Falling Down the Rabbit Hole

I’ve been having a hard time recently, trying to deal with my depression and the internal struggles it brings. I had built up a resistance to the antidepressant (Efexor) I had been taking and was slipping back into my low moods. One thing about me is, I HATE feeling like I’m imposing on others. So I kept everything inside and put on a happy act. I have been subsisting – going through the motions of life, pretending I was ok, putting everyone else’s happiness and comfort before my own. I had no out – my financial situation dictated that I could not just up and leave. My attempts to gain a promotion were shot down by the Who you know, not what you know popularity contest. I don’t have family nearby to help me out. The only friend I’m really close to lives over three hours away. I couldn’t kill myself because my pets rely on me to live and would have nowhere to go.

I was literally stuck.

Having to act OK and with my medication and counselling having very little effect, I was coming home from work exhausted, depressed and feeling done with the world. Some nights, the pressure of all of this weighed so heavily that, in order to be able to sleep, I would turn to cutting myself or repeatedly punching a brick wall to relieve the pressure. If I tried talking to my friend, I’d often be deflected back to “look at your list of happy things” or told that she couldn’t help. I even had to drag myself out and put on my act for her, at one stage. She was having a shit time and was not coping well, and I was trying my hardest to be there and support her through it. I would do ANYTHING for her, but received very little in return. And I felt selfish for even having that thought. I felt worthless, unloved and selfish for wanting someone to turn to and I was further retreating behind my act.

Dropping this act for my psychologist, and with consultation from my psychiatrist, I began the process of weaning off the Efexor to go onto another medication. Anyone who has ever had to come off this drug will know, it’s not fun (and that’s an understatement). Part of the withdrawals involved feeling almost the sickest I’ve ever felt in my life (the sickest I’ve been was when I had an E-coli infection in my kidney, as a result of a cyst I had drained). I was depressed, felt like I was dying, vomiting, hallucinating, angry and lonely. I had nobody to help me through. So I was having a lot of correspondence with my psychologist, keeping her updated on how I was going and asking advice.

About halfway into my withdrawal period, this dark thought got it’s claws into my brain. I’ve not been able to dislodge it since. I started to get the feeling that my psychologist, my best friend and others were thinking that I am too needy and trying to get rid of me. Even though I try so hard not to be reliant on others, to not push myself or my feelings onto others, to not be needy or annoying, to not be selfish, to not feel as though others would interpret my actions as attention seeking. Like I said, I’ve not been able to shake this feeling, no matter how hard I try to rationalise.

Since it’s been quiet at work, I decided to do a Google search on what others’ experiences were in this area. The top result was an article titled You’re Not Depressed, You’re Just Selfish. And I knew it was counterproductive to the maintenance of my mental health, but I read it.

Maybe I am selfish. I crave somebody to connect with, to be able to vent to, to know when I’m not ok and who will help me. I want to be in a better situation financially, so I have the power to get out. A lot of I statements. I fear being labelled selfish or attention seeking. I do EVERYTHING I can to not project my feelings onto others. I try so hard to fit in and to not let my moods affect other people and how they function around me, but I still always end up on the outside, looking in. Is it selfish to choose to hide who I am and what I’m feeling in order to keep others happy? So I might have a chance at fitting in? Everything is so contradictory. If I’m actually showing what I’m feeling, I’m perceived as an attention seeker and off-putting. If I hide behind a smile, go out of my way to be helpful and try to involve myself, I’m perceived as an attention seeker and off-putting.

SO WHAT IS THE FUCKING POINT?


Monster in my Head

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I lived in Adelaide between mid year 2 through to mid year 5 (so, approximately 7 to 10 years old).
I don’t really know what was wrong, but I’m guessing my mum had some issues. She would never drive anywhere, stayed at home unless dad coaxed her out and had me and my younger sister in a home daycare thing after school every day. We’d go to someone’s house and play with the lego and watch television until dad got home from work and picked us up. We also went to this holiday care program, which i hated immensely.

