Translations from the dark side

Why is it that something genuinely supportive and helpful comes off as condescending and invalidating? What lens do I put on that turns all the nice into hate? I know my stress is skyrocketing, and that the depression is creeping back in. I guess that’s the lens right there: depression. I had reached out to someone in hopes of finding support, but all I read from their response was how wrong I was doing things, how deliberately miserable I am, and how inadequate I am. In actuality, their response was uplifting, supportive, positive, and understanding.  My head instantly turned that positive into disparaging. Even as I recognize this, my head is battling itself. There’s the side that is berating me for being inadequate and stupid.  Then there’s the side of me that is taking the response at face value and trying to convince that other side that it’s reading into things. Depression will do that to you. Self – doubt and self – loathing become a way of life.
So my eyes will read “you’ve had so much success until now, you need to focus on that” and my brain will understand “you worthless piece of shit, you can’t even get recovery right. I told you you’d never amount to anything more that a useless waste of space. People tell you all the time to focus on the positive, but all you do is choose to be miserable. You’re a horrid person. You deserve everything you get and then some” (note here that a simple line of text has been translated into a tirade of the self…).

I’m writing this and the voice in my head is reminding me how stupid I have become. This is all stuff I should already know. It’s not supposed to be such a revelation… when I try to change the voice, it gets louder, then more sly when the loud doesn’t work.  It rationalizes the negative self-talk and starts whispering little doubts “you have been really off lately,” “you’re such a flake , the driving is getting bad,” “pretty soon you’ll be completely worthless in everything”… it makes the negative sound like logical conclusions. It plants seeds of doubt “everyone can see you’re crazy. It’s written all over you.  Why do you think you can’t get a job?” “Even if you did land one, they’d notice the crazy and find a reason to fire you if you don’t end up walking out first because you can’t take it”

We went to a volunteer meeting tonight at the nature center. We got hugs from people we hadn’t seen in a while, and all I could think was that they were pity hugs. Like they knew I was crazy and wanted to pat me on the head for making it out anyway but figured a hug would be less condescending… I know they are all about the hugs anyway, but my head screamed at me that they knew and just felt sorry for me.

Mental illness, self-doubt, and self loathing have a way of turning even the most positive interactions into something terrible. I wonder how much of my therapy is viewed this way.  I know the obvious ones, but what about the things that don’t necessarily hit my awareness? What about everyday encounters? What if everyone is really a wonderful person and it’s all just me that views them as hating me? I know I really dislike spending time with G. L pointed it out that my disdain for him was very evident earlier today.  I tried to be nicer when we got back home, but I have a lot of work to do on that front. He may be a perfectly wonderful person these days (ok, that’s an exaggeration. He may be at least tolerable), but I only see him through these angry glasses. Everything he says and does I interpret to be mean and hateful so I respond in kind. Then I feel bad for being an asshole. The cycle begins again. I’m once again battling the translation of simple words. I’m twisting what I’m saying to prove to myself how worthless and horrid I am. I just don’t know how to stop it.  There’s only so much arguing one can do with oneself before a splitting headache ensues. I think it’s once again time for sleep.

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