So I’m living my happy ever after. I have everything I’ve ever wanted and more. So why am I so desperately unhappy? Why do I feel as if life is nearly too hard to live? Why do I get anxious, bitter, cynical, feel as if I’m worthless, want to harm myself, feel as if getting out of bed in the morning is pointless and that there will never be any happiness or joy in my life? Even when I’ve managed to put that aside for a while and pretend some positivity, why does it only take the most stupid and trivial thing to set me off into a downward spiral?
When I’m in this place (and I’m in it as write) I don’t understand why my children love me – I shout at them so often, and often feel too exhausted and lethargic to pay them proper attention, and even look after them properly. I don’t understand why my husband loves me – I can’t be good company. I can’t see what on earth I can offer except the money I earn, and he could get most of that as maintenance if he did throw me out. I can’t see why anyone wants to be friends with me. I’m dull, often self-centred and mostly try too hard when I’m not being self-centred. I cannot see anything at all that I contribute to anyone’s life. And I must be a dreadful person inside to be so unhappy despite the fact that I have everything anyone could possibly want.
I don’t drink – it makes me ill. I don’t do drugs, well not much – I sometimes use cocodamol to improve my mood, although I usually have a headache or feel bad physically in some way before I take them. I’m not promiscuous – I’ve been faithful to my husband for 22 years. I don’t spend lots of money. I don’t overeat any more, I’m on a healthy diet that suits me and I’m even losing weight very slowly, and often I find I don’t have much appetite. I don’t gamble. I don’t smoke.
I have no dreams, no ambitions, there doesn’t seem to be anything I really want, or anything I desperately want to do. I can’t see my way forward. I just exist, from day to day, mostly finding it extremely tough just to get from morning to evening. I make no impact. I’m too selfish to devote myself to good works – or possibly just too tired. I contribute nothing to anyone.
I know this is depression. It’s genetic. I’ve suffered with it since I was 14, been on and off anti-depressants all my adult life. Logically, I know it won’t last. I now have some pills from the doctor. They should start working next week if I’m lucky. I’ve been out for long walks; eaten very dark chocolate; spent quality time with my family; drunk coffee in the mornings; tried to give up worrying about the small stuff. None of that works, at least not for long, certainly not any permanent solution. I do know the anti-depressants will work. I know this mood isn’t permanent. But it is dangerous and damaging, to myself and others.
But – I love. I don’t know whether it makes any difference at all to anyone, or to the Universe, but I love. Fiercely and protectively. Sometimes passionately. Sometimes stupidly. Without logic or reason. With every fibre of my being. I love. It hurts. Sometimes it causes me such pain and anxiety I can hardly breathe. But it gives me strength. It keeps me alive. Being loved won’t do it. Being loved is the most precious gift that anyone can give me, and when I’m in a good place it’s the feedback that keeps the chain reaction going – but when I’m in this particular dark space I’m immune to the love coming in from the outside. It’s the love I feel for others that stops me from just ceasing to exist.
And this is my roundabout way of saying I’ve made a huge realisation today. I love, therefore I am. And I don’t need to do anything else, or be anything else. That’s enough reason for me to exist. I love. Everything else is just detail. And if you are someone that I love, right now you’re helping to keep me going – not because you love me (although that does help whenever I’m not in this very specific very dark place), but because I love you.