Monthly Archives: January 2017

I can’t tell if I’m okay or not

Most days I’m so busy sorting through news topics, inside my coverage area and out, that my emotions feel inconvenient. Or they come up, seeming as if they’re trying to convince me of something that’s not true, or that I should do something that I know from logic that I should not. That leaves me confused as to what I actually want out of life. Emotions are a here-and-now phenomenon – they evolve within you over the course of a day. I’ve always felt them deeply, sometimes destructively.

I’ll probably think differently by the end of the day, but right now, I dislike my emotions. I dislike how in middle school and early high school, I used them as reasons to do things that caused others to not like me. I dislike how in most of high school, they convinced me there was nothing worth doing other than hiding in my room, not interacting with anyone because I felt like I didn’t belong. I dislike how in college, they convinced me to stay with someone I shouldn’t have, while at the same time giving me all the reasons not to. I dislike how unclear they are, so my logical brain can’t translate them accurately into action. I dislike how when my senses pick up on others’ emotions, particularly negative ones, my emotions absorb them, dragging me down with them. I dislike how they make me insecure of how to act around people, which makes me act more awkwardly. I dislike how my emotions are what they shouldn’t be, responding to a situation with unnecessary strength, feeling rejection when I’m not being rejected.

I could level some criticism at my logical mind too, for unhelpfully chastising my emotional mind. For working up anxiety. For thinking up all the “logical” reasons why I’m a loser. For putting together the puzzle of failures that others must be building up in their minds and will someday use as reasons to phase me out of their lives. For simply saying to me, “You’re doing it all wrong.”

This is where I’m supposed to come back with my usual positive platitude about something I’ve learned that makes all of this okay. But I’m not going to do that right now. It doesn’t feel right. I don’t even know what does feel right. While I was at home on Mercer Island for Christmas, I struggled with the sense that I’d changed a lot since the last time I’d been there. I’ve created this whole life for myself in Minnesota that continues to become more and more complex, that going home and re-living what I’ve grown out of felt the most strange that it ever has. It was a busy break, filled with family activities, and it slipped through my fingers. In my downtime, I unfortunately thought of the depression I dealt with as a teenager and never addressed for what it was. I either blamed my environment or myself for “doing it wrong”. I don’t suffer from depression as strongly as I did then, although it does flare up from time to time, as I believe it is now.

The tough thing about depression is that it doesn’t make sense. Why would your thoughts turn on you like that when life is good? I really have nothing to complain about. One of my interests is psychology. I find myself reading a lot of books about mental health and have more on my to-read list. It would have been my second major if I’d known I had this interest. Most recently I read Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, about using your first impressions to make better decisions. I also read The Highly Sensitive Person in Love by Elaine Aron, which helped me gain a better understanding of the inner workings of my personality. I also read psychology articles on the internet quite a bit.

The downside of this is that it tempts me to self-diagnose. I read something, recognize symptoms in myself, and think I must have XX disease. But that’s unhelpful. It makes my head spin. Self-awareness is good, but perhaps I should take it in the direction of knowing what is helpful. I didn’t start meeting with a therapist because I wanted a diagnosis; I simply wanted to find solutions. I love being able to talk about whatever is on my mind and have someone be a sounding board for me. I don’t have to try to work through everything myself.

And yet I still do it. I have this need to do everything on my own, to satisfy everyone. I know if I’m truly going to work through depression and anxiety, I have to care about myself. My progress should be self-motivated. Granted, my family and friends’ opinions matter to me. Being cared about is a motivating factor. But this motivation should be entirely internal. I know many people who have health or other kinds of crises make their children part of their motivation for getting better. I’m not ready for that yet, but I do understand that. Your children are a part of you and your wanting to be there for them is an internalized motivation.

I desire love from others, but I think I have done a poor job at seeing it. I have missed out on making friends because I didn’t want to be an inconvenience to people. Depression will do that to you. I don’t want to take advantage of people’s kindness to me because I don’t feel like I can repay it. I have gone to many people’s homes in Rochester to hang out, particularly Bill and Christina Tuckers’, but I haven’t had any events at my own place. I make the excuse that I just have a one-bedroom apartment, but it’s definitely big enough to host a gathering from time to time. Or maybe it’s that my condition has never been in a good place to do that. If I were to do that, I’d have to plan well ahead so I could clean adequately, and I’d probably still worry that it looked dirty. I’d worry that my guests would find my cooking unsophisticated, or they’d recognize that I’ve stretched myself a lot to impress them.

I worry that I talk about myself too much. I’ve been criticized for being self-centered in the past. I don’t want to be that way. But my mind is so full. I’m introspective and self-conscious. I listen to others when they talk, and I want to be someone people feel comfortable talking to. When someone makes themselves vulnerable to me, that opens up the kind of connection I desire. I worry that my constant blabbing about my minor issues is preventing that.

I think that’s enough documenting of worries for today. Maybe I do feel like ending with positivity after all. I don’t have any brilliant advice, other than to give all my worries to God, not to solve them all myself. My New Year’s Resolution is to reduce my self-judgment. I’ve written down what’s in my head, without telling myself why I’m wrong to feel it. I’m going to have tough days like this, where I just feel bad. More often than not, getting words on the page makes it better. Perhaps we can all work through what’s plaguing us by doing the same.