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I do not believe depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not contradicting science and arguing that there are demons in our heads that need to be exorcised. I simply refuse to believe that depression is just a chemical imbalance in our brains.

Depression in an illness. Implying a detectable abnormality in our bodies makes this assumption more real; it can be seen, proved. In other words, we are not making this up and moaning about being sad, it’s a fact. Having a scientific way to prove that depression exists and it’s not just a musing also makes most of us accept the idea of taking pills.

My problem with the idea of blaming the chemical imbalance is that some people seem to believe that depression is only a chemical imbalance that can be cured with pills. My fear is that they would rely solely on the pills and refuse to do the rest of the work.

I know a few people who think that and have read about many others who maintain the same point of view. They are just fine; before depression their life was basically perfect, they had no problem, only one day the chemical imbalance struck and everything was turned upside down. But then they started this medication and everything was fine again. Sounds familiar?

It’s wrong. And it’s dangerous. Well, no, it’s just mainly petty.

The relationship with antidepressants can be complicