Becky is my roommate. We’ve known each other since childhood; she was the social butterfly, always hanging around with someone I knew, and gradually we just ended up together.

Becky and I are not close. In fact, although she’s always been acquainted with people I know, I’ve tried to avoid her as much as I can since we first met. We’re complete polar opposites (in and of itself not a problem) who bring out the worst in one another. But Becky has always been there. When my childhood best friend died, Becky was the one who tucked me into bed for days at a time, brought me chocolate and junk food, and introduced me to video games. When my father-in-law started emotionally abusing me, Becky stepped up and took me on wild shopping sprees, taught me about the glory of grilled cheese, and helped me ignore how painful it was. And last year, when I really needed someone to be there for me, to slow my anxious brain, to curb my depression, and help me start getting my life back together, it was Becky who showed up.

In the beginning, living with Becky – not for the first time – was nice. We were getting on well. She’s quiet, which at first is always a great thing when you live with someone, and we lived together like two ships passing in the night. You could argue I didn’t even realise we were living together for a couple of months; she showed up to offer her assistance and never left.

Becky’s thoughtful. She’ll leave me little things to show she’s thinking of me. A chocolate bar. A new DVD. A soft blanket that she knows I would enjoy snuggling and taking a nap under. A new video game. She knows when I’m feeling low and is ready with a warm hug and a takeaway if I need it.

On this side of the coin, Becky is a perfect friend and roommate. Let me show you the other side.

Becky’s not nurturing. She doesn’t cook (though, neither do I), she doesn’t clean, she hates taking care of plants, she forgets to take the trash out for days at a time. She’s a slob! She doesn’t only refuse to clean 99% of the time, she also actively makes disgusting messes that she leaves around. She’s lazy. So, so, so lazy. She will put off absolutely everything until the last minute. Everything. Even things that are really important, like taxes or healthcare. She’s disgusting. Sometimes it’s a struggle to get her to brush her teeth every day, or take a shower. She hates spending time with other people and refuses to leave the house for weeks at a time. She’s incapable of managing her money – spending wildly and then panicking about not having enough for necessities like food and rent.

Becky is mean. Becky is mean in the gentlest, most manipulative way possible. Becky is mean in the way that makes it impossible for you to leave her. She will build you up, and build you up, and then bring you down with a single blow. She can spend days – weeks, even! – supporting you at your lowest, and at the point where you see daylight again, she will softly remind you: “you’re a piece of shit.” She will be the first one to support you, make you a hot chocolate, listen to your woes, and right at the point of getting over it, she’ll let you know it was all true and you’re not worth it.

This is how it goes with Becky. This is how it has always gone and will always go with Becky. After a year of living together, where we were once peacefully cohabiting, often forgetting the other was there, we’re now living in a nightmare of our own making. Unable to bear the sight of one another, unable to leave for fear of being alone. We despise one another, and yet sometimes it feels like we would die without each other.

Becky is my depression, and the space we share is my head.

She hasn’t always been here, or lived here. She’s been a constant visitor since I was a child, and as a child it’s easy to look at Becky (and the first four paragraphs) and see a friend who is comforting you, protecting you, and supporting you when nothing and nobody else seems to. But age and wisdom are magical things, and along with memories of times in my life when I didn’t have Becky around, I can see her “gifts” more clearly:

  • Obesity
  • Poverty
  • Laziness
  • Self-loathing
  • Denial

Becky isn’t a friend, she’s a leech. My life’s goal at this point is getting rid of Becky, but Becky doesn’t want to go.

We’ve been bickering for months, but the last two weeks… Wow. She knows I want her gone, and she knows I’m working hard to make it happen, so she’s digging her claws in. The last two weeks, I’ve been the most depressed that I can remember being in a long time. Often, all I do is sleep and eat, and nothing else, for days at a time. Yep, all those things about how disgusting Becky is? They’re happening here. Self-preservation has officially left the building.

I’m trying to force the willpower I need in to myself, but it’s just not there, and so for now I’m just hanging on. I’m literally doing as much as I can, now I can only keep it up and hope it takes.

I hope.

The Battle Rages

I haven’t written a post in two days. It’s been a “trying” week. On the one hand, I’ve a million things to talk about and remind myself of, and on the other hand there’s a monkey on my back whispering, “why bother? Your thoughts are worthless.”

The battle for me – as in, for control of my own thoughts and actions/reactions – continues to wage on.

