I haven’t written in a while. I’ve been on a personal journey of sorts. The oft-repeated quote from Bilbo Baggins reminds us what a dangerous thing it is stepping out of one’s door. Once the door is open it can’t be shut and even though I’ve stopped my global wandering, I have yet to come out of the wilderness of my own soul.
I’ve known for a long time that I’m broken. I’m actually quite severely damaged and have been for a long time. Repeated trauma has done a number on me and just when I think I’ve recovered, it comes back to haunt me. That’s what trauma does, you see. Yet I survive. It’s what I do best. Only recently have I discovered that surviving isn’t living. I’ve been too afraid to allow myself that joy.
By using the term “broken” and describing my own mental and emotional health issues as “brokenness”, I don’t mean to imply that there is something wrong with me. There is indeed something wrong, but that doesn’t mean that I’m weak or that I need “saving”. I’m damaged for sure, but I’m not “damaged goods”. With time, I can pick up my own pieces and, with the proper love and support, I can begin to heal.
For many people it’s a deep shame to be broken or even to think about oneself in that way. Therapists, our families, and even our dearest friends seem to think that there’s something wrong with us; that being broken means that we’re being childish and, if we only shook ourselves of the dust of our conditions, we would somehow be “okay”. They want us to drug ourselves to normalcy, as though introducing something foreign into our already damaged selves will somehow make us better.
I’m not completely knocking drugs. For some, they are sincerely needed and some people cannot function without them. However, I am a human being. I am complex and I am not something that can be easily fixed like a machine. I also think that there are many “pill pushers” who are content to prescribe first and ask questions later.
We live in a society of quick fixes, and boot strap pullers and the fact that some of us find it difficult to “accentuate the positive” seems to grate on the nerves of those others. We punish people for needing help, for being sad and depressed, for expressing their feelings, for being themselves. We’re blamed for our condition as though it was something that we wanted and actively strove for. “You could overcome it, if you wanted to” they tell us. It’s no wonder that people don’t talk about what’s going on and resist seeking professional help.
Some of us are broken and it doesn’t mean that we’re defective or “wrong”. It means we’re hurting. We don’t need you to fix us. We need your support and your love (and possibly some baked goods). Most of all, we need your patience. It’s hard enough dealing with our internal emotions and thoughts without worrying that our support systems are going to fall apart while we’re struggling to find solid ground. If we share some of our pain with you, it’s not that we’re trying to dump on you. It’s because we trust you to listen, not give advice; HEAR US. And maybe hug us, too. Most of all, be honest. If you’re too busy dealing with your own shit and can’t offer support, then say so (nicely, please). Maybe put some resources in our hands before walking away or hanging up the phone so we can get the support we need. And while we may understand your feelings, don’t get pissed if we’re a little hurt. It’s hard for all of us. Let’s talk about it.
I’m okay with being broken. I’m not okay with the idea that that’s the way I have to be forever. While the ongoing roller coaster of depression I experience is a family trait (fuckin’ genes) and has been with me 15 years (and I expect, for the rest of my life), I don’t think of it as something that has to destroy me. It hurts and it’s maddening and I don’t have control over when or where I get triggered. What I have control over is my own actions when I am under. I can ride the wave instead of letting it ride me. I can embrace my pain and depression. I can name it and make it mine. I can then look it in the eye and proclaim mastery over it. Can I make the monster that lives inside me my friend and ally?
That’s where I am now. How can I heal my depression, my brokenness, myself? Because it’s not happening outside of me. It’s inside of me–my genes, my blood, my soul. Taking antidepressants could possibly fix the chemical wiring in my brain, but it doesn’t fix my soul. My sadness or my moodiness or even my sometimes spontaneous crying isn’t the problem. I’ve always been that way. I dare say even my occasional suicidal ideation isn’t the problem (though it certainly isn’t good). But it is a symptom. Modern medicine isn’t equipped to with issues beyond the physical, chemical or cellular levels of human beings. Modern medicine isn’t equipped to heal our souls. You can’t touch a soul, or take it’s temperature and you can’t put a bandaid on it. So, how do you heal it?
I am broken, but not shattered. So, how do I begin to reincorporate the pieces into the whole? How can I heal myself without losing myself? That is to say, I have never been this cheerful, happy-go-lucky person. I don’t want to change my personality. And I’m actually not even trying to excise the depression. How can I when it is a part of me? I’m talking about finding ways to truly live and love and not just survive. I want to live. With all the possible meanings contained therein.
I hope that it is obvious that these are my thoughts and opinions on my own mental and emotional health issues and my struggle with them. Also, what I’m describing is currently active within me. It has been my journey, my personal sessions with my therapist and my own reflections that brought these things up for me. I don’t think that everyone with depression or mental illness is the same and I am not attempting any kind of across the board prescription for handling these problems. I don’t have any answers. Not a one. That’s not why I’m writing. I’m writing because I don’t.
In an upcoming post, I want to explore this idea of “naming and claiming” as well as battling and embracing my inner self.