Sunday, March 10, 2013

This Is Me

I like to count my blessings. I don't do it often enough, but I've been doing it more lately because I know what a good thing it is to do, to remind myself of what's fantastic about life.

And I have many blessings. My marvellous wife, my spectacular children, my adorable friends, the opportunity to get paid to write, and to have large numbers of people see my work. An absence of famine, war or violence from my life. The privilege of living as a thirtyish white man in a first world country. I am safe, well, and loved. Hell, my cup overfloweth.

I have a good life. I have a great life.

In fact, the only parts of my life that aren't good are the parts that are absolutely awful.

But those parts don't really count because they're not real. They're all in my head. They're my own weakness and stupidity overwhelming the logic centres of my brain. They're bullshit.

However, they do provide a fascinating (not really) insight into how a person can know their life is brilliant at the same time as they feel their life is unbearable.

But it's not real. Let me stress that. Let me stress in particular that I know it's not real. I already know.

Let me stress also that, as I mentioned above, I know how good my life is. I count my blessings.

This is relevant because when you talk about what's awful in your life, people tend to try to remind you of all the good things and try to scold you for not appreciating them, so it's useful to make it absolutely clear: yeah, I got that.

I got it. I got the good stuff. I got the blessings. I got what I need to be grateful for.

But there'll always be times when life remains awful, for one simple reason: I hate myself.

I've often heard it said that you can't love others until you love yourself. That sounds to me like crap, and I hope I'm right, because I like to think I love a great many people, but I could hardly hate myself more.

It may be that my overwhelming self-loathing is part of the bullshit I mentioned earlier. It may be it's all in my head. But I nevertheless know it to be true.

I know that I'm a failure. I know that I let my friends and family down every day. I know that I have wasted my time and my talent all my life. I know I'm ignorant, and lazy. I don't do enough, and I couldn't do enough if I wanted to because I lack the ability. I know I'll always have delusions that I can achieve beyond my grasp, and I know I'll be constantly disappointed when they're smashed time and again, and I know it won't stop me forming new ones and chasing after success like a pathetic dog running after a car.

I know I'm neglectful and callous. I know I treat people badly and that they deserve more from me, and I deserve less than I get from them. I know I disappoint people I love like it's going out of style and I know I have no idea how to maintain decent human relationships. I'm terrible in company and I'm useless alone. I unsettle people with my obnoxiousness and I disgust people with my desperation to be loved. I'll never have the love I want and I'll always have more than I deserve, if only out of pity, because if there's one thing I am worthy of, it's pity. No more so than the poor bastards caught up in my orbit though. Because I know I'm annoying, and insufferable, and destructive.

And I know I'm fat and I'm ugly and I'm flat-out disgusting. I feel sick every time I look in the mirror, and I know that's only fair because I'm repellent. And I know that this is mainly my own fault and I have brought my own revulsion upon myself through greed and laziness and lack of self-respect. And I know I won't change because I know I haven't got it in me. I know no matter how much I swear to improve myself, I'll fail. It's in my blood. I know I'll keep looking at the mirror, at that fat repulsive utterly unloveable creature, and feeling my stomach turn, till I go to the grave. I know every time I venture out I'm inflicting myself on the world, taking up too much room, getting in the way, turning off all I meet with my hideous size and unspeakable visage.

And I know most of all I deserve everything I get and more. I know when I look at myself I want to punch my face, hard and repeatedly, until I bleed, until I fall. I know when I think about myself I want to smash my head into a wall. I know every time I make a mistake, every time I let someone down, every time I make an unsuccessful pitch, every time I make a joke that doesn't get a laugh, every time I make a mess, every time I miss a day of work, every time I spill a drink, every time I forget to buy milk, every time I don't reply to an email...every single time I want to beat myself into unconsciousness.

And that's just what I want to do now, for my unmitigated narcissism in writing this. Because if there's anything worse than how much I hate myself, it's the burden I place on the world by insisting on sharing it with others. I'm very sorry.

