Listening: Chamber of Reflection – Mac Demarco
Happy Saturday. Depression is kicking my sorry ass today.
Originally my next post was going to be about albums that I really enjoy. Unfortunately, I’m just not feeling it today. Instead, I’ve decided to write… whatever this is. It’s hard for me to write or talk about this, and it’s going to be even harder for me to let other people read about it. But I know I won’t get better if I don’t put it out there.
And one last thing – I’m not trying to make anyone feel bad with this post. This is just a way for me to express how I’m feeling and to let other people who are going through the same thing to know that they’re not alone.
For the fifth time in the past three months, my therapist tells me that she doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with me.
As much as I want to believe her, I’m finding it harder and harder to think that she’s telling me the truth.
My therapist is nice enough. I like her alright. Mostly I like having someone that I can talk to who’s not directly involved in my life, someone who can give an outside perspective into this jumbled mess. Me and her used to meet once a week to talk about how things were going, but since I’ve been doing better, we only meet every other week. My sessions are usually the same each time.
Regular sessions go like this: she asks me how my week was. I tell her. She asks me how my friend situation is going. I tell her. She asks me about school, work, home, and more. I tell her most things, but some things I keep to myself. Some things are better left only to myself. It’s an hour of pleasant conversation, but it wasn’t always that way.
During my first session, which lasted roughly an hour, I cried through the entire thing. I could barely get out three words before a fresh round of tears appeared. I must have gone through a whole box of tissues.
Now I barely shed a tear.
Sometimes the routine changes. Sometimes she asks me if I want to die. I say no. Sometimes she asks me if I harm myself. I say no. Sometimes she asks me if I’m alright. I say no, but I’m getting there. These answers seems to satisfy her, and for the most part, I’m not lying.
It turns out I am incredibly good at pretending I’m okay. I have convinced my therapist, my professors, and most other people that I am doing fine. Honestly, most of the time I am. Despite the rough couple of months that I had this semester, I continued to work hard, and I’ve gotten far. I’ve managed to become a CA. I’ve managed to come out of my shell a little more. I’ve managed to keep my grades as all A’s.
Essentially, I’ve managed to learn how to successfully function while being sad as fuck.
I haven’t always been this sad. Last year I was relatively okay. There were a few problems here and there with a boy, which I’ve come to realize that I was being childish at some points in this situation, but it wasn’t only me. I also had a few issues with a “friend” that treated me awfully, but for the most part, I did a relatively good job of adjusting to college life. But there have been numerous things this year, like most of my friends abandoning me for weeks and not speaking to me, and now I find myself feeling lonely and having panic attacks at least once a week (as someone who rarely used to have them, one a week feels like a lot) despite things starting to get better.
The panic starts with a lump in my throat. The choking feeling usually follows that. The grand finale is the gasping for air. There are usually tears and snot involved along the way. It’s not a pretty sight. A sure sign that I’m having a panic attack is me unconsciously clutching my throat as an attempt to control things that I really can’t control. It makes me feel grounded in some weird sort of way. If I can clutch my throat, I know I’m still alive and capable of doing something.
But sometimes my gasps are so loud that it’s hard for me to keep quiet. I’m not interested in letting anybody hear or see me when I get like that. It’s not that I’m ashamed of it – no one should ever have to feel ashamed for feeling that way. I’m just not interested in anyone knowing that sometimes things get so overwhelming that it feels like I’m dying. The biggest thing is that I don’t want people to see me as vulnerable. Very few people have witnessed me in full panic mode. Once, my roommate found me curled up in a ball in the bathtub gasping for air. I think I had been there for the good part of an hour before she came home and heard me. I’m grateful that she was there to talk me down, but sometimes I get angry at myself for letting anybody see that.
I think my fear of people seeing me having a panic attack stems from my intense need to keep my life private.
My therapist gave me a paper once on breathing techniques to stop myself from having attacks. Inhale for 5 seconds, exhale for 5 seconds. Repeat. It’s something that you have to concentrate on. Sometimes I use the techniques, but it’s hard when you’re trying to keep your gasps quiet and unnoticeable in an apartment with such thin walls.
My panic attacks are not brought on so much by stress (although there have been a few stress-induced ones) but rather when I’m feeling an intense rush of sadness and loneliness. It may sound weird, but my sadness has a cycle. It’s probably stupid of me to think of it as a “sadness cycle” when it’s probably depression, but I don’t know enough about mental illnesses to diagnose myself. And, well, obviously my therapist doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with me.
Here’s how the cycle goes: weekdays are (usually) good days. There may be a few bad days tossed in there, but they’re all pretty positive for the most part. I don’t often have panic attacks during the week or feel much sadness. I’m too busy for that.
On weekdays, I go to class, I go to work, I spend hours doing my school work, I play Dungeons and Dragons twice a week, and I do a handful of other things. I have people to interact with me. It makes me happy. I have places to go and things to do and it keeps my mind off my sadness.
