Recovery is a double-edged sword

There are certain things in life that are fixed:

  • The need for ambition and following your dreams
  • Love for your family and vice versa
  • Love for your friends and vice versa
  • Pet hates that you will never get over
  • Succumbing to vices you thought you’d gotten over

The latter is the most worrying. For years now, I’ve tried to battle depression. I take sertraline 50mg once daily, and for the most part, it helps. Sometimes I’ll miss a day, but that’s an accident. The thing they don’t tell you about sertraline is that it’s not a brilliant antidepressant, despite it being first-line. Antidepressants don’t just make you feel happy. Sertraline, in my case, is kind of like flatlining. I don’t have the peaks and troughs of feeling depressed or happy; instead, I settle for a very boring medium. That is, I don’t feel happy, and I don’t feel sad. I just feel somewhere “in between” — and that’s classed as an antidepressant, because, hey, at least I’m not depressed.

Some people aren’t very emotional, either. It’s seen as a strength if something upsetting happens and you can just get over it by focusing on something else. That’s incredible–and I envy the people who can do that.

I, on the other hand, fixate upon the negative. Maybe it’s who I am. Maybe it’s the depression. And you know what?

It’s really fucking annoying.

It isn’t just a matter of “oh, I’m miserable, but it’ll take me longer to get over it”. Let me describe to you how it feels. Let’s say, for example, someone ate the last apple. And I really loved apples. To add salt to the wound, let’s say it was a Pink Lady. Those apples are the shit.

Someone eats the last Pink Lady–the one I’d specifically hinted at wanting. Instead of doing what a normal person would do, and buy a new pack of Pink Ladies, I internally kick off. Here’s my thought process:

  • Why would someone take it? Have they got something against me?
  • Does someone here not want me to have the Pink Lady? WHY?
  • Did [Bob] take the last Pink Lady? Shit, what did I do to Bob? Oh God, he’s not still upset at me for [Y] is he? Is this his revenge?
  • Maybe I just don’t deserve the Pink Lady. Whoever has it probably deserves it more than I do.
  • I’m not good enough for the Pink Lady anyway. Whoever has it definitely deserves it more than I do.
  • I can’t complain about this, because nobody will understand.
  • If I complain, then I’ll be seen as a whiny bitch. So let’s just shut the fuck up.
  • I’m never gonna eat Pink Ladies again. Clearly, Pink Ladies have a thing against me, so I will avoid them. Forever.

This happens all the time, albeit not with Pink Ladies. It happens in conversations. Can you take a guess at how many times I second-guess myself as soon as a sentence slips my mouth? Hint: it’s in the double figures.

I could say something like: “I’m not sure your idea works, Michael.”

There is a brief 0.001 second of panic, before my mind goes into a flurry and I think:

  • Oh my God. I’ve offended Michael. I just offended his work. Shit. That wasn’t my intention.
  • Michael will probably hate me. He worked on that and I just criticised it. But that wasn’t my intention! I was just pointing out something that could be improved! Does he think I hate his work?
  • Oh God, does he think I hate HIM?
  • I just apologised. Oh, fuck, did it sound genuine? Does it sound like I’m making a mocking apology? That wasn’t my intention! I meant it legitimately!
  • [Insert sentence here] BUT THAT WASN’T WHAT I MEANT! I DIDN’T MEAN IT IN A HORRIBLE WAY! I just worded it wrong, but now you think I’m a fucking cunt, and no amount of apology will make up for that.
  • Shit, we used to be friends. Does this mean Michael doesn’t wanna be my friend anymore? That is not surprising. I don’t deserve him as a friend anyway. I’m a dick.
  • I’m gonna keep apologising. It’s the least I can do, even if Michael thinks I’m a twat.
  • Michael says that I have been [negative adjective]. This must be true. Everything Michael says, negatively, about me, must be true–because I’m a worthless piece of shit. Michael is right. I’m so in the wrong. Conversely, Michael has done NOTHING WRONG AT ALL and therefore he is not to blame for ANYTHING.
  • I’m just gonna stop talking to Michael and quit working with him, because Michael is right and I am wrong, and I am out of order. The sooner I realise this the better. Clearly, changing the status quo is a stupid move. If something works, keep it! Don’t bother trying to change shit up. Michael’s right.
  • I’m a talentless bitch. I should probably look elsewhere.
  • God, I’m useless. I alienate people. People DESPISE me. Michael despises me. If Michael despises me then so does everyone else.

And that, really, is the thought process of a depressed, severely anxious writer. I might be praised by thousands of other people, but sometimes you fixate on just one. And sometimes that one person >>> thousands of other people’s praises. It’s a funny thing, the brain.

It’s enough to give up a dream. Why write when you satisfy everyone but the person you actually want to please?

The lesson I guess is to never give up on your dream. Unless you’re me. Then give it the fuck up.

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