I was explaining to my therapist on Tuesday that for someone with depression, it is an internal battle; a battle to like yourself, a battle to believe that good things can happen to you, and (hardest of all) a battle to give control back to your rational side. I liken it to having a younger sister, toddler age, constantly with me and every time I have a thought, so does she, except she has no impulse or volume control and so her thought becomes a relentless, screaming stream of noise through which I can’t be heard. I know that the rational, calm, happy me is there but I can’t find her through all the noise and confusion.

The most important lesson that I’ve taken from the last three weeks of battle, is probably patience. The repetitions of “it’s OK, breathe, you can do this,” made me feel a bit ridiculous in the beginning but I’m learning that I need someone to say that to me – to jolt me out of my own thought vortex – and if I’m the only person here, then it has to be me. And really, rational me says, isn’t that what it’s really about? Learning that you can do it, that you can be the support you need to live a happy and fulfilling life. Patience is (gradually) helping me to separate myself from the toddler that is depression.

I hope my motivation picks up again tomorrow. I have missed blogging, I just find myself in a place where I don’t have enough willpower to start writing. It’s not a pleasant place to be, and that in turn fuels the feelings that brought me here, so hopefully doing small but significant things like blogging and cleaning today, can move me away from negativity long enough to find that missing willpower.

Good night, friends, and I hope to see you tomorrow.

Reminder #22

Just because you’ve fallen down, doesn’t mean you can’t stand back up a little wiser. Use failure as an opportunity to grow, not an excuse to shrink.

Reminder #21

Think about all of those travel adventures you drool over online. You can do those! Do some work now and you can do anything you want in the future.

Me And My Side-Tracked Brain

My brain works in ways that I think are weird. I haven’t always thought that my mental processes were strange, but obviously growing up and meeting people expanded my range of comparison and, for the most part, other people didn’t seem to struggle like I did/do. A perfect example of this is my train of thought (which is also the reason for this specific blog post).

For as long as I can remember, my brain has seemed to process information faster than everyone else. Now, some people would read that and think that I’m bragging but please, hear me out.

Learning was really difficult when I was younger (and to this day, if I’m honest), because all of the information that went into my brain was immediately followed by a succession of related thoughts. Take history for example:

Teacher: “And then the Duke of Buckingham led a revolt with the aim of placing Henry Tudor on the throne through his mother’s connection to the royal family.”
My brain: “Oh, that’s interesting, but doesn’t that mean his mother and father are related? How far removed were they? I can’t work it out… Is that why Henry VIII was so weird? Wait, no, I’m sure I read that it’s because his brain was being eaten by a STD. Which STD’s eat the brain? Should I know this? Should I feel stupid that I don’t know this? Who can I ask?”

By the time this internal conversation is over, I’ve maybe missed several follow-on facts, and have usually forgotten the first fact, but in essence I suppose the conversation is never over – it happens constantly, through every situation in life. Even now, I’m writing this and half way through sentences, the line I’m planning in my head splits off down a hundred different forks in the road. It can be hard to manage or understand, especially as a shy teenager who’s afraid to admit to needing help, and even more especially in a household where achievements are ignored and failures are placed on pedestals as examples. I still struggle with it today; it affects everything from my work to my social life. Imagine being friends with someone whose eyes glaze over as they go off into their own brain while you’re talking… It can’t be easy for my friends and family.

It’s not all bad. In some cases, my greatest sparks of inspiration and accomplishment have come to me as side-tracked thoughts during a different conversation or situation. I have friends who are fascinated by this part of my brain, and who find it more amusing than hurtful when they talk to me about their personal lives, and I’m off somewhere else wondering whether the turbines in plane engines all turn the same direction. It’s not ideal, and I do have to admit to being frustrated by it when everyone else around me seems to find it so much easier to just follow one train of thought at a time, but my “quirk” isn’t always a burden.

I’m not sure if I consider this quirk a good or bad thing. Only one person has ever been rude to me about it, and said that I made them feel like I’m not interested in what they’re saying (which I can understand, completely), but he was kind of a jerk anyway so I’ve always wondered if he just said it to make me feel bad about myself. In other words, although I’m hesitant to say I’m OK with it, it’s also not the end of the world and it’s one of the few things I’m able to not destroy myself over.

The reason I thought to write about this today is because it is the reason I don’t have anything else to blog about. Quite simply: I generally have dozens of ideas a day about blog posts that I think would be interesting and, wouldn’t you know it, by the time my brain has stopped running its own labyrinth, the idea is gone. I’ve taken to keeping a notebook with me that I can write ideas in when they come to me, but so far I haven’t had much luck stopping my own thoughts long enough to remember to write it down.

I’ve always wondered if this trait of mine is depression/anxiety driven, and I suppose I’ll find out soon enough (fingers crossed). I’ll get there in the end, but damn if I don’t sabotage myself along the way!