I was reading this by Helen Razer because Helen Razer's work is always worth reading - it's intelligent, often insightful, often funny, and she has the admirable quality of not venturing to pass comment on things she doesn't know something about. And on this subject she says a lot that's worth pondering. This post isn't really about her post though - it just got me thinking.
I've often thought, am I really sick? Am I maybe just "sad"? I don't think so - my sadness seems too...out of the blue, the lows too terrifying and random. But who knows? Maybe I'm just wallowing. All I know is I'm sad a lot, that therapy and medication seem to help, and that so, on occasion, does a bit of tea and sympathy from nice people.
But whatever label can be placed upon my demons, what I'm always fiercely trying to avoid is the temptation to use it as an excuse. For the simple reason that I've been depressed, I've been in the blackest of holes, but I've never lost control of my ability to decide how to treat other people. I've never been a jerk "because of depression". Sometimes depression can make it a little harder to behave the way your better angels tell you to, but when I'm a jerk, it's because...well it's because sometimes I'm a jerk. I hate that. I wish I wasn't. It kills me, but I can't deny it, sometimes I'm just not a good guy, as much as I aspire to be.
Recently I lost a friend. Not in the fatal sense - in the sense that I was a jerk, and my friend decided she didn't want to be my friend anymore. I wasn't a deliberate jerk: I was just thoughtless and self-absorbed; but I hurt her, and she exercised her prerogative to cut me out of her life.
I don't even know if I can convey how much that hurt. It still hurts. It's ripping through me, leaving great gaping wounds in me every day, that she's not my friend, that I let her down, that I've lost her. I don't want to lose any of the people I love. And most of all I don't want to let the people I love down - it hurts all the more to lose a friend through your own stupidity, to know it's your fault. It's horrific. It is, let us say it, DEPRESSING. I'm shattered.
I've gone close to losing other people I love recently. I've acted terribly, I've let those demons get the best of me, I've lashed out and fought and fled and given people ample reason to kick me to the kerb. I'm lucky they haven't.
And yeah, it's been tied in to my mental state, the fight I'm having with my own psyche, my own brain chemistry. It makes it hard sometimes. But it's still me who's done it, me who's disregarded friends, lashed out at family, mistreated my loved ones. It's me who's fallen prey to the seduction of sadness, the self-absorption that beckons when you're depressed, or even just sad. I let that happen, and on occasion I found myself too weak to resist.
In the end, sometimes I'm a jerk. It's nobody's fault but mine. And I know that. And I'm sorry. I'm always trying to be a better man. Trying and failing, but hopefully failing a little less each time. I am sorry if you're reading this, and I've been a jerk to you. I don't ever mean to be, but fact is sometimes I am, and I've got to wear my mistakes. I'll keep trying.
Fighting against depression is also fighting against your lesser nature. I'm tired, and I would like to stop fighting. But I won't.