The after school care program consisted of the main caretaker, D, her husband, M, and their two teenage sons, B and A. D, M and B were always lovely and I liked them. But A was a creepy 17ish year old. During our after school visits, he would stay down the hall, in his room, which suited me fine. Occasionally, they’d all come and visit us at my home, or I’d be sent with them on an excursion or something. Those were the times I dreaded.

A was a… well, he was the sort of person your parents were supposed to warn you about – nobody is allowed to touch you but you, thing…. But the assumed trust was there..

Over the course of a few years, he repeatedly used his trusted position to do things to me that I really don’t like to remember. Most of the time, it was just touching, which made me feel ashamed and naughty enough. While he had his fingers inside of me, he would often tell me to give him a kiss, which added to my disdain. He smelled of a particular gross musk and used to put his tongue in my mouth. But one day, that all escalated. He caught me in my bedroom by myself and he said he wanted to read me a book. I loved books, so I sat next to him. But he picked me up and put me on his lap. You can guess where it went from there… He raped me. I still don’t like to talk details, because it makes me feel dirty. When it was over, I felt like I’d done the worst thing in the world and that if I told anyone, I’d be in the biggest trouble ever. So I never did tell anyone. All because I didn’t know any better and felt like it was somehow my fault.

Soon after that incident – which could’ve been quite a few months, I can’t really remember time lines well – my dad was posted interstate. I was able to keep my “secret” and bury it. The trouble is, there are things – words, actions, sounds, mannerisms and smells – which trigger memories and feelings within me and it has been increasingly difficult to keep those things in check recently. Working in the same office as a man who has similar mannerisms and the same musky smell has made it near impossible to avoid. Which means more psych sessions for me and facing something I would love to just forget forever. I still can’t speak any of these things aloud. It’s like there is a physical force keeping the words from exiting my mouth. Nearly 20 years later, A still holds that power over me, but I am determined to take that power back into my own hands. This is one of my first steps – acknowledgement.


Laughter, Hugs and Losing My Mind

I read somewhere that people who laugh a lot, especially at the small things, are generally sadder and lonelier than people who don’t laugh as easily. I don’t know if this is research based, but it is definitely true in my case. It’s almost as though I try to disguise my sadness with laughter and end up overcompensating.

A co-worker once told me that I was the happiest person she knows, because I am always laughing. And yes, I laughed at that, even though I was in agony on the inside, wanting to tell her that I really was not happy. But, if I didn’t laugh, I probably would’ve cried and not stopped.

Often, I find myself feeling so overwhelmed, all I want is for somebody to hug me, without me having to ask. But people see me laughing and assume I’m happy and don’t need a hug. Or, they think that I’m not the type of person who likes hugs. It’s true, I don’t actively seek hugs. This is because I don’t feel that people really want to hug me. It’s very lonely.

So, to combat that feeling, I laugh. I laugh at things that are so stupid, I sometimes wonder if I might be losing my mind.


Love and Disappointment

Having only been open about my sexuality for a year, I’ve yet to experience my first relationship with another woman. I’ve had to let go of women I’ve loved before, knowing that they weren’t interested in me at all. Loving a person so much and knowing a relationship with them is impossible is one of the most soul destroying feelings in the world. Letting go and trying to sever ties to protect yourself hurts even more. They wonder why you’ve suddenly become cold and distant and have been avoiding them. You become the bad guy, labelled a bitch and losing a friendship, all because you’re trying to protect yourself from the disappointment and heartache.

Until recently, I’d never conceded the whole reason I moved away from where I was, taking a pay cut to transfer into a new job. I told people I was stressed in my job, I wanted to be closer to my friends and closer to my nephews. All of these things were true. But the one thing that tipped me over the edge, was the fact that I’d fallen hard for a straight woman – again – and she was a good friend. I couldn’t deal with that bullshit again. It was killing me that I was stressed out in my job and that my mind was always on her. My heart leapt every time she walked through the door, whenever I got a text from her and my heart ached when she wasn’t around. I took the first job I found and ran away with my tail between my legs. I didn’t want to hurt her by becoming hostile and distant, as she had been a good friend, so it was just best this way.

