One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

If you suffer, you’ll know this feeling.

There are a thousand metaphors I could write for depression, I seem to come up with a new one every day.

Recently, I thought up this one: depression is like the hurdles. We’re on a path that only lets us go forward, there’s no turning around. Every now and then, an obstacle appears in the form of a hurdle. We see it, it gets closer, we see others leap over them like they’re nothing. But those who suffer from a mental illness stress over that hurdle, it becomes bigger as we get closer, and eventually, we crash. We run right into it and we fall to the ground. It hurts, we’re bruised, it’s a struggle to get up again, knowing that there’s going to be yet another hurdle that we’ll have to jump over. So why don’t we just stay on the floor? Save ourselves the humiliation, not only from others who are so far ahead but from ourselves.

That’s how I’ve been feeling for a few weeks now. I am in a better place than I was at the start of the year, but I remember how I felt during those times, and I feel myself going back to them. Every time I start to feel better, that I believe things are starting to go my way and I have some semblance of order and plan to my life, I get knocked back down to my hands and knees.

Sometimes it’s my own fault. Actually, most of the time it’s my own fault. I find myself repeating the same mistakes I was making months ago, trying to take matters into my own hands, trying to do the right thing regardless of the opinions of others, trying to be the master fixer of all the problems in the world when in reality, not everything can be fixed. More importantly, not everything needs to.

I’ve spent so long dwelling on my own issues, that when someone comes along with their own, I’ll do everything in my power to help them. And sometimes that sees me crossing boundaries and overstepping. I have trouble restraining myself, especially when it comes to people I care about.

I often think about the state I was in during my time at university, or whenever I felt really bad. If someone wanted to help me through what I was going through at that time, I would have snatched their arm off at the offer. I project that idea onto others. But sometimes they just need a plan, not for me to build the entire thing for them.

I have immense trouble validating myself. Accepting myself, my condition, how I look, what I’m doing. Not much in my life has been done on what I think I should do, but rather what I think others think I should do.

I seek that validation from others. Even then when I get it, I downplay it and act as if I don’t really care.

I have people message me asking if I’m okay, and I find myself ignoring them because I don’t feel like I deserve that care or attention and that I’m simply a burden to these people. I just want someone to visit me saying it’ll be alright, without me feeling like they’re only saying that because I might harm myself if they don’t. I want someone to hold my hand and comfort me not because they have an obligation to, but because they want to. That’s innately selfish, I guess.

I’m so tired, mentally rather than physically, though the former does influence the latter. I don’t want this illness to define me for the rest of my life. I just want to disappear, to have no expectations from anyone because I’m afraid I’ll never meet them.

Any friendship I have will be tainted by the fact that I have depression.

Any relationship I have will be tainted by the fact that I have depression.

People will say they it doesn’t matter, and maybe they’re being truthful. But I can’t escape the idea that one day it’ll be too much for them or they’ll just have enough and walk away. It’s already happened before, it’ll probably happen again.

Most of my accomplishments are soon met with setbacks. When I’m having a few “good” days, I’ll be met with a couple of “bad” weeks. When I’m finally happy with what I should be doing, something or someone convinces me to change my mind and I’m back to square one. When I’m finally comfortable trusting someone, I somehow manage to lose them.

I’m stuck with my hindsight. It’s just suffering all over again. I would do anything to go back and tell myself “Don’t be so paranoid” or “Don’t get involved”, but I don’t know if I’d listen, even to myself. I can’t even do that now most of the time. Sometimes I think it’s easier to limit the number of people I have in my life, it worked before. But that’s also taking a step backwards, and I know that’s not real progress in becoming better. I just want people to be happy.

Setbacks are incredibly hard, and I feel as if I’m back to square one. I think the idea is to realise that you won’t always make it over that hurdle, sometimes you’ll clear it, sometimes you’ll bump your leg, and sometimes you’ll come crashing down. I’m on the floor at the moment, looking at the ground, grit in my nails, trying to find the motivation to continue.

I’m sorry this week’s post isn’t uplifting or particularly helpful to others. But sometimes putting the truth down in words can start a process of recovery. If that’s the one piece of advice you should take away from this, it’s this. Accept your truths, accept your own thoughts, and accept that the road to recovery is not easy. And from there, take whatever steps you need to get back up on your feet, move forward, and attempt that next hurdle.

We will be well.

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