I am, as Whitman said, large. I contain multitudes. I am smart and funny and dull and wise and foolish and arrogant and shy and loud and quiet and loving and kind and vicious and cold and sad and happy. But of all my shining facets, the biggest, the one that outshines all others, is self-loathing.

This is what it's like. Knowing you have a great life, and knowing it feels terrible. This is what it's like. Knowing you're a good person, and knowing you're a dreadful person.

This is what it's like.

When you say these things people tell you you're wrong, or that you need to snap out of it, or that you should adopt a more positive attitude. They tell you to count your blessings.

All of it's useless. I know I'm wrong, but I know I'm right. I don't want to be told anything. I just want to tell you - whoever "you" might be - that this is what it's like. Hating yourself.

Depression claimed me years ago, and it's made sure that my worst enemy is myself.

And I just want him gone.


cristina said...

Being in a long term lesbian relationship perhaps my opinion doesn't count, but I quite like the look of you...

Even if you stuff up every minute of every day, it is better to have you stick around. I wish it was easier to help brains feel better.

Mephitis said...

I was just listening to Stephen Fry's autobiography and this seems the same sort of self-hatred he reflects on (only more pompously cos y'know, he *is* Stephen Fry :P). Ever get checked out for bi-polar? I say this semi-seriously. :)

Depression's a bastard, but you don't seem to be. I daresay your loved ones' perception of you is very different to your own.

Internet platitudes of support x

Unknown said...

You are in no way a failure, you only need to look back and see how far you/we have come to see that you are not a failure.

You do heaps, there aren't enough hours in the day for you to do more and still get the amount of sleep you require to function properly, you already run low.

You've wasted your talent? So untrue, people just havent given you the chance to use it more often than you already do.

You don't have delusions you have goals, everyone does, some will be achieved some won't, doesn't mean we shouldn't have them or are stupid for having them, it's something to aim for and you never know what your future has in store. You wouldn't say that I was deluded with my goal/hope of selling my cupcakes and having my own store would you? Same goes for you.

Neglectful and callous, says who? And you are certainly not terrible company, we have such great times together and as a family. You do have a lot going on in the head of yours, not only your work but also that bad stuff that tells you all this horrible stuff that isn't true.

Yes you've lost friends and yes you've hurt people because of your illness, but surely this shows you who your real friends are, they are the ones that are still there even after the bad stuff because they love and care about you and know that when you're going through the bad time that that's not really you and they can forget about that, because that's what friends do.

In no way are you ugly, not by any means. And babe if you want to lose weight you totally can, I wanted to and I did and if you want my help I will help you, I've still got my own weight battle going on and I am so grateful for you being supportive in trying to help me, sadly I still have my head up my arse and I really, really need to pull my finger out. Losing weight if you want to might all seem a bit hard but it's really not, making simple changes can make a HUGE difference, and as you've seen I don't miss out on much :D

I love you and the kids love you and we want you to love yourself as well, this is our year to try and be happy and have fun, and whilst it's not been off to a great start, we can totally change it around.

No one is perfect, everyone makes mistakes, you don't have to beat yourself up for all of them.

I'm a wise woman, in some respects not as wise as you, but in others so much wiser. I hope my words help you to realise that you're not a bad person, and you should trust my judgement :D Perhaps you should print this out and read it when you're feeling like this, or at least make a note and put it where you can read it.

I am stubborn and you're not checking out until we are old, even if I have to drag you to the old peoples home myself, there's no way that you will not be here to see the kids grow up and achieve their goals and dreams and be all that they want to be, because they have it within them, just like you do.

<3 <3 <3

Unknown said...

Also, depression hasn't claimed you, and I won't let it, we can control it, it doesn't have to control you.

Fiona said...

So much rings true.

I'm supposedly smart, educated, witty, amusing, and all that.

But I get bogged down.

Don't like what I see?

I make it worse.

Another cut, binge again, no sleep, something. To try and throw it all away.

