This is purely a personal post so feel free to run away now.
There has been a bit of discussion floating around about depression and how it effects us all in one way or another, whether we suffer from it ourselves or are close to someone who does. The reason I chose to throw my hat into the ring on the subject is that I keep seeing people talk about how the anonymity of the internet helps them, makes them feel more confident, happier even. I on the other hand am the complete opposite of that. For those of you who don’t speak German, the first word of the title translates as “wallflower” and that’s how I feel on-line. The girl in the corner, the one no one asks to dance unless it’s a dare.
When I’m down, I have zero self confidence, zero self belief and a whole bunch of self loathing but in the outside world I can fake it. Much of my working life has been spent dealing with upset, stressed and often angry individuals, many of whom were so wrapped up in their own issues (rightly so), that they wouldn’t have noticed if I burst into tears in front of them or danced around dressed as a clown for a bit. I learnt very early on that looks are hugely important (a mother who tells you how ugly you are at very opportunity tends to do that for you) and now, as long as I feel my facade is properly in place, my carefully constructed mask of makeup and expensive clothes I can function reasonably well even though I’m broken inside. Of course, I live in terror that just like the Emperor’s New Clothes, some bright spark will see right through me, will spot the terrified and miserable little girl posing as a professional but to date, no one has yelled “fraud” at me.
Then we come to WoW and twitter and the rest of the internet which should be the perfect hiding place for someone like me but I’m clearly doing it wrong. I watch twitter scrolling past, wanting to join in but feeling I have nothing to contribute. Even the basics take a huge amount of effort on my part, like responding to a question that I know the answer to because I’m afraid of being laughed at, of having my feelings of worthlessness reinforced. When the people who supposedly love you, criticise your every move, why wouldn’t strangers?
In-game with the exception of pvp, I shy away from contact with other people. I would love to raid in MoP but I know I won’t, the thought of trialling for another guild, of having to prove myself is too much to contemplate. It’s the same with 5 mans and LFR, without someone I know there to make me feel more comfortable, I’m just too insecure to queue up. It doesn’t matter that I have a whole bunch of hardmode achievements and that a relatively hardcore guild felt that I deserved a legendary, inside I feel a failure. I used to make my husband two man current heroics with me because I couldn’t queue up to do them 5 man. No wonder he doesn’t play tanks any more and yes, it has occurred to me that if you can two man something you could certainly manage with 5 but I still couldn’t make that leap of faith.
Battlegrounds on other hand is a completely different situation, I have no idea why but it’s an environment I’m comfortable in, perhaps because it’s a bit like work. It’s not paranoia, they are out to get you! Also as I said in reply to Navi’s post, I think I focus so much on winning that I tend to forget what’s going on inside my head.
So why the soul searching now? Well, I’ve been thinking a lot about perceptions recently. My Mother thinks the internet is full of monsters because you can’t see who you’re talking to, because everyone wears a mask yet the same is true of the real world. People show us the faces they want us to see, regardless of the space they are in. The face we project often isn’t what we see when we look in the mirror either. I applied for a nice and boring admin job the other week and didn’t get it, instead I got unsolicited advice from the Interviewing board who thought I’d be wasting my time and abilities doing something so mundane. I put the phone down and burst into tears, they wanted to me to apply for a couple of “proper” jobs within the same Department but how can I, someone who has screwed up their own life so much possibly take up a position where I’d get to play God with other people’s lives. Where failure has real and potentially life destroying consequences, not to me but to the people I’m meant to be helping. At times I think people just don’t see what’s right in front of them, how can they miss the rivers of scars on my arms, contours which map out the worst days of my life. How can they miss the tremor in my voice, my pulse hammering away just beneath my skin like a drum. Then I start to wonder if deep down, we’re all the same, it’s all an act for everyone and that inside us all there is this tiny gnomelike creature terrified of discovery.
I think the other part of my issue, is that I feel almost like a fraud for talking about depression because on the surface I have a perfect life. A husband who adores me, a large and complicated family who love me in their own special way, money to buy whatever I want. I have all the trapping which should make me happy, but I’m not. I have dealt with such terrible things at work, victims of torture and abuse which make my abusive ex look like a puppy dog, I feel bad for being miserable, for hating the way I look, for having days when the only thing which made the loathing go way was to drown it out by hurting myself. I read other people’s accounts of their depression and feel dreadful because even at my darkest moments, when I’ve contemplated dying I still function like a badly programmed robot. On a side note, I think that’s why the idea of Tranquillity in Dragon Age appeals to me, oh to be able to do my job without emotions getting in the way.
Now it’s like a river, there are calms and rapids and rocks lurking just below the surface. For a family who don’t talk about depression and mental illness, we sure have a lot of it. Suicide attempts that aren’t mentioned, Great Aunts locked up in what they used to call asylums, alcoholics too, one of my Great Grandmamma’s lived until she was a 98 and drank a bottle of whiskey a day. So many skeletons lurking in the closet and yet to the outside observer, we’re a perfect family.
In my less depressed periods I’ve always tried to push past my demons. At school I joined the debating team and actually captained the debate team for two years with great success (apart from the time I turned up to a competition too drunk to be coherent but that’s another story). I always wore long skirts so the audience wouldn’t see my knees knocking but I stood up there and did it. I started blogging as a sort of therapy, I thought trying to write to an admittedly flexible timetable might help keep my mind on the positives of life rather than the negatives. I force myself to comment on other people’s blogs and it takes a while because I delete each comment three or four times before I’m happy with it. Yesterday I queued for Ahune solo, I know it sounds like nothing but to me it was a huge undertaking. I was shaking the entire time, just waiting for something terrible to happen. It didn’t but the Gods of RNG didn’t see fit to reward my courage with a pet or a scythe either.
I accept now that I’ll never be free of this, that it’s always going to be apart of me. The little demon on my shoulder whose face and voice alters to fit the circumstances, worried about your appearance, well then it wears your Mother’s face. Stressed about failure, then it switches to being icy cold, your father telling you no one loves a loser, that daddy’s girl wins whatever the cost. Broken something and oh look, my subconscious has just conjured up my ex like a demon lover, “clumsy girls get hurt, what’s one more bruise when you’re so stupid you can’t walk straight”. The bruises on the outside fade, scars too but inside those wounds remain fresh as the day they were carved into you.
I can’t change the past but I’m not going to give in because if nothing else I’ve learnt that I’m better than them. Better than those petty people who seek only to destroy what they can’t control or understand. I’ve applied for those jobs I was afraid of, because I feel that the very fact that I understand the consequences of not taking enough care means that I will be good at it. That I’ll fight for each and every person as if my own survival depended on it. Bit by bit I’m going to challenge myself into doing the things I want to do, be more vocal, volunteer to help people and perhaps one day, I’ll become the woman I project in public.