The Rough Ones

by kaelikennedy

Holy shit, did this week suck. I haven’t felt like myself all week. I’ve been so exhausted.

I wanted to try and write something deeper than what I’ve written the past few weeks. This is gonna be personal. I’m not sure how good or valuable it’s going to be.

I was talking to my therapist on Wednesday, about the situations and people I sometimes struggle with, and how the frustrating stuff for me tends to be black-and-white thinking situations. He pointed out that a lot of people who come in for therapy need help to think less simply and to see the shades of grey in between. He also pointed out, half-chuckling, that I most certainly do not struggle with shades of grey. We agreed that, if anything, I get too caught up in them. Sometimes I feel a lot of internal pressure to understand things in the most nuanced way possible, and in doing so, I get overwhelmed. I doubt a situation which leads me to doubt my feelings which leads me to doubt my motivation which leads me to doubt my identity (ugh).

He also pointed out that the one thing I do seem to see in black-and-white terms is myself. At the core of it, I don’t believe I’m a valuable person. People can tell me otherwise (and have) time and time again, but I sit closest to my faults, so any evidence otherwise feels disingenuous at worst and uninformed at best. It makes sense when you arrive at this conclusion through my doubt cycle. Anxiety and doubt are handy this way; if I’m told it’s 99.9% likely that something isn’t my fault, I cling to the 0.01% like a liferaft. The only person whose nuances I can possibly understand entirely are my own, so I pace their halls like I’m locked in.

In the session before this one, he pulled out the DSM and read to me the clinical symptoms for diagnosing a major depressive episode. I was told in high school I had dysthymia, which is in some ways minor depression, but I also always felt like there was some vague dark thing lurking inside me, making me worth less than other people, making me “broken.” When my therapist read me the symptoms used to diagnose major depression, and I identified with the requisite amount (and a few more were questionably true of me), I felt a little peaceful. We talked about how this is just a list of symptoms, which explain what’s “going on” right now; it’s not what’s wrong with me, it’s one of the things I am struggling with right now.

As I was about to finish my session this week, my therapist and I agreed that we were leaving off at a pretty bad point. He asked me to please take a half hour to an hour to care for myself, to read a book, make myself some coffee, listen to some music. We have agreed that therapy homework is not an appropriate way for me to make progress, so this is the first time he has ever asked anything specific of me. But I didn’t do it. I had two or three relatively time-sensitive things I felt I needed to do, and I thought I could do them and then collapse at the end. I felt like I didn’t deserve a break when there were other things, things that weren’t flawed like me, and thus deserved to be done. I decided I didn’t deserve a break for just feeling bad, that in black-and-white terms I would be selfish if I needed a break. There is a more complex thought process somewhere in there, but I’m struggling to express it.

It made me feel worse, much worse, to not give myself a break. The past few days have felt scary and awful. I couldn’t get out of bed, and when I did, I felt like I was on autopilot. I don’t feel like myself, whatever that means, and I’m going to have to work pretty hard to figure out how to reason myself into giving myself a break sometimes.