In the last couple weeks I've done a lot of personal introspection and have been able to put to words my greatest perceived weakness.
When I was younger, in spite of all the shit I took, I was a very happy person. Being a child and then a young adult I was able to do things typical of that age to work out my aggression, and I often did. If someone wronged me, I dealt with it decisively and quickly. Sometimes I even went too far and I didn't stop until I thought justice, my justice, was served. I fucked over some people that truly deserved it and a few people who I then considered only to be collateral damage.
I would have to say that my first real depression started shortly after I became a Christian. I took my faith to the limit and as my friend Amber puts it, I did everything I could do to score points for the afterlife. One of the things I did was go to all the people I hurt and apologize to them face to face. On one instance I got my ass kicked before my apology was accepted. I deserved it. From that point on I adopted a "do no harm" type philosophy. No matter how much someone hurt me, I would not hurt back. Unfortunately, I took that philosophy to such an extreme that I would rarely admonish anyone for anything. Rather than risk hurting the person hurting me, I just pushed it inward and down. Over the years it came to the point that I would rather die than intentionally hurt someone else. After that, when I couldn't take it anymore, I actually did want to die. I wasn't looking to be a martyr and I wasn't thinking "they'll be sorry", it was just that death seemed to be the only way to stop the hurt without finally exploding and saying all the things Ive held in for so long, which of course would then hurt all the people I didn't want to hurt. You get the idea.
Many think that depression is nothing but self-pity. Bullshit. Long term depression is a self-perpetuating medical condition that causes the brain to be unable to resolve seemingly simple problems. The self-perpetuating part comes into play because you then become even more depressed by the fact that the depression keeps you from resolving problems. Ultimately you see the only way to stop it is to simply die. Depressed people are not crazy, they have a medical condition that needs medical intervention. Later on, therapy may also help teach the person how to resolve problems before they build up, but until the medical aspect of the depression is fixed, all the psycho-babble in the world will not do a damn bit of good.
At about 32, I had a total breakdown and my mother got me to a doctor and I got help. I got my life back in order and was depression free. Still, at the time of this I wasn't really aware that my "do no harm" mentality was the cause of my problems. It wasn't something I thought of, it was just something I did. It was now my nature so I did nothing to try to "fix" that aspect of my behavior.
My 2nd bout of depression started about 2/3 the way into my relationship with Laura. As our relationship became more emotionally and sexually involved, neither one of us was prepared for the fallout. Laura has been through more shit than any woman I have ever met. She is also the most courageous woman I have ever met. My depression started to come on as she started to question the validity of everything about us. With her past, I can understand why she would, but it made me feel rejected and angry. We could have talked about but I knew the things I would have to say would hurt her so I said nothing. She was hurt by the silence and pushed harder and I in turn kept it all in and hurt more. Hurt, hurt, hurt, hurt, hurt, hurt, hurt. It's a vicious circle. Once again, I finally imploded and we ended our relationship. It was the only way to not hurt her anymore and to stop my hurting. A few days after I did it I felt so much better. I did go back on Zoloft for a few months to be sure, but I stopped and was fine.
Close to three years ago I met a woman who quickly became my best friend. When we were actively doing things we always had a great time and I enjoyed being in her presence. She was affectionate and made me feel good. At random times she could become instantly moody but since we lived in different cities, we could be apart and vent and by the time we saw each other a couple weeks later all was good again.
When she moved closer, things changed. It was a sudden change in lifestyle plus she was no longer taking Zoloft and her other meds made her more agressive. She became constantly irritable and complained about everyone and everything. Nobody could do anything right and she pointed out every mistake. Almost every time we talked it was about how stupid her dad, brother, mom, all the doctors and psychologists, bosses, co-workers and customers were. Sure we still had a lot good times, but more and more often the complaints turned to something about me. If we were driving somewhere and I missed something or could not see something she thought was obvious she would say things that really didn't need to be said. Going out for a meal was almost always an emotional disaster. Nothing was good enough. On some occasions I would just drive and drive until she could make a decision and we ended up just going home because she couldn't. It came to the point that I still loved her very much but I didn't like her much anymore.
Once again, I did the same thing and rather than speak out, I internalized all of it and became depressed. Whenever it happened, in my head I was screaming at her to just quit all the constant nagging and complaining and just get over it or actually do something about it -or- just make a decision already, but all I allowed to be seen by her or anyone else was a quiet sulking man. I know she didn't understand and she probably wanted to scream too. My depression just made her more angry and her words and anger just made me more depressed. All we did was hurt each other and make each other miserable. Another vicious circle.
I tried taking Lexipro thinking it would help but it didn't do anything. Medication only works with clinical depression, not situational depression.
I think both of us wanted out of this but she was afraid to abandon me because she was concerned that I would hurt myself and I was afraid to abandon her because I've actually seen the results of many times when she did physically hurt herself and the one time where I walked in while she was indeed hurting herself. I was sure that someday she would go to far and end up dieing. She was sure that I would too.
Maybe if I made it a point to tell her when she was being bitchy or making bad decisions then things would be okay and we would still be friends. She once asked me if she had ever hurt me (because her dad told her that she was mean) and I tried the "you're just more assertive now" approach but I should have been honest. Finally I did say what I felt, after the fact, but it was too late. She's gone.
I am going to miss the fun person I used to know but the moment I said what I wanted to say, it was like this 100-ton weight was taken off my shoulders. I feel pretty damn good again and now I actually have plans to go do some really fun things with other friends and I'm going on vacation with a friend in February and it promises to be good too.
None of this is to say that she or Laura were the cause of my depressions, because only I could allow that, but they were the catalyst. My emotional pacificity combined with their forceful emotions were a bad combination.
To one person who may read this some day, please do not take any of it to be accusatory, it's just a glimpse into what was happening in my mind before I wrote it.
Anyway, a couple days ago I made a vow to never again internalize negativity. If someone either intentionally or unintentionally does something to hurt me or piss me off, I'm going to speak up right there and then. I did so just today and the results were positive. I think to do anything less does both sides an injustice. Wish me luck!