Saturday, December 09, 2006

Akin to Drowning

They say that you shouldn’t jump in after a drowning person, that even the strongest swimmer could die while attempting to rescue that person. Drowning people pose a risk not just to themselves but also to the potential rescuer because in their panic it’s possible that they will pull you down with them.

Depression is a lot like drowning. Your pain and inability to “make” yourself happy can pull down the person you are in a relationship with. Their natural instincts are to jump in and save you, because they love you. Despite the fact that in most cases they really have no idea what to do, and are not qualified to help you on their own. After a while they become tired, frustrated, and confused when all their efforts produce very little results. They take it personally, like it is a personal failing on their part because they couldn’t “make” you happy.

If it were just a matter of sheer will power, as a person with clinical depression I would have made myself ecstatic a long time ago. I really don’t enjoy feeling suicidal for the better part of my day, or watching the person I love hurting because of me. At times I think obsessively over what it is that causes me to be this way and why I can’t be happy- do I even know what happy is?

After bearing witness to the slow and painful breakdown of my relationship with Mr. Intellectual due in large part to my depression, I find it difficult to form new relationships. I never want to go through something like that again and feeling responsible for bringing down another human being.

When I look into the future, I see myself alone. Through somewhat twisted logic I just don’t feel right asking someone to take me on, it just doesn’t seem fair. When I’m alone I can cope somewhat better. It’s easier to control my environment and I don’t have the external pressure of living up to expectations or of maintaining a relationship. Each and every relationship I try to sustain brings up this point again and again.

I really don’t have the answer on how to fix this, or what anyone should do. My solution of course, really isn’t a solution at all, but rather an avoidance of the problem all together.


Anonymous said...

Hi, Jane. Thank you so much for your honesty. I truly hope one day you will be clear...

I met a man about a year ago who is clinically depressed (and NOT on meds). He spent the bulk of this past year pushing me away, though we did share a deep connection. It was most frustating to me, as you can imagine. He did finally tell me that the reason we are not together as seriously as I would like is that most days it was hard enough for him to get out of bed, and that the normal ups and downs of a relationship were too much for him to bear.

I, of course, really internalized this, and thought it was a bit of a lame blow-off. Until I read your comments. And they have validated and crystalized a bit what he must go through on a daily basis. Your prose has really helped me to heal from this aborted relationship, as now I do see there is nothing I could have said or done to change our reality. As ultimately, it was not about me.

Thank you for the gift. Again, I hope one day you find relief and peace.

Bright blessings.

Jane Canuck said...

Thank-you so much for your comments. I'm sorry you had to go through the experience from the other end of the relationship, but I'm grateful that my words have helped you in the end. Mr. Intellectual said once that he felt like he was dating the depression, not me.

I know he still blames himself, which is why I put this out there. I'm hoping that one day he'll realize he was an amazing individual who blessed my life in more ways than he knew, but nothing he did was going to help me.

I also know on an intellectual level that the reasoning I gave sounds completely ridiculous, but in reality it's true. I have a hard enough time handling myself on a daily basis, let alone involving another person in that relationship.

~ Jane