After I published today’s post, I got an email; I had been corresponding with a few people about the PAIL post before and after I put it up. In the email, the author stated she was surprised I was looking for a negative in a positive situation. This stopped me in my tracks.
My Freshman year of college was mired in a pretty awful depression. I spent that Winter Break secluded in our snowboarding club’s cabin, isolated and alone, reading David Foster Wallace’s monstrosity Infinite Jest and hitting the slopes when I could get a ride. I spent almost an entire month up in that lonesome cabin, rarely interacting with anyone, stewing in my own misery.
When I came back down to confront the real world I spent an evening with one my best high school friends. During that night’s conversation, which ended up being the last we had for a long time, she told me I liked being depressed, she insisted that I was choosing to see the world so negatively, she assured me that if I wanted to be positive about things, I just had to do it.
I sent her away that night and didn’t speak to her again for many, many years.
Later, my two closest college friends confronted me with similar sentiments. I didn’t send them packing because if I had I’d have been left with nothing, no friends and no place to live. Still, hearing them insist that my depressed state was something I had control over was incredibly upsetting.
It took me a long time to work through my depression. I spent a lot of hours talking to therapists and downed many different medicines, in varying combinations. Finally, and for reasons I don’t really understand, I was able to pull myself out of my darkness. In my mid twenties, life started looking a lot better.
Around the same time my sister, who had never been a half-glass-full kind of person, suffered some very devastating losses. She fell into her own depression and became an incredibly negative person. Being around her was difficult and exhausting. Even though I knew that she couldn’t control how she was feeling, I hated spending time with her. Still, I supported her in whatever ways I could and with medication and therapy (and Buddhism) she pulled herself out of her own depressive episode.
Experiencing depression from the outside, with my sister, was an eye opening experience. It made me look back on my own episodes and sympathize with what my friends went through with me. I promised myself that when depression struck again (I always knew it would strike again) I would be better about either seeing the positive in life or keeping my darkly negative thoughts to myself. I’ve worked hard, during my healthy years, to seek out the good in situations, to see the silver lining, to be positive. I know I don’t always succeed but my intentions are good.
My struggles TTC and with my loss definitely shook my attempted glass-half-full outlook on life. Our financial strains, my father’s prolonged unemployment and our relationship difficulties have also chipped away at its already tarnished facade. I wonder if being a part of this community, and coming face to face with the constant and overwhelming loss, is having a similar effect.
The thing is, I don’t want to go back there. I don’t want to be the person who looks past what she has, who is seen as ungrateful, who finds a way to twist something wonderful into something troublesome. I have been that person and I never want to be her again. I hope the wonderful women in this community will help me stay on the path and tell me, as someone did today, when I’m veering off it. I know it’s asking a lot–maybe it’s asking too much and if it is I’m sorry–but I do hope that if I become that negative person you will please, please tell me. I know my anxiety has ways of twisting the truth, transforming it into something warped and grotesque. Sometimes I don’t recognize when it’s happening. Sometimes I need someone to shake things into focus. I’m sure as we start TTC again that will be the case. I truly hope you all can help me see what’s actually in front of me instead of what I fear I will have to face.
In the meantime, I’m sorry I saw the negative in a positive situation. I thought I was trying to be considerate, trying not to offend but instead I was the one offending and I regret that immensely. Of course, there is a silver lining and I’m grateful to be reminded of the path I chose not that long ago and how I very much still hope to follow it.
With this entry I’m going to bow out for a while. I’m sorry for the deluge of posts I’ve published in the last twelve hours. I promise you won’t be hearing from me again for a while. I have some shit to work out on the home front and a lot of work to do on other projects. I hope you all have a restful weekend and a hopeful beginning to a new month and maybe a new season, depending on where you find yourself and whether Spring has yet arrived.