I can’t be normal. Or can I?
I have a mental picture of what’s normal, and everywhere I look at myself, I fail to match the picture.
Maybe that’s why I’m depressed. Or maybe I’m depressed because I really should match the picture, try, and fail.
This is what my picture looks like: normal people can talk to other people without it sapping their energy. Normal people have jobs and pay bills. Normal people aren’t depressed and painfully introverted and awkward. Normal church people teach me that God answers prayers. Normal people get normal jobs and earn an average (and by this I mean a mean, which should be about $50,781, not poverty level) annual salary. With my above average charm, intelligence, good looks and education, it should be easy. R-I-G-H-T!
My picture of a normal healthy relationship doesn’t fit me. My wife and I seem much more combative than I would like at times, and much less loving than I would like at times when we’re actually getting along. It’s not abusive according to my mental picture of what that word means. But it feels abusive sometimes to me. We’re mentally abusive to one another. I fail to meet her expectations, I run out of energy to work on things, I can’t handle home repairs, especially water-related ones. I can’t sleep at night. She in turn fails to meet my expectations. It’s my fault really; she is only responding to me in kind.
I would like to be able to do everything she wants: fix things, finish things, make more money. I just can’t. People say “just” go get another job. I can’t. You ass holes make it sound so simple, like the solution to my problem is to just walk into another office and learn everything… just, like somehow it’s my fault I’ve been with the same company for years. I’m not unambitious. I’ve been passed over when I asked by idiots who aren’t here any more. I can fix this and that, just not everything. I look at a list of things that need to be done and I just can’t even start, because that list keeps having shit added to it and frankly it’s already overwhelming. The answer to all of this is money, or energy, or both, I have neither.
I have a picture of depression… Can I get on disability because I’m depressed? They would probably force me to try a medley of mind-fucking drugs. I don’t want those. Life is depressing, so I’m depressed. Wouldn’t it be better to fix the reasons why I’m depressed? Except I feel powerless to effect the changes. If I could choose, it would be fine. It’s not me making the choices.
I have a mental picture of the clock. Time is linear, advancing at exact, measured intervals. But my experience of time doesn’t match. When I’m busy doing something I dislike, t i m e s l o w s d o w n a n d 10:30 f e e l s l i k e i t s h o u l d b e 12:00. I’m sure of it. When I’m busy doing something I like, time compresses and I’ve exhausted my free time of 30 minutes that felt like 5.
Depression is a weird animal. People sit on a spectrum of depression, from “I can’t get out of bed” to “I’ll fight and keep trying to function through this shit, but I don’t like it. Or you.” I’m on the “fight and keep trying” side, so far. I don’t feel like I have a choice in that matter. I get up because I HAVE to. I think, if I didn’t have to, I’d still get out of bed, but when I wanted to, not when someone else required it of me. For me it comes down to who’s in control, and since that someone isn’t me, I’m a slave. I feel powerless to make my own choices, which is depressing. I don’t feel like quitting and “just” finding another job is the answer. What happens when it’s the same job for a different slave-driving tyrant? Or a worse job? Or if I can’t “just find another job” because there isn’t one available?
Sunday my pastor taught about a person who asks “why” and doesn’t like the answer. It’s not like that. I pray and I wait and there is nothing but stone, cold silence. When I do quit asking why after hearing silence, I ask what I should do, and I don’t like the continued silence. I seek for an opportunity that matches my qualifications, skill sets and so on, and I don’t like the rejection when I think I’d fit. I knocked on doors, emailed resumes, interviewed, and the resounding “no” was deafening. The devil I know with lower wages but with full time hours and modest-if-pricey benefits still seems better to me than the devil I don’t, of helplessness, part time, no benefits, and utter dependence on the goodness of the temp agencies to help me. Or going on unemployment and hoping someone picks my application off the pile.
I went fishing yesterday and there were no bites and it was windy and cold. It could only have been worse if it was raining. I went job searching and at least I got this meager one. The only thing that would be worse would be being unemployed. But when I tried for better I hit the wall every time, because I can’t find the doors, and the doors I did find were locked very securely. It’s like fishing when the fish aren’t biting at all. Eventually you run the emotional gamut of grief from shock and denial to acceptance, realizing you aren’t getting any fried fish dinner tonight unless you buy it from a store or restaurant.
Now think. If I were homeless and the only way to get food was from the kindness of belligerent strangers, who look down on you because you are in need, how would you feel after fishing all day? Those belligerent strangers are the spiritual advisors I am told I should listen to, who don’t lift a hand to help me but have all kinds of questions about my life, my spirit, and then tell me to “just” find another damned job. Those belligerent strangers are the HR departments who might as well have a big middle finger poster with red bold print “FUCK YOU” hanging on the door. They have the control, all the power, and they want me to take whatever meager handouts they ask, and they want to consume as much of my time doing so as possible, so I don’t have any time or control to find another lake to fish in. They have jobs and don’t give a flying fuck about my situation or needs, much less my wants. Why am I depressed? Because I have no control. If that’s supposed to be normal, then I’m completely normal and everyone should be depressed and if they’re not, they’re psychotic.
Those Christ-Followers and their pitiful “pat” answers to life’s problems. I guess they’re reading their Bible to find those answers, so whatever. Maybe it works for them. It just doesn’t work for me. “Wait on the Lord.” OK, no problem except what do I do while I wait? “Put God first.” Well I’m for damned sure not first. I can read and study my Bible all day, and Church on Sunday, while me and my family starve, and pray all the time until Jesus comes back. Who pays my rent and buys me food while I do all that “put[ting] God first?”
Is God a belligerent stranger with a “FUCK YOU” poster on the door to the Prayer Answering Department? Just to count the blessings you’re asking me if I’m counting, yes, I have a home, I have a wife and family, a job, a car, and many other blessings. What I don’t have is a single shred of fucking control over anything. And yes, life would be even harder without the blessings I’m counting. To continue with the fishing analogy, although it’s only partially, not completely, apt, I feel handicapped, homeless, helpless and hungry, and I feel the belligerent strangers are all walking by as quick as they can and ignoring me, including God. How am I supposed to feel?
I can still pray. I’d like to be my picture of “normal.” Or even better off than that. “Are you there, God? It’s me, [Deon].” Someone before me has asked that question because they were waiting for God before me, and feeling just a little desperate before me.
Ever felt hopeless and thought even God was ignoring you? What did you do?