daylog. Skip now, or forever hold your peace.
No, seriously, skip. This is important-only-to-me depression logging. I put it here in case others who are depressed can derive any use from it, either as a warning or just as a comparative experience.
At my most recent session, my therapist broached the subject of dependency with me. We had spoken about several things that had happened to me in the past few weeks while he and I couldn't meet due to his vacation and my having to leave town for a week-plus to assist a family member.
He constructed a list of the various things I'd done in the past couple of weeks, including that trip, and went over it. There were several things on that list which involved a fair amount of personal effort or would likely have (in his estimation) resulted in a notable amount of annoyance on my part. His question, which was a reasonable one, was the following. Why did I manage to get this list of (relatively) onerous tasks done, when I am currently unable to take several seemingly simple steps to improve my own condition?
The answer, I managed to get across to him, was a dichotomy in my approach to tasks. If a task or action is an obligation to another, or if another person's well-being or even comfort depends on my performing a task, I can do that task - I can declare I'll do it and then follow through with action. If, however, a task or action is related solely to my own comfort or 'maintenance,' I am unable to motivate to do them. As a result, my room is a mess, I haven't fully moved into my apartment despite living there two and a half years, I don't go to the gym even though I need to for immediate health reasons, etc. etc.
We spent some time trying to work that answer. Why? How did that come about?
I don't know how it came about, in the causal sense. I know it came on slowly but inexorably as I slid down into the depression I'm now in. I used to be able to motivate myself to do things by saying things like "this will be good for you," or "try it; it might make you feel better" or "this will be fun/pleasurable" or even "every functional person does this." No longer. I think that as I continued to slide into depression, those motivating phrases started to feel more and more like hollow lies - because even though I did those things, I never did feel better or improve. Instead I continued to sink.
He asked me, then, if there was anyone who depended on me.
I thought about that for a while, and said "Nope." When he pressed, I elaborated as follows. There are many people in the world who, I think, would be upset if I were to vanish off the face of the planet. There are people whose general 'plate of joy' would decrease if they weren't able to interact with me as a friend. There are family members and friends who would feel actively bad that I'd gone. But there's no-one who depends on me (other than perhaps my cats, and they'd be adopted).
This was a slightly interesting concept to me as I gave it voice. Nobody needs me. On the one hand, that is a fantastic freedom. But on the other, it's wildly depressing. I think that as I've aged, I've come up against the inevitable realization (at a deep level, not an intellectual level) that really, the world doesn't need me. I'm not important on a grand scheme. I never will be. I don't think this is an 'uncommon' realization. But I think that one of the ways that other people deal with this is to take stock of the personal connections or dependencies that they have. While the world in abstract might not even miss them, there are children or spouses/significant others whose world would be severely rocked by their departure.
My therapist then asked me if I thought part of my problem was that nobody needed me. I said perhaps, although it sounded really, really arrogant. I think that part of my despondency arises from the fact that at no point in my life have I formed a bond stronger than that which means people would be 'upset but not severely inconvenienced' by my passing. I'm not saying I don't have close friends; I do. But in nearly every single case, those friends have immediate families, now, and I'm (properly) an 'outer ring' concern in their lives. I have family members who would miss me, but again, they have their own lives.
I'm basically lonely.
Selfish as it is, and as unrealistic as it is, I want to be needed by choice rather than as an 'expected condition' - "You're my son, of course I'd miss you" or as a non-critical loss - "We're friends, your leaving would make me sad, but I have my own critical relationships to manage." I think people replace youthful attitudes of self-importance or expected self-importance, both potential requirements for certain kinds of mental development, with more 'realistic' attachments as they grow older. They meet significant others, even if they don't keep them. They become part of relationships that have more of a basis than nice conversation and "hey, that's a really cool person to spend some time with every now and again."
I never did that.
I'm not going to claim that "I never got to do that." I had opportunities. I can see a bare few of them in my memory, ones that I missed; I am assuming that there were many more I wasn't even aware of that I passed up. But I don't know why I passed them up - I can think of several instances where even minutes after what in hindsight was a perfectly comprehensible chance at connecting with someone (and no, I don't always mean sex) I found myself alone and furious with myself for being an idiot. I always got past those moments by telling myself "Don't force it. It'll happen for you."
That's a lie. It won't necessarily happen for you unless you want it to, and unless you're willing to make it happen. If you can't do that (as I cannot, for reasons I don't know and therefore can't fix) then the path is a pretty bleak one.
I'm many many miles down that path. I can't go back; that's the nature of time and aging. I've lost sight of the paths to either side of this one, and I don't see any turns ahead of me.
And nobody would be seriously inconvenienced if I vanished.
That's the scariest bit. I think that if I had a child, or a spouse/partner, I would be able to endure a much greater burden of other depressive factors - because of my tendency (mentioned way back there) to 'suck it up' if the task/action is for someone else's comfort/safety, or if I've incurred an obligation to someone else to do it. I don't know if I'd be any fun to live with, but I would be able to draw strength from that part of my character which Is. Not. Allowed. To. Let. People. Down.
Drifting in my own little pool, though - there's much much less of a 'safety net.' This is why I worry myself, sometimes. And all I really have to occupy myself is thoughts of the years gone past, and the roads not taken - with no picture, real or imaginary, of any roads to come other than the one I'm on, the one that slopes down gently but inexorably, and fades away dead straight out of view ahead.
I guess I can let myself down. Because the one constant in the above rambling crap is that, apparently, my own comfort/health/safety doesn't matter to me - or if it does, it can't compete with the many many years of experience telling me that doing things is pointless because it won't help. And I'm tired. I realize I've spent five years, or maybe more, 'doing things' not because I got anything out of them but simply because I told myself I had to - some sort of residual behavior pattern. Socializing, meeting people, doing things that are supposed to be 'fun', basically anything other than working to survive and sitting zombie-like looking at the wall - all of that has an energy cost, and unlike my life up to five or so years ago, none of it gives me any energy back. It's just pure cost with no return.
And I'm tired.