A few correspondents have suggested that I seem to have lost myself these past few weeks. I was going so well, they say, being so positive--and now I am even classifying myself as a depressive again? Writing such miserable, self-indulgent drivel?
Hmm. Well, I don't see it that way, though I know there's a visible difference. Because the lessons I learned while I tried to pick myself up from the floor this summer hold true. They just might need to be applied in a different way than I thought.
I was so depressed after my relationship finished I went a little crazy. Started to identify too much with the philosophising of a Christian work colleague who seemed to have the capacity, because of her faith, to deal with much worse than a relationship breaking up: she, after all, had seen a parent and her best friend die within six months of each other and was still standing, still smiling, still moving forwards. When I asked her how she managed it she said, "God."
So I tried to get back to God to stop me feeling that everything was f*cked, everything was finished. I prayed, I asked God to forgive my (many) sins, I told myself I forgave everybody who had ever hurt me (like it's that easy), I imagined, as she does, that the terrible feelings I harboured signified the presence of unclean spirits or even the Devil at work inside me trying to prevent me from a true reconciliation with God. I let myself believe that all you have to do is drive them out of your body in the name of Jesus and everything would be better.
I even put away all my Buddhas and considered (though thankfully I never did it) throwing away the journals I have written every day--until the advent of the internet-- since 1986.
It wasn't her making me do this, it was my own desperation to find a solution to my depression. Can you think of any greater proof of self-hatred than trying to destroy every trace of the person that you were--which is effectively what I was doing? The only way you can be happy is by not being you anymore? As revoltingly contented as I may have sounded at times over the summer (and sometimes it was a lie), I was actually committing a kind of slow and cowardly suicide.
But I couldn't do it. I couldn't con myself that this new person was me, or that the philosophy (or theology) that underpinned it--as attractive as it was--made complete sense.
My periodic depressions aren't caused by unclean spirits, or the Devil. There may be a Satan, but he's not going around putting people into bad moods so they diss their friends or take the razor from the cupboard. Satan's too busy convincing people that their problems are over because they have a copy of the Bible. Satan's too busy encouraging people to hate homosexuals (Christians say that don't hate gays, but they hate what they do--which seems a very hypocritical and intellectually and morally spineless distinction to me). Satan's too busy judging the neighbour because he's having an affair, gossiping about work colleagues, backbiting, being certain, exercising power, invading foreign countries. If I have four or five weeks out of every year when I have to take to the sofa and cry all day and half the night it's because I have a chemical imbalance in my brain that makes such measures necessary and unavoidable. It's because I have a world of repressed anger and emotional constipation I need to deal with.
Anyway, my Christian phase didn't last very long (thank God). I actually got crazier the more I tried to embrace it: you can't (as Janey pointed out), dismantle a personality that quickly without things getting ugly. And they did. I reached a point, recently, of feeling a despair worse than anything I have ever experienced because I had none of the old supports that provided such a crutch for me in the dark times prior to being "saved". Something had to break.
And it broke. Boy, did it break. I got pissed, I accepted that I was heartbroken because I'd lost the woman I loved (which I'd been trying to deny all summer), I brought my Buddhas back out, and I destroyed my friendship with the Christian woman by telling her the truth, at least as I saw it in my half-crazed, probably distorted mind. Now I am writing poetry again (that had gone), and I feel a sense of true balance in myself spiritually and emotionally for the first time in months. Even if it does sound like I'm ready for the hemlock.
Oh, and my former friend is going around telling lies to everyone who knows me. Which makes me wonder how real the message was that I couldn't take on as my own.