Above all the things I needed to get away from, I needed to get away from my guilt and my regret. More than anything else, I needed to be free from the ideas of shame. I knew there were secrets which I never dared to talk about. But at this point, feeling better was the only thing that mattered to me.
Therapy is a great idea but the connection between therapist and client is as crucial as the air we breathe and the food we eat. I never found a therapist that I connected with.
Medication helps as well, but my experience with mood stabilizing medication was unsuccessful. I didn’t like the side effects. I didn’t like the fact that I felt neither good nor bad—but just an unenthused, in-between sense of nothingness. Not happy, not sad, not anything, just existing.
The only way for me to dismantle my thinking, and understand the roots of my decisions, was to look at myself honestly, and trace myself back to where my depressive thinking began. In an effort for me to understand my personal selection and relationships; I looked back at my earliest memories of rejection.
I had to ask myself the following:
Why was it that I believed I was never enough?
Where did these ideas come from?
What was I most ashamed of?
Could it have been the first time I realized someone violated my friendship and stole something from me? Could it be the times when I was picked on —although jokingly, however, I took everything to heart?
In my case with depression, all roads lead back to rejection. And with regard to my anxiety, all roads lead to here as well.
My thinking was distorted. I took everything personally. I saw everything as a threat. I was tired of the ideas that “This is me,” and with all of my heart, I just wanted to feel better.
But how do I make this happen?
The truth is I have lived with depression for as long as I can remember. The truth is I lived a long time without understanding why or what depression is to me.
This is not to say that I did not understand the definition of depression. However, I needed to learn and understand what depression meant to me.
For some reason, there was a one-size-fits-all model based on my substance and alcohol abuse. As for depression, it seemed the only way to solve this was to throw medication at it, which I understood, but the medication was not helping me.
I still had my ideas and my thoughts. Insomnia and I have been on a first name basis for as long as I can remember. I was always on a heightened sense of alert. I was always uncomfortable and above all things, I always wanted to feel better. Hence the need to alleviate myself from me, which is why I got high, which is why I chose to drink at a young age, which is why I struggled with friendships and intimate relationships, which is why I took on the faults of my surroundings and the violations of my natural boundaries and associated this with my sense of worth and value.
Back when I was in rehab and learning about the “Disease” of alcoholism and addiction, I was told this is a disease of my thinking. But actually —no, it’s not.
This is a form of obsessive/compulsive disorder/addictive behavior disorder due to a buildup of certain cell forms in the brain.
I was told “Depression is not a problem with your character. It’s a problem with your chemistry,” however, nothing seemed to balance the imbalance. Medication was unsuccessful. Therapy was helpful and so was treatment. Talking to others helped but the problem was the rest of the day. What do I do when no one else is around?
As far back as I could see, I realized my discomfort came with my self-placement. This was a problem with my identity. I always felt lost in the sense that I was the odd man out—as if I were always the one on the outside looking in.
I used to classify people as “Velvet rope” people. To better understand this, I suppose it would be helpful to imagine yourself at a nightclub, somewhere in New York City. There is a huge crowd outside. The lights on the marquee flicker. There is a red carpet at the front door—everyone is dressed to impress, the pretty people, the wealthy, and the popular are here. However, there is no line for them. No, they just walk up to the club promoter that stands with a guest list on a clipboard and looks around in judgement for the “Cool” people on the red carpet inside an area which is penned off in front of the entryway by red velvet ropes.
Only a select few could walk up and get right in. All else had to stand outside to stomach the rejection and hope that eventually, somehow, someone on the inside creates an opening and the velvet ropes open up for them as well.
In my estimation of self, I saw myself as one of those people on the outside, always looking to get in, always looking for a piece of status, and always trying to insert myself most in places where I felt most uncomfortable.
I tried so hard to fit in. I tried too hard in fact, which is where the seed of my frustrations began. The connections in my thinking certainly led me astray. I struggled with something called Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria. I am sure there were other diagnoses that went unaddressed too.
I was never properly screened. So how would I know what my problem was? I never knew that I had learning disabilities until I was older. I just thought I was stupid.
I never knew what A.D.D. or A.D.H.D. was (which stands for Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder). I never knew what Opposition Defiant Disorder was either—but then again, I don’t know if I was any of these things, or all of the above.
All I knew was the voice inside of me, screaming to be heard, which is why I acted out, and sadly, the unheard voice in me was tired of being left out or unfit for the Velvet Rope crowd.
I wanted to be beautiful too. I wanted to be loved. I wanted to be wanted, and desired. Yet, at the same time, I never wanted the ones that wanted me, in which it went back to the old saying, “I would never belong to any club that would have ‘Me’ as a member.”
If I am being honest, I suppose my version of freedom is to be free of these connections. I wanted to be free of these ideas and free from the concerns of acceptance.
In my best description, depression is the feeling of being trapped inside oneself. Nothing is so pretty or beautiful—and even if it is, it’s not mine.