But I keep on living. And I'm struggling, but at least that means I'm still fighting.

Rah said...

Ah, I had a perfect comment all typed out and then I looked at my phone the wrong way and the browser crashed and ate it. :p

I'm a fan of your great satire and I just wanted to share with you this amazing, funny neurobiologist I am also fan of and what he has to say about what makes Mr D tick...

Cassi said...

I'm not going to say that this is all untrue, because the problem with feeling this way (depression claimed me years ago too!) is that it's true.
As long as your brain is telling you that this is the truth, and you don't have the means to fight it, then it is your truth.

I still hate myself, I still think one day people are going to realise what a crap person I am. I did find ACT really helpful though in coming to terms with the idea that you can believe it and not believe it at the same time.

I personally love your stuff. My days would be emptier without your blog.

Anonymous said...


the only thing is to start an auto-misanthropes' club- it could host 'detestation' evenings where everyone gets to pick from a smorgusbord of personal failings and self-hatreds. It may not help but it could be fun.

Phil Harvey said...

Ben, in the short time we have been interacting online you have made a huge impression on me. I believe we are quite similar in so many ways - except you're a hell of a lot funnier. Basically I think you're great mate :)

Anonymous said...

Ben, please stop trying to fill the hole inside you with attention from strangers. You need to talk to a professional and stick at it until it starts working. Which it will. Please get some help. This is not it.

Ben Pobjie said...

Dear Anonymous,

Please stop trying to fill the hole inside you by giving unsolicited advice to people you don't know based on posts you don't understand while lacking the guts or decency to even identify yourself. Please get some help.

Phil Harvey said...

A well-known speaker started off his seminar holding up a $20.00 bill. In the room of 200, he asked, "Who would like this $20 bill?" Hands started going up. He said, "I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this."

He proceeded to crumple up the $20 dollar bill. He then asked, "Who still wants it...?" Still the hands were up in the air. "Well," he replied, "What if I do this?" And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty. "Now, who still wants it?" Still the hands went into the air.

"My friends, we have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20. Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We may feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value.

Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to those who DO LOVE you. The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we know, but by WHO WE ARE.

You are special-Don't EVER forget it."

Mike Stuchbery said...

You are by no means a failure. No way. I understand why you may think you are, but trust me, you ain't.

Kate B said...
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Kate said...

Dear Ben,
You are someone that makes me laugh out loud whenever I read one of your hilarious recaps or pithy tweets.
You have depression and that is such a terrible dark and hideous illness.
But Ben its an illness and like any illness it has symptoms. The worst of course is the dark mind chatter of loathing, disgust, regret and just about any other mind set that’s sole purpose is to beat you up.
I'm sure you have got treatment before and probably some times it works and then the darkness comes again.
I don’t know if you have tried Acceptance and Commitment therapy but as a psychologist I find this such a hopeful, meaningful and realistic therapy.
If you haven't read Russ Harris's reality gap its a good start to see if maybe just maybe ACT could be the anchor for you when the storms of depression come.
Ben you are beloved I'm sure by many and I wish you the best.

Anonymous said...

I would be pleased if you topped yourself or at least crawled into some hole never to be heard of again.
You pay your bills by mocking the Australians who welcomed your parents to these shores. When I am Prime Minister I will be sending you and the rest of your Insiders/NewMatilda/KingsTrib/DailyLife cultural warrior cohort to the gulags in Tassie for re-education.
Viva la Australia!

Mephitis said...
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Mephitis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah said...

Tonight I'm in the middle of going mad. Knowing I'd read this and some of what is true for you helps me know I'm not the only one and I might cope ok for a while sometime soon. I hope my husband will see through all this like your Bec does for you. Thank you for being honest.

JR said...

It must have taken a lot for you to write that. Reading it, it sounded a lot like the thoughts that run through my head (thoughts that I dare not say out loud because most people wouldnt understand.) So thank you. I feel a little less alone in the world now.