It took a long time for me to get over those feelings and to even admit that the situation had got the best of me. So, when I became interested in another openly gay woman, I thought that this was finally my chance at happiness. I didn’t hide my feelings and some mutual friends tried to set us up together. I was excited when we all went out to mingle, so, when I discovered that she was completely uninterested, I was devastated. Not only was she completely preoccupied with another woman, the times I actually had a chance to sit and talk with her were disrupted by my friends’ excessive need to talk and act inappropriately. She ended up hooking up with another woman that night, leaving me to wonder whether I will ever find somebody to love me back.


Coming Out – My Fairytale Ending

For a number of years, I’ve known I was gay. My issue though, for over 12 years, was battling my inner demons over whether I should come out and risk losing my friends and family, or just continue through life, struggling each day and wishing for death. In my mind, death was a far more attractive option than being lonely for the rest of my life. I was terrified that my parents, especially my dad, would reject me and my friends would become uncomfortable having me around. I wasn’t ready for that to happen.

A friend and I were engaged in a 30 day writing challenge, which saw us writing a piece on a random topic each day. One of the topics was My Life as a Fairytale. Since this particular friend is somebody I consider very close to me, I decided to use this topic to put together a clever story and come out to her. There were a few hold ups and my story wasn’t read until we were face to face. I was terrified, but it ended up being the best thing that could’ve happened. I could see her facial expressions and body language. She didn’t play it down, but she didn’t make it a huge deal either, which was so great. We just continued our night and chatted it out. I couldn’t help but smile like a dickhead for the rest of the night!

I also used my fairytale story to come out to my parents, the next day. They’ve never said so, but I’m fairly certain they already knew, based on their non-reaction! They don’t care about my sexuality, only that I’m happy.

I was on a roll, so while I was still feeling brave, I decided to tell the world – I posted my story to Facebook. All of my friends, workmates and extended family had the chance to read about and consider my sexuality and their feelings on it. Within 24 hours, I had over 100 likes and more than 80 comments – 100% positive. I was elated!

I know how extremely lucky I am to have such great friends and family, as there are a lot of gay people who aren’t treated as kindly. My heart goes out to those people. But there is no more liberating feeling than being able to speak freely, not having to check yourself every time you open your mouth, and just being able to be you.

Since coming out, my life quality has drastically improved. I am by no means cured of my depression and anxiety, but a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders, making it all just that bit easier to deal with.

Here is the story I wrote to aid my coming out. I have not changed my name, as there’s no real need for anonymity anymore:

Stef was a princess, in every way,

She conversed with other princesses every day.

But she soon grew tired of the other girls’ chatter,

As Stef’s heart was concerned with another matter.

While the other girls talked about their own Prince Charmings,

Stef’s thoughts wandered towards something a bit more alarming.

The truth is, Stef did not care for princes, you see,

But the other princesses just would not let her be.

“We’ll find you a prince,” said the other girls to Stef,

When Stef objected, they pretended to be deaf.

“How about a prince who can save you from a dragon,”

“Or a prince who’ll show up with his own fancy wagon.”

Stef shook her head and smiled and said,

“I can kill my own dragon and take off it’s head.”

“I don’t need a prince to drive me around,”

“I have my own cart, it covers lots of ground.”

Stef was a princess, that was for sure,

But she had a feeling that she just could not cure.

While the other girls tried to play match maker,

Stef set out to stop being such a faker.

For what Stef had to say, she needed to be brave,

She was scared everyone would laugh and call her mean names.

But she could not go on like this forever,

Although it might hurt, it was now or never.

“Please, all my friends, I have something to say,”

“You may have already guessed this – that I am gay.”

The princesses stared at her in stone cold silence,

The dread in Stef’s tummy felt as big as a giant.

When the silence was broken, Stef dared not breathe,

One of the princesses spoke up and Stef started to heave.

“But we already knew that, you silly girl,”

“We just wanted to include you as part of our world.”

“So stop stressing out, let’s get on with our day,”

“We still love you, dear princess, anyway.”


