Masking Depression

Another sad update from the pits of depression.

Lately I have been consumed by one thought: I want more than anything to be better, to be myself again. I want to be able to laugh and smile and enjoy things again. I want to be able to sleep through the night. I want to be able to go through a day without wanting to die.

But I am not there yet. There have been a few days that I have felt like that, and that should be giving me hope. However, it has the opposite effect. I feel that I am slipping further and further away from those days of being myself again.

I have given up on myself in a lot of ways. I don’t believe that my life will be good again, I don’t believe that I will ever have fun again. I don’t believe that there is anything in my future to look forward to. I want to believe those things so much, but I can’t. Believing in those hopeful things feels like lying, and I can’t tolerate lying.

I can sense that people around me are beginning to give up on me, like I have given up on myself. Sometimes I can tell that they are concerned about me, and sometimes they offer to help me. But they don’t know how, and I don’t even know how they could help me. I can tell they want me to get better but are starting to think that it is not possible too. I can feel them starting to move on with their lives and forget about me. I feel that I will soon become just another statistic, a data point to show a lost life due to mental illness.

I do not want that to happen. I want things to change, I want things to be good again. I have no idea how to do that.

So I have started putting on my ‘mask’ anytime I am around other people. I put on my mask that makes me seem happy and ok. I use the mask to make myself controlled and consistent enough so that I can go to work on bad days. The mask keeps me from melting into a puddle, and keeps me from screaming at small problems like the wind blowing in my face. I used to be able to keep the mask off, but now it is a necessity.

I have to hide my true feelings because I know that people are sick and tired of hearing it. When someone asks “How are you?”, the mask forces me to answer with “Good”. But the truth is something more like “Absolutely horrible in every way, I feel the crushing weight of the universe on my eyelids every morning and can barely keep them open because all I want to do is go to sleep forever.” But that is not an answer you can ever really give.

People like the mask, and I often think that they like it instead of me. I feel that no one would like the real me anymore, and I can’t blame them. I don’t even like the me that I am now (although I have rarely ever liked myself).

I used to have friends and some family that I could be genuine with, people who never expected me to wear the mask and who accepted me without it. But now, anytime I try to take it off and be open with them, they clam up and start to freak out. They run away from me when I try to share or resist me. That makes me feel so much worse. I don’t want or expect them to fix me, I just want someone to actually listen. I don’t even care if they do nothing other than say “Yeah” and “Uh-huh” in-between my sentences. I don’t even care if they care or not. I just want the dignity of another human being caring about me enough to let me explain how I feel. And not to have them interrupt me to try to correct me or try to solve my problems as I explain them. I just want to take off the mask and share actual honesty with someone. I used to be able to that, but now I can tell that people are too worried about me. They judge me too much. So I have to keep all those awful feelings inside of me, bottle them up and hope that they don’t leak their toxins into my bloodstream.

I hate when I have to take the mask off at the end of the day. It feels as if my face is rotting underneath the mask. Every time I take it off, it smells and feels a little more rank. I am unsure who I am without that mask now. I keep trying to wear the mask constantly, but I can’t fall asleep with that thing on. But then when I take it off, I realize how bad of shape I really am in and how I can’t even talk to anyone about it and I get too scared. I am constantly terrified. I don’t know how much longer I can keep up this fight, I am running out of options and out of time. Something has to change soon.

 

Finally some good news: I wrote that post last week, and between then and now some huge things have happened. I saw my psychiatrist, who said that I could be a good candidate for a procedure called Trans-Cranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). It is a treatment used to help when anti-depressants have not really worked very well and there has not been much recovery. The process is basically powerful magnets that send waves into the brain to help reactivate parts of the brain that do not function well in depressed patients. It also has been shown to help with anxiety, OCD, and improve autism as well (still not entirely sure how that one works).

I found out my insurance approved it and would pay 99% of the huge amount (I won’t say how much exactly, but that it cost about as much as my college degree). I spent the last remnants of my medical savings account to pay for it because it seemed like a great option. I am hoping that it works. I am currently on Day 4 and so far all it has done is give me headaches and make me very very sleepy. But those are perfectly normal side effects so far.

 

PS: Apologies if my posts here have drifted a bit. My intent was to keep this blog about autism related things and life stories/perspectives and all that, but my life has been totally taken over by this depression. I feel like a lot of my depression is because of my autism, or at least exacerbated by it. And depression is a very common problem for those with autism, so it technically isn’t too far off base.

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