The Week That Was
Posted by dirkgently1066
2nd Feb 2016

An incredibly difficult week and one that I am almost reluctant to look back on. And yet I know that there are issues that I need to explore.

The details of the week are not important, I do not wish to trawl over the events any further. It is the emotional impact that they had that is important. With that in mind, the week found me at turns sad, angry, lonely, tearful, bitter and remorseful.

Things started with a sense of isolation, which in turn led to me feeling both sad and angry. Not knowing what to do with these feelings, I bottled them up and kept them inside, retreating into myself, withdrawing from those around me. Inevitably this withdrawal only increased the feeling, adding bitterness to the equation, feeding the cycle of anger and sadness. In the end, I felt I had retreated too far to come back to the point that any genuine grievance had long since been lost.

Whilst these events played out, on a completely unrelated note I found myself thinking about my dad as a song came on the cd that reminded me of happier times. I knew that the anniversary of his death was near (the fact that I had to look up the date causing another round of guilt and shame) and in a vulnerable mood, found my mind wandering to that which had been lost. This was compounded by a lunchtime walk, normally the highlight of my day, accompanied on this occasion by a Coldplay song whose lyrics felt so poignant ('Nobody said it would be so hard...') that I felt close to tears, more than once having to take in a deep, steadying breath to prevent them spilling forth.

Coming home from work, I could not even bring myself to listen to the radio. Pulling onto the drive, I switched the engine off and sat not wanting to get out, unable to share my internal pain, not wanting to face the reality of parenting that awaited me within.

By the end of the week, after days of anguish, anxiety, sadness and anger, I felt drained. It took me back to a time before therapy when depression and anxiety were at their worst. But there was one more card to play. Finally I opened up and shared the internal struggle and pain. And in so doing, I found a way forward and began the process of moving on. Yet even then the battle was not over, my internal sadness replaced with an external anxiety. Had I done the right thing? Had I pushed the wrong button? The cycle of doubt, guilt, recrimination and shame refused to stop pedalling. I do not regret my emotions for they were real within each moment, but I began to regret my actions.

If I knew how to write a big sigh, I would enter it here. It is frustrating to look back at these events with a clear mind and see the opportunities to resolve that were lost. But let's instead focus on the feelings.
Sadness and anger are of course healthy emotions alongside happiness and fear. It is only when they become sustained that they can become unhealthy and lead to the well-worn path of depression.

Why though did I feel so isolated and why did it hurt so much? The answer lies in a recurring underlying theme of my mental illness, a crippling lack of self-confidence. Fundamentally I retain a sense that I am flawed and, if not unlovable, then at least easy to dislike. I compare myself unfavourably to others, constantly looking for opportunities to support my theory that others are more popular, more wanted, more fun. I become resentful, unable to appreciate the achievement of another without seeing it as a knock on self. Like anything, if you go looking for something you are convinced is there then you are likely to find it, no matter if the evidence supports it.

And why could I not confront these issues? Partly perhaps because I knew that I had played a part. Mainly though through fear and embarrassment. If I confronted my fears, they may be confirmed as true. What would be worse, fearing the worst or knowing it?

As these issues began to subside, I started to ask myself a different question. Who am I? Am I the guy who wants to dress in a suit and sit at the big table sounding like he belongs? Am I the guy who wants to push on, improve himself and achieve? Or am I the guy who likes to listen to wrestling podcasts, fantasy booking my own promotion whilst daydreaming about which retro game review I'm going to write next? The answer of course is all of the above.

This continuous swirl of thoughts and self-doubt leaves me wondering where I am. Why did I fall so hard? Why did I experience such depth of emotion?

Perhaps I am just being melodramatic. Maybe this is just life. But there is more going on here. For some time now, I have been conscious that I am struggling. The simplest of decisions cause me anxiety. I am constantly losing my patience with the children. Emotionally I feel all over the place, a snatched lyric or melody routinely evoking a sense of (swiftly repressed) tearful sadness. The week that was is not an isolated event but a pattern of escalating behaviour.

It is against this backdrop that I have decided to see the doctor with a view to being placed back on anti-depressants. There is no shame in this but at the same time I must be sure that I am not simply trying to run away from life. The tablets are a means to an end, not the end themselves, a chance to get back on an even keel, balance out my emotions and start to tackle some of the underlying issues again.

This blog is not what I wanted it to be. I had written this out in my head so many times that by the time I have come to put (figurative) pen to paper it is inevitably a disappointment. At least to me.

But then maybe that says it all.

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