Letters to the Demons in my Life

To my daycare teachers,

It was a very long time ago, but I still remember clearly. I remember that you were always so impressed by what the other kids did – digging tunnels in the sandpit, using the water paints to paint the play equipment, sleeping in funny positions at nap time… I remember how affectionate you were towards the other kids. I also remember how, whenever I tried to gain your approval by doing any of the above mentioned, I would get snapped at, disapproving looks or just plain ignored. How do you think that would make a kid feel?

Regards.

To my kindergarten teacher,

Although I was of above average intelligence – I could read, write and draw well beyond second grade level – you never took time to actually praise me. Instead, you focused on calling me out for things I had no idea were inappropriate. You would make a big scene in front of the entire class and I would feel ashamed and embarrassed. It took me nearly 15 years to be able to participate in a group situation without having a panic attack.

Regards.

To my year 4/5 teacher,

You made me feel embarrassed in front of the entire class. When you asked me how many people I had in my group, I responded that we had a threesome. The word ‘threesome’ refers to a group of three people. Your uneducated mind took it to mean that I was talking about a group of three people having sex. You laughed and said, “I don’t think that’s the right word,” causing the entire class to erupt into laughter and me to glow bright red and get all teary eyed. It’s humiliating to be laughed at like that, especially when everyone takes the word of an adult over the word of a 10 year old. I had no chance at defending myself.

Regards.

To the teenage son of my after school carer,

You were definitely sick. I don’t even know where to start. I feel dirty even thinking about you. I used to dread the times when the adults would leave the room when you were there. Your musky smell and creeping fingers still haunt my mind sometimes, even though I’ve tried very hard to block you out. I hope you’re in jail somewhere, so you can’t do anymore what you did to me.

Regards.

To my neighbours when I was 10,

You were assholes. You used to gather groups of neighbourhood kids together, with the sole purpose of making at least one other kids’ life misery. Often, your target was me. I climbed a tree at the park once. You two, plus a group of your followers, decided to climb up after me. You wouldn’t let me down, but kept telling me to move out of your way. In the end, I decided to jump, rather than risk being pushed. It hurt, and, as I limped home crying, you all climbed down from the tree to pursue me and call me a cry baby.

Regards.

To the dux of my primary school,

You were an intelligent, but selfish person. You were always able to manipulate people to get what you wanted. That included me. I’m ashamed to say that you got me to do your bidding on more than one occasion. When you received the dux award over me, you placed your hands up in a gesture of, “what other outcome could there be,” and exclaimed loudly, “of course!” That was the moment I decided I didn’t like you. Even though I had been a frequent target of your nastiness, taunting and teasing, that was the moment.

Regards.

To my on again, off again bully,

I never knew what to expect from you. In year 8, you used to pitch tennis balls at me with all your might, whenever one strayed your way. I don’t know what I did to deserve that, but, after a solid 6 months of it, I do know you deserved the beating I gave you when I finally snapped. Jump forward a few years and we were past that. Friends even. Again, something changed. Again, I don’t know what. Suddenly, nobody was allowed to talk to me because you said so. If I tried to initiate a conversation with somebody, you would jump over the top and start talking to them. Or you’d ask them to go help you with something. It sucked. It was lonely. But thanks to you, I found better friends. Jump ahead another couple of years. I was driving around town one night and noticed you sitting by yourself on the post office stairs. You were drunk, vomiting and had nobody to call. I could’ve kept driving, but I didn’t. I stopped and took you home because that’s what a decent human being does.

Regards.

To my cliquey supervisor,

When I refused to join in on your cliquey shit in the workplace, you made my life living hell. I chose instead to get my job done and take on more work, to keep me busy. You would constantly check on me, making sure I wasn’t using Facebook or the internet for things other than work, yet would leave the rest of the team alone, even though they blatantly were doing nothing. You forbade me to associate with other divisions within our work area. You had it out for me, then wondered why I was so blunt during our encounters. You stuck a sign up, so you could see it when you looked at me, about rudeness being a weak persons defence. Well, perhaps you should have pointed it towards yourself. As you sat at your meeting table, pencil in hand, staring out the window for hours on end, I carried your team – the team you were supposed to manage. I did all the work that they refused to do, on top of my own work. But there was no thanks, just signs pinned up about how rude I was.