Weekends, on the other hand, are shitty.
Most weekends I have nowhere to go. I don’t have a car on campus, so I’m basically stuck here. I don’t like to ask other people to take me places because I don’t like the idea of relying on people for something I could do just fine on my own. Most of the time I don’t leave my bedroom unless it’s to get food or go do newspaper layout. As you can probably guess, I have an abundant amount of free time, which is never good for my wandering mind. Free time means hours of thinking about how sad and lonely I am. Friday and Saturday nights are prime panic attack nights.
Don’t take this the wrong way. My panic attacks aren’t some novelty item that I’m trying to flaunt around. I know there are people out there that can’t do things because their panic attacks are so bad, and mine happen so little that I’m able to get things done for the most part. I just wanted to point out what I’m dealing with.
Anyway – my sadness follows a never ending cycle that’s only broken by the occasionally break from college.
That’s not necessarily a good thing. Going home for breaks tends to make my sadness act up even more. It doesn’t act up when I’m at home – it’s actually the exact opposite. My family is so full of love and kindness that sometimes I don’t think I deserve them. When I was younger, I feel like I really took certain members of my family for granted. Now I have no idea where I would be without them. They only want the best for me, and they want me to be happy. I just want them to know that me being sad isn’t their fault, and that their love is one of the things that keeps me going most days. If you’re reading this, just know I love you and I want to make you proud. Maybe someday soon I’ll make a whole separate post dedicated to you guys, because you definitely deserve it.
Sorry for going off on a tangent again. What was I saying? Oh, that’s right. My sadness cycle.
My sadness starts to act up when I have to return to school.
It’s funny. Last year I always looked forward to coming back to school. Even though I was doing fun things with my friends at home, break seemed to drag on and on forever. It was nice to not have to do school work, but I missed my happy little life that I had built at college.
Now, after every break, I dread going back.
It’s hard to go from being with people who want you around to being with people who seem like they don’t care if you’re around at all.
It’s hard for me to think that my friends really do want me around after they left me alone for those few weeks at the beginning of the semester. During that time, they didn’t speak to me, they made different friends, and now they have an established little group. I don’t like to admit it, but those few weeks were hell for me. I had a handful of people that I actually interacted with. I didn’t leave my room much. I didn’t eat much at the time, either, which still effects me right now. I can’t remember the last time I actually had an appetite.
But really – things are better now. At least my old friends started talking to me again. I don’t feel as lonely as I did before, but that doesn’t mean the feeling has gone away.
Despite having my old friends back, I will never truly be part of their group.
It’s not like they don’t include me. They invite me to do things with them sometimes, but not always. I like that they invite me – it makes me feel like I’m wanted. The problem isn’t really them. They’re all really nice people that I’d like to get to know better if I wasn’t so caught up in my own mental illness.
The problem is me. When I actually do things with the group, I have fun at first, but I always end up listening to how comfortable and loving they are towards each other. After that I quickly realize that I am not part of it. In the time that I wasn’t around, I fell too far behind to catch up. I’ll never be on the same level of friendship as they are, so why should I try?
Now, I know what you’re going to say – there are always other people that are closer to each other then they are to you. That doesn’t mean they don’t want you around.
Of course I know that. That doesn’t stop my mind from thinking that I am unwanted no matter what they say to me.
I love my old friends dearly. They’ve been with me since the beginning of college. But things have gotten weird this year, and it’s hard for me to describe how things have changed, but it’s obvious that they have. Nobody tells me anything anymore. When things don’t seem right with someone, I try and ask what’s wrong but I rarely get a real answer. I don’t get asked to do things or go places anymore.
I feel, perhaps, like I’m an afterthought.
I don’t want to be an afterthought. I don’t need to be the first thought, either, but it would be nice to be wanted again. It would be nice to have people want to tell me what’s wrong so I can somehow help.
I think living in each others back pockets, only interacting with each other, messed a lot of things up. I’ve talked about it in other blog posts so I don’t really feel like talking about it again. I’m pretty much just trying to say that things are fucked up and I’m tired.
It’s not as if I don’t have other friends. The problem is that all my other close friends (the ones that were still talking to me when things were going to shit) live pretty far off campus, so they’re not here during the weekend. Those friends are part of the reason I made it through those few weeks.
Whatever. I’m making strides and trying to get better. I’m trying to hang out with that group and be friendly and happy towards the people I don’t know. I’m branching out and making new friends too, but it’s almost the end of the semester. Mostly I’m just trying to make it through this last month, because I want to go home for the summer. I want to have a few relaxed months before the next chapter of my life begins.
I’m hoping that next year my cycle of sadness will be broken by my new responsibilities. I’ll have so much going on, and I’ll be able to interact with so many new people, that I think I’ll be okay in the end.
I really don’t have much else to say. I kind of went all over the place, so I’m ending it here. Sorry, I guess, but I needed to get this out there. Alright.