Last year when I briefly tried out therapy, the therapist I saw gave me a nugget of useful insight after she diagnosed me with severe depression. She said that depression was the result of suppressing feelings to the point where when we want to feel something, we can’t. It started off simple for me, and probably for a lot of other people too. After dealing with a number of setbacks and emotional blows, I was tired of feeling all of these horrible things. So I decided I just wouldn’t. After all, I’m supposed to be in control of myself, right? So I just wouldn’t feel sad or lonely or angry anymore. Ha! You don’t control me anymore exes/fake friends/hiring managers who chose someone else! Your blows don’t hurt me! I’d smile and say I was fine and ignore the parts of my spirit that were crumbling.
But ignoring it didn’t help of course. Actually, when does that course of (in)action ever work? I kept making myself not feel anything bad until it got to the point where I didn’t. The only problem is that I couldn’t feel anything good either. It was as if my brain had packed up every emotion I was capable of and put them in storage. I hadn’t realized that I couldn’t pick and choose which feelings I wanted to experience; it’s an all or nothing type of thing.
For the longest, all I felt was boredom, disinterest and loneliness. I do have bouts of actual passion: happiness, anger, love. And even now as I go through this depressive episode I know how I should feel. Second interview for a job I really want: nervous. The fact that it’s very promising: excited. Birthday coming up soon: celebratory. I haven’t spent any quality time with my SO lately: romantic. The conversation with him last night: frustrated. But expressing what is going on inside my head? It feels so awkward! It’s as if I’ve forgotten every human interaction I’ve ever had and I’m imitating what I’ve seen others do. It’s so bad that I end up not doing anything in order to not look ridiculous. But is seeming distant and cold any better? Apparently not.
But during my adventures in depression I discovered something. Alcohol! Okay, I discovered alcohol in college, but while battling the numbness I stumbled upon the fact that I could emote with a little liquid courage. I already knew I became talkative (and giggly) when I was tipsy, but I started to emote more. It was easy to say what I felt and what I wanted after a little vodka or a couple glasses of wine. Sure, it usually came with with waterworks and may have been a little garbled, but it was there!
I didn't even fully realize that fact until this week. I found myself reaching for glass after glass, for something stronger and stronger. It's not because I enjoy being drunk. Actually, I'm not a fan of anything beyond tipsy, and the morning after always has me doubled over in pain. So why do it? Because sometimes I need to feel. I'm an emotional drunk. Some people drink to forget things. I drink to remember how to feel something. How to freakin feel human. Yeah, usually it's not a good feeling that I'm feeling, but at least it's something.
I know this isn't something I can continue. Maybe I'll be able to find a therapist who gets me and can help me find another way to express myself while I'm sober.