It’s been a long time since I’ve written here and that seems about right. I’ve started countless journals, only to cart them around move to move, unfinished and unfilled. Unable to throw them away, I take comfort in going back over these fragments in time. Sometimes my heart aches for the broken person whose distress is fresh, even now. Sometimes I feel like I’m reading the words of someone much wiser, put together even, who seems to be reassuring me from afar. Reading over the posts that I made in early sobriety feel mostly like the latter. Which is crazy to me as it was such a busy, stressful, physically and emotionally demanding time. At least as far as I remember. I do have a way of prettying things up–making my depression (since that’s mostly what I write about) palpable.
Let me tell you, I’m not counting days the same way that I used to. Maybe I should. I’m still in recovery, but saying that means something different than it did from the start, and maybe that’s an issue. I’m still trying to suss it out. I’m not drinking, so there’s that.
My life is amazing–I mean that truly. The promises in many ways have come true. I have a job in my field that is part of my identity and exercises my compassion. I have a loving partner, who has been by my side for over two years. I have family that has forgiven and embraced me and friends that still call me when I’m set on isolation.
I, however, am still struggling. I am moderately to severely depressed most of the time. I lately find myself nearly crippled with anxiety that is only salved with a strong sense of guilt and responsibility. And a strong memory of what happens when I give in to those feelings and shut down. I am thankful for the wonders that sobriety has granted me–a stable life–for that has shown me that my depression is real, not situational, not simply a passing phase. I can look at the blessings of the universe in my life and say, “I’m grateful” while acknowledging that my brain is still trying to kill me. And FUCK that sucks. I wanted to deeply to be clear of this shit. I’ve known depression since I was a child and gaslighted myself about its existence for just as long.
It has gotten to the point where I can’t even lie to strangers about how I’m feeling. I can’t fake it till I make it. And I’m torn on whether or not I should want to. I work in a social-work oriented field now, gravitating towards helping others muddle through the mess of life as many addicts and hurt people do. There’s is an emphasis upon normalization. Normalizing mental illness, normalizing alternative coping mechanisms, normalizing the shit. Normalization in this sense is not so much painting these things as favorable or sustainable but rather emphasizing the importance of talking about them, seeking help, being authentic about that which makes us most alone in this life.
I operate generally under the mentality that if I don’t make waves with my own emotional nonsense, if I keep everyone happy and unaware, if I get shit done and manage my business on my own, I have succeeded. This mentality has failed me countless times. It has nearly killed me, it has left me with ingrained and harmful habits and beliefs that seek to fuck me to this day.
I know better, I seek to help my clients reach places that are better. But I’ve also seen through this work how abysmal the chances of successfully getting help can be. I’ve seen people spit out by systems that were probably run by people just like me, trying to do right by people only to fall short. I’ve seen people destroyed and marginalized by the very things that were meant to pull them out of isolation and despair. This particularly long ass three month rut has left me thinking, do I even know how to get help? Do I really want the help that’s available? Do I want to go through the song and dance of therapy, medications, etc. just to start over and over again?
I don’t know. We’ll just have to see.
Hang in there.