Regards.

To the bloke who runs that shitty division,

I won that job based on my experience and knowledge. You overturned the panel decision because your mate’s wife, who had no knowledge or experience, wanted a job. You fucked up there, because she’s about as useful as tits on a bull. Any wonder your division is going to shit.

Regards.

To the lady who was too old to be managed by me,

Just because I was younger than you, does not give you the right to be disrespectful. I earned that job by working hard and gaining a reputation as a trustworthy employee. You were never able to prove such a thing, hence being stuck at a lower level. This was my first role as a team leader and I employed you. I explained that your role would be to mostly collaborate documents and paperwork for me to process. To then flat out refuse to do these things and then say to others that you don’t like being told what to do by somebody younger than your daughter, made me look incapable. My workload began to back up and I had an officer doing nothing. I’m glad you eventually said what you felt then left. I only wish it had been while I still worked there.

Regards.

To the black and white bear that won’t employ me,

My many attempts at applying for higher paying jobs, which I desperately need to live, have all been knocked back by you for one reason or another. Only once has it been because of a merit based selection. Twice, you’ve omitted my applications because it was too hard for you to include them. Every time I sought feedback from you, you’ve sidestepped the request. Also, it’s perfectly ok for you not to give me a job or feedback and to tell your staff members to come to me for any administrative assistance? Not happening. That lady that was employed by the bloke from that shitty division should be able to assist. After all, that’s what she was employed to do.

Regards.

To all the people fed by the silver spoon,

Fuck you all. You get these promotions because you’re best mates with the boss. You don’t even need the money as badly as I do. You screw up my life by pushing my mum out of her job, to make room for yourselves, causing her to leave town and me being left to fend for myself with my financial difficulties. I find it extremely irritating when you start complaining when something doesn’t go your way. You get handed everything else in life, don’t expect any sympathy from me. I’ve actually had to work for what I have, and that’s not a whole lot. I could do these jobs better than most of you, but I lack that one qualification – friends in high places.

Regards.

To my friends,

When you say that you’re too busy to catch up, but have time to visit each other, that hurts. When I try to organise one on one meetings so we can catch up, but you invite everyone and talk about the fun you all had when you were too busy, that also hurts. When you say that we need to catch up and never follow through, despite my best efforts, that hurts. You wonder why I’m so antisocial. It’s because I’m sick of being hurt by the people who are supposed to care about me. I have nobody to turn to when all I need is to have a cry, vent and a hug. You’re only available when it’s convenient for you. Do you understand how lonely that is?

Regards.

To mum,

You’ve made me feel like a lesser being pretty much my whole life. My sisters received your positive attention, while I was always the target of your criticism and general nastiness. While I did well in school, never got into trouble, stayed away from drugs and alcohol and from teenage sex, my sisters did quite the opposite. One of them had her first kid at 15 years old. The other ran away to her boyfriend’s house at 16 and is now a drug addict. At least I finished high school, as difficult as it was. Please explain to me why I was the disappointment. Why you always called me the bitch. Why, even though I’ve held down work since I was 16 and have a record of repaying debts, I’m always the last to receive help from you when I need it. I feel like I’ve never actually had a mum – at least, not one who cares about me in a motherly way.

Regards.

To the woman I love,

I hate you for making me love you and for not loving me back.

Regards.

To anyone else who has ever laughed at me, called me names, ignored me, avoided me, treated me like shit or otherwise,

You are all part of the reason I have no self esteem. I feel worthless and I feel that nobody even cares that I feel like that. So fuck you all.

Regards.


La Douleur Exquise

A French phrase that has no direct English translation. It describes the excruciating, heart-wrenching pain of wanting somebody you can’t have. I like this phrase. It resonates with me because I, like so many others before me, know the pain that comes with feeling unrequited love. I have been in love with the same person for almost six years now and every single one of those days, the pain of my feelings has very nearly killed me. It’s like a part of my heart has burst and filled my chest with the feeling of a sadness so deep, it has become physically painful.

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