Depression to me is reaching as hard as one could for something, just to touch it, but no matter how I tried or how far I reached, I could never touch my dreams—they were always just a tiny bit beyond my reach —I could almost feel it, and I could almost touch it, but I could never quite reach far enough. Depression is the idea that try as I might, I will always come up short and be left out or simply unfit, or unwanted, and worst of all, unremarkable. This is an inward idea that folds me, it is the implosion of self—it is a series of ideas based upon internalized and personalized experiences, in which I blamed them all on me.
I blamed abuse on me. I blamed bullying on me. I blamed me for all of my sadness and uncomfortable feelings of awkwardness. I blamed me for my status (or the lack thereof) and I blamed me for not being beautiful by any means.
The truth of the matter is I rejected myself more than anyone else ever did. The truth is I never saw me as acceptable, so then how in the world would I believe anyone else would find me acceptable?
The more I detailed about this in my journals, the better I felt. There was a distraction from the moment. More importantly, there was a replacement of thought—I kept myself busy instead of allowing my thoughts to jump around from one extreme to another.
I learned that while replacing thought with action, I was able to channel my energy differently. I was also able to challenge my assumptions because once I examined them; I realized just how unrealistic my assumptions could be.
Put simply, I needed to stop killing myself on a daily basis. I needed to find other directions to turn; otherwise, I would just feel more of the same.
The truth is my distorted thinking led me to see a distorted version of myself. I allowed the events of my life to dictate and determine the course of my life, which, essentially meant that I gave up my control to the discomforts of my past, which were unalterable and often inaccurate events, held by my memory, based upon fear that something like that will always happen again.
There is a common thought about suicide in which people say he or she “Killed themselves.” The truth is I never wanted to die—at least, not exactly. I just wanted the pain to go away. I wanted to stop my thoughts from swirling around in my head.
My first attempt to stop the pain was at a very young age. I was only 8. Then there were the two other times, back when I was in treatment. The first time was more attention seeking; however, the second attempt was more deliberate. It was only fate that allowed me to survive.
This is the part that no one sees about us. This is the aftermath of bullying. This is the aftermath of sexual inappropriateness from someone that should have never done what they did.
This is the aftermath of rejection. This was my fear of being simply this; unnoticed and unremarkable, unlovable and unwanted. This is the false and inaccurate perception of self that no one speaks about—at least, no one speaks openly or honestly about this because, after all, to speak about this would only acknowledge the truth about this. Which is why I never wanted to go to therapy or talk about depression, because once I acknowledged this—then suddenly, all of this would become real.
I remember the last time I was bullied in school. I was in a special school where things like this were not supposed to happen.
The bully was named Mike. He liked to tell me he was a fan of Hitler. He liked to bully me and pick on me because I was smaller than him, when in reality Mike was equally as weak as me. He was just taller.
One day, Mike saw a news report on Charles Manson. The next day, Mike came in with a Swastika carved into his forehead to create shock and seem more threatening.
He invited me to see his forehead because he knew what a swastika meant—he also knew about me being Jewish (somehow), so Mike wanted to impose himself upon me.
Mike was not what one would call an exceptionally bright kid. In fairness, he grew up abused. He grew up in the system. He was in boys’ homes and foster care.
He also never knew that the reflection in the mirror makes things appear backwards, so when Mike carved the Nazi emblem in his forehead, the result was backwards.
When Mike pointed this out to me, as if to be a bully and pick on me, I asked him, “Why is the swastika backwards?”
And everyone laughed at him. All the other big kids that Mike would never dare to pick on or fuck with just laughed and laughed, which only meant Mike would have to pick on me harder.
I decided I was done. This is not the first time I contemplated murder. It is strange to me when people regard classroom shootings and murders, such as Columbine, as a new thing. The truth is when I felt tortured as a boy, I planned on blowing up schools and buildings in my town. I literally fantasized about me going down in a blaze of glory. I wanted the world to be horrified of me. I wanted the ultimate revenge.
Later that day between Mike and myself, I planned to sit next to him in my class, unfold my pocket knife and then shove the blade deep into the center of his throat.
Turned out, someone else took the seat before I could get to it. I was high this day, on several doses of things that need not be mentioned, however I was high enough to not feel any fear or pain. No, all I had was anger and revenge. I was perfectly painless enough that I dared the surface of my own flesh by carving and initialing satanic symbols on my arms. I was bleeding.
I entered the classroom to kill someone—I just never had the chance to get the jump off. Instead, I made a frightening spectacle of myself. I stood in front of the class, wild-eyes as a demon sent by the devil himself, possessed by an almost inconceivable hate.
When the teacher noticed my arms were bloodied from the emblems I carved in my skin (which I suppose were done to one-up Mike’s little display) he asked me if there was a problem.
And me, I responded by taking on the pose of Christ on the cross. I slumped my head to the side the same as Jesus did before the Roman pierced his side to see if Jesus was still alive.
I looked at the teacher with this demented grin and delivered the words, “Hail Satan!”
See, as bizarre as this may sound—this was just a display of anger. Everything about me was a display. But after years of feeling so lost and angry with no way out, I decided I couldn’t feel like this anymore.
I did not want to be a victim anymore or feel like one. More importantly, I did not want to volunteer to be a victim anymore because in more cases than none, there really are no victims, only volunteers—
And me, I was done volunteering.