Thursday, 24 January 2013

Hiding from strangers

My depression and my anxieties hide when I am out with strangers. In fact, me crashing with you around me is a token of trust and friendship, as weird as it sounds and as hard it makes your life.

I was reminded, again, of how much this is a part of my illness today. Y'see, I was lunching with my mother — who used to trigger a fair number of emotional crashes herself. I mentioned to her that I started with anti-depressants, and that they have been mostly working well for me.
“I didn't even know you were having problems again.”
That, apparently, is how far my independence has gone: my parents no longer cause my emotional crashes, they are among the people I hide my emotions from.
Instead, it is my wife who had to bear me crying inconsolably because I thought my dad might be annoyed at us coming late for the christmas party.

I wonder how wide-spread this is; the gradation of your affective problems by your context, the tendency to only ever be noticeably ill when among your very closest. It means that work takes a very small, if any, hit from my mood swings. But on the flip side, it means that my mood swings are utterly brutal on my closest and most intimate friends and family.
My wife has had to carry an incredible load through the years, and only through forming her own coping strategies have we been able to carry on even as I grow randomly sad, angry, irritated, afraid, and more often than not blame her because I cannot find anything else to blame for my mood.

As much of a hell as your depression is on you, it is hard on those who care about you.
Being unable to perceive their caring only makes a bad situation even worse.

I wish I could find a way to articulate these thoughts without fueling the guilt and anxiety some of you already feel. I do not think that I can. Try to remember that the ones you feel guilty about subjecting to your mood swings most likely care deeply about you and will help if they can only figure out how.


  1. I do that too. I don't want to appear weak or sad. I don't want the wrong kind of "advice". I don't want people to feel sorry for me. I don't want them walking on eggshells afraid of saying or doing something wrong, because that will surely piss me off. Only people who know me well enough to do the right thing to support me, or to yell back at me when I yell at them will see me sad or angry, if I can help it.

    Nearly six years ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I couldn't even speak a lot about that, because of the wrong reactions and sympathy I would incur. I didn't mind talking about it if someone asked, I just didn't volunteer any information. The only exception was others who had suffered from cancer, because they all knew how it was. It's a bit easier now that it's been a few years, but I still don't talk much about it.

    And about mood swings, one reason why I often hesitate to even talk to my husband when I'm really down, is that since I can't see a way up, why would I expect him to be able to help me any better? I'd just hand him an impossible task and become more depressed because he can't help me and I'm making him suffer too. At the time it makes perfect sense to me, just like the "facts" that I'm worthless, stupid and whatnot, and since it all makes perfect sense my situation feels completely hopeless. That's a neat way to dig a really deep pit for yourself. When I'm not down there I can see how I end up there, but I still don't know how to prevent it or how I manage to get out. Somehow I just do.

    I'm not an academic (apart from having a MSc degree) and I've never sought a diagnose so I don't know if I'm bipolar, occasionally depressed or just silly, but I'm glad you guys are talking about it!

  2. I don't know if this makes any sense, but sometimes I don't want to be helped e.g. by my wife.

    You brain gets into a weird state where you know you are right to be miserable/depressed/whatever, and you know your wife might be able to help you somehow, resulting in a non miserable state which must therefore be worse (because you are right to be miserable.) So the obvious answer is to avoid getting any help.

    Thanks very much for the comment Noora, it is really appreciated.

    I am glad we are talking about it too. I find it is helping me to have an outlet.


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