Sadness (Bonus: Deeply Embarrassing Personal Revelations From My Past!)

April 21, 2008 at 3:32 pm 5 comments

I’ve been feeling sad a lot recently. This sounds blatantly obvious given that for the last sixteen months I’ve been writing a blog about being depressed. But honestly, although I feel miserable and exhausted and suicidal a lot of the time, I don’t often feel sad. Miserable isn’t the same as sad. Miserable involves hating the world and my life and the way the two fit together. Sadness just feels like I’m lost. I can get angry about misery while I just want sadness to stop.

When I was a teenager, I was fat and hated the way I looked. I lacked self-esteem and self-confidence and most other things beginning with “self-“, except of course for self-loathing. I spent a lot of time worrying that I would never even get to kiss a girl, let alone have sex with one. Because who could ever possibly be attracted to me? I don’t like admitting it, but this was the ostensible reason behind my suicide attempts. Sure, I was constantly sleep-deprived and lived in a state of permanent argument with my father, but the reason that I thought I wanted to kill myself was that I would be alone forever and nobody would ever love me.

This kind of screws you up when you’re 15.

The day that I first tried to kill myself – trying to cut open the artery in my left wrist with a blunt craft-knife – I went to the party of a girl I had a crush on. I tended to develop crushes towards any girl who paid me any attention whatsoever. There was a game of spin-the-bottle and, coupled with a reasonable amount of alcohol for posh kids who didn’t have much opportunity to drink, she and I ended up kissing.

[To be entirely truthful, something similar had happened a few months previously at a different party. So this was, in actual fact, my second kiss. This was fortunate. The first time arround, on the first attempt, the girl (someone’s drunk cousin, I think) had exclaimed “You’re supposed to use your tongue!”]

After I’d kissed the girl I had a crush on, some kind of pit opened up in my mind. Up until that point I’d been able to maintain some kind of ideal of hope. Even though I was hideously ugly and nobody would ever love me, I could imagine the possibility that somehow, somewhen in the future, girls would make sense and I’d stop being this terribly awkward and geeky teenager. But this hope was destroyed by the knowledge that I could reach the unimaginable point where I’d actually, really, honestly, in really real life, kiss a girl I really liked and yet still be the same hideous person. Nothing had changed, or, it seemed, ever would. This was the best it would ever be for me, and it was still unbearable. So, in an extremely half-assed way, I tried to kill myself.

I failed and nobody ever knew about it. Which must have taken quite a lot of effort for everyone, because there was a huge, raw wound where, in an effort to slit my wrist, I’d drunkenly scratched at it for four or five hours with a blunt craft knife. And it’s not like I made a point of hiding it. Not that I’m bitter (I save the bitterness for the fact that my parents knew about my next suicide attempt and just pretended that it never happened.)

But anyway, this is why, these days, I have difficulty telling whether my feelings of loneliness are real and valid, or just the way some fucked-up fifteen year old loser used to think. And it’s even harder not to interpret a desire for affection and closeness with another person as some pitiful kind of weakness.

Because although I don’t hate myself and think I can actually look pretty decent when I make an effort, I still worry about being alone and unloved forever. The thing I mentioned a couple of posts ago about there being months in which the only touch from another human being is a shop assistant handing me my change, that’s totally true. And it’s becoming more and more difficult to believe that life is going to ever be any other way. Which is either a symptom of depression, or a fairly accurate estimate of the future. Not that I’m likely to be able to tell which.

And it makes me terribly, desolately sad to think that this is my life, now and forever. Because this quite clearly isn’t worth living.

Back when I started this blog I was much more outwardly suicidal than I am these days. The reason I had then for not killing myself right away was that I couldn’t justify doing so until I’d made sure that getting medical help wouldn’t work. Not a hugely positive attitude, but the wait-and-see part of it works just as well these days. So yes, feeling so unbearably sad makes me want to kill myself to escape this awful present and wasteland of a future. But I’m not doing anything about it, not yet, because I have to make sure the therapy and drugs and sleep clinic don’t work.

Which isn’t a hugely positive attitude either, but it stops me hanging myself, so I guess that’s good enough for now.


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Memealicious 5×5 No Woman Ever Demanded More Emotionally of Me Than My Therapist

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rose  |  April 21, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    This online world is so weird. Closeness without closeness. Anonymous revelations.

    Lives can change dramatically, I’ve seen it so many times, but I wonder what the needed ingredient is for yours to change? You could stop waiting to see if anyone will touch you, and start touching other people. No doubt your city, like mine, is chockablock with people who feel similarly to what is presented in this post.

    But how will this happen when you can’t predict or normalize your sleep? That has to be screwing with you. People need good sleep.

    I have no answers. Who the hell am I? I’m sorry you’re unhappy.

  • 2. experimental chimp  |  April 21, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    Unfortunately, a year and a bit of staying in my flat has done nothing good for my social skills. They weren’t that great to begin with – the self-loathing awkward teenage thing kind of got in the way of learning this stuff.

