I started to comment on a response to a post by Corey, a woman who I admire more than it is even possible to describe, when I realized I had written enough length to have my own post about it.
So I’m writing my own post about it.
She is asking,
Is it possible that a child could so comfortable and complacent in their misery that they don’t want to leave that place? For a long time I thought, no way. No one could possibly want to be unhappy ALL.THE.TIME.
Her daughter told her recently that “she just wants to be someone else.”
She used this beautiful analogy:
It’s like she’s sitting in a prison cell and the key is right in the lock and there’s no guard and she’s just keeping herself in there anyway.
So here is my response to her.
I don’t know if this will be at all helpful, but I feel the need to say it and I hope you don’t throw things at me.
I kind of know how Vivi feels.
As you know, dysthymia going on here. I hate being down all the time. I hate it. I hate feeling sad. I hate hurting my husband. I hate feeling like I can’t take care of myself. I hate feeling like I have no control over my emotions much of the time. Sometimes I get so upset over having depression I depress myself.
And I know that I can get better. Learn to manage. Pull myself out of this pit. Make a life for myself. People do it. It’s possible.
But that TERRIFIES ME.
This is who I am. This is who I always have been. I have been the person who gets down and cannot get up. I am the person who is sad all.the.time. It is a huge part of my identity, to myself at least, that this is something I cope with. It is how I am strong, dealing with these feelings of worthlessness and sadness and nothing every. Single. Day.
I am in therapy now. And I am trying to learn to cope.
But here’s my dirty little secret.
I don’t really want to get better.
I want to want to get better. But I can’t.
This is ME. This is a huge part of ME. The dysthymia is part of my identity.
If you take it away, who am I? What is left? Am I even me anymore if this horrible depression isn’t around every corner, or have I lost myself? What will be left, when you take this ENORMOUS part of every single day of my life away?
What will be left won’t be the only me I have ever known. Am I so invaluable I shouldn’t even be allowed to exist anymore?
The dysthymia is a horrible, negative part of my life that I hate…but that doesn’t change that it’s a part of me. And I can’t let go of it.
Logically, do I know this is crap? Absolutely.
But in my gut, I am still not even to the point where I can want to get better. All-the-way better.
I don’t enjoy living like this. But it is all I know. It is who I am. And quite frankly, if someone said, “Step in this box and it will all go away and never return”…I don’t know that I would step in the box. Or, to put it in terms of your analogy, I am sitting in the jail cell, and if someone put the key in the lock and walked away…I couldn’t get up off the cot to open the door and walk into freedom.
I am choosing to be “unhappy ALL.THE.TIME,” because while I don’t like it, the alternative is even more terrifying. Better the horrible I know than the unknown.
How sick and wrong is that?
And I’m an adult. A very analytical adult who can think through and understand and express (very poorly) these feelings. But I still have them.
And my problems are way more minor than hers. Way less a part of my identity. I can’t even imagine how terrifying it would be to let go of such a huge part of who she has been her entire life. Because, quite frankly, I am so terrified at letting go of the part of me that I abhor that it leaves me curled up in a ball in the far corner, weeping like a baby, unable to face the possibility.
I have been known to say, especially in the depths of frustration over what the depression is doing to my life and that of the people I love, that “I just want to be someone else!” It’s obviously impossible. The most I can do is change who I am. But the truth of the matter is, if I lost the things that are frustrating me…I’m afraid I would be someone else. Someone I didn’t know. That I would lose me. I, the person, would cease to exist. And that is very scary stuff.
I’ve never expressed this to my hubby (before now). Because it’s hard living with me. And I can’t admit to him that while I want to want to change so I can stop hurting him…I don’t want to change. Because living with me can hurt him so much, and I’m ashamed I can’t even want to make the things hurting him go away.
I hope that makes a tiny bit of sense. I’ve never tried to vocalize these thoughts before, and I am not known for my eloquence or clarity.
I’m sorry there’s no insight here. I haven’t figured out how to battle my own, relatively minor demons.
Good luck to you helping her figure out how to conquer hers. I am sending all the strength and love I can for you in your journey.