightly to my husband, albeit only through Telegram, words started to get through: his words of love and how much I was worth, and the i-ching’s words, and the reiki precepts I had been reciting to myself a couple of days before in order to try and snap out of one of the downward steps:
For Today Only:
Do not Anger
Do not worry
Be Honest in your Work
Be Compassionate to Yourself and Others
I kept thinking I am NOT humble, I am NOT humble, I should have been, I never was… and then a voice got through to me, and said:
If you were not humble, you’d not see your arrogance.
Maybe that voice was mine, to me in the past it could have been the voice of “god”, the Jesus I used to speak to, the voice of my beloved dead friends, who for so long I felt helped me and spoke to me, it didn’t matter where the voice came from. That was the moment it all stopped sinking and slowly I began resurfacing.
My daughter got into bed with me, all excited about her Harry Potter chapter. I realised I was really hungry, not having eaten much all day. I became aware that my husband was talking to an old friend of his, and my husband does not deserve to be unhappy because of me. But that phrase, an outside voice, was the moment it all started to come back into the light, slowly but surely.
As often happens, I look back at how I felt last night in the pit and wonder how on earth I could feel that way.
Depression, bleakness, call it what you will, it is a monstrous creature that takes over completely and is quite difficult to fight against.
What I have learnt in all this time fighting it, is that the open fight never works. IT is clever, smart, IT has all the answers. There is no point in arguing against it.
Depressed people are no fun to be near. They are frustrating and nerve-racking. But if you have one near you, just be around. Don’t try to fix her or him, don’t try to shake them back into awareness. Just bits here and there, be around, be available, but leave them to it, because anything you say could become just more material to build that wall. Water seeps through a wall, it is more powerful than rocks thrown against it. So my advice to those with someone who is depressed is: don’t abandon them, but don’t try and fight it, it’s their fight, not yours. You can just leave little helpful mementos here and there, but you can’t give them the strength to use it.
When my friend R. saved me that time, from my own plans of disappearance after a long, long stay in my pit, it wasn’t her physical forcing me to travel with her by booking me on the flight with her and forcing her presence on my planned solo one-way trip to Spain: it was her saying so what if you cry all the time, cry! I’ll do my thing you do yours, and if all you want to do is cry and mope, that’s fine by me! But we do it together.
As for those who are the depressed, don’t seek the magic words, don’t seek the magic help from those who love you. Don’t fight your depression: get distracted, do stuff, even if you don’t want to, even if it’s just many, many small things here and there. Don’t try to explain it all to your loved ones, just say a few words, just a few, just say: I am feeling sad, low, not very happy with myself. Don’t apologise, don’t look for solutions. Just try if you can to keep your options open: the right something might just slip through, and all it takes sometimes is for one good thought to get through, and the rest can follow.
This is just my two cents, I am certainly not a trained psychiatrist or counsellor, nor am I anything, really. Just someone who has been there.