    I remember having to teach myself about eye-contact after I started working. Then for a year or two at university, I had to teach myself about not staring at people just because you can do eye-contact now. I’m pretty much back to not being able to cope very well with everyday social interactions these days.

    Which doesn’t help, especially when combined with the sleep thing. Because I don’t get the opportunity to develop any of these social skills, nor any opportunity to meet people. I’m not a total recluse – I go out with the few friends I have every few weeks, and I speak to them more ofter than that.

    The sleep thing is the big lead weight sitting in the middle of all this…

    Anyway, thank you.

  • 3. Rose  |  April 22, 2008 at 4:36 am

    I hear you. We’ve locked ourselves in for more than two years. The social skills haven’t deteriorated, but our fear didn’t go away, either. It’s good that we have a safe place, but it also reinforces the unreasonable fear.

    Our genius plan? Out of the apartment for twenty minutes every day, minimum. We usually take a timer (those of us who follow through!), and spend the time aimlessly taking photos of things within a one-block radius, or sitting in the common room, reading a book and pretending to listen to music on headphones.

    The one thing we do know is that staying in, and safe, doesn’t fix anything. Just as you say: when you don’t have social interactions, you can’t develop the necessary skills for social interactions. The problem is finding small ways to take steps, because we (the Roses) aren’t brave enough for big ones.

    We’re not giving up yet. I’m glad you haven’t either.

  • 4. lessonsinunlovability  |  April 22, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    I still worry about being alone and unloved forever.

    Ditto. And the fact that i completely screwed up a relationship just adds to it. Not only does the idea of being alone forever make me sad… but it’s so fucking likely in my case. I have this habit of unintentionally ruining anything i get involved in… and i carry so much baggage with me that i just don’t know where the person is that exists to be able to handle it. Not even to handle it, just to be there and hold on to me til it passes you know? Because if they can get beyond all the dark stuff, there’s something that’s maybe even worth loving… just maybe.

    Anyway, i guess what i’m trying to say, is that you aren’t the only one who feels that way… and if you aren’t the only one, that means there are other people who don’t want to be alone forever, who want to be loved. And are worth being loved. You are worth it. So, although this sounds really lame, don’t despair.

    Loneliness is a valid feeling. I know what it feels like to be ashamed of it, to try to run away from it and to pretend it isn’t there. But it is okay and it is valid to feel lonely. I spend an awful lot of my time feeling lonely. Lonely or rejected actually. You are okay to feel that way, it isn’t weak. Weakness is hiding from our emotions and pretending they aren’t there. It’s actually pretty strong to be able to let yourself feel something (says someone who has spent most of their time trying to escape them). I don’t know how to work towards a solution… because i haven’t exactly been blessed with fantastic social skills. I have a bit of a social phobia and have been known to lock myself in the bathrooms at uni because there are so many people and i want to connect but i just dont know how and it makes me so anxious(!). I feel ridiculous too, hiding in the bathrooms. Heh. It is okay though, to be lonely. At some point this will probably change for you (because life loves throwing change into the mix 😉 ). I know that seems pretty hopeless right now maybe (well, i know if someone said it to me i wouldn’t find it easy to believe them) but you will find a way through this. Just give it time. Therapy can also help an awful lot if you find what works for you.

    Anyway, take care. I hope you don’t mind me reading along.


  • 5. experimental chimp  |  April 23, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    Rose: This was something else that got brought up with my therapist yesterday – we’re going to look at ways to work around my sleep problems and social anxiety (such as it is) to get used to being around people again. So things are actually going quite well in this respect now.

    lessonsinunlovability: I wouldn’t put this stuff online if I minded people reading it. It’s always nice to know who my readers are though. I think a lot of people with social anxieties have that feeling of ridiculousness where you know that what you’re doing isn’t exactly rational, but just because it seems silly doesn’t make it easier to stop doing it. I feel exactly like that when I do things like walking past shops I need to go in because they look too full, and worrying about turning around and going back to try again because people might notice that I’m wandering back and forth…

    A while back builders were putting another story of flats on top of the building I live in. At one point they had to connect up the electricity and water supply, so I can hear them outside my flat and I’m wondering what’s going on. But I can’t just go out and ask them, because that would draw attention to myself. I ended up going out to see what they were doing, then walking around outside for a while because returning too quickly would make it obvious that this was just a pretext to see what was going on. And the fact that I knew this reasoning was a whole sack-full of crazy didn’t mean that I could stop myself from doing it…

    Anyway, thanks for commenting.

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Hi, I'm James. I'm a 26 year old guy from England with bipolar disorder (currently well controlled). I also have a circadian rhythm sleep disorder (not so well controlled). This blog has charted my journey from mental illness, through diagnosis and, recently, into recovery. It's not always easy, but then, what is?


Self-righteous note about smoking

As of 12th September 2008 it has been forty five weeks since I quit smoking. So in another seven weeks it'll have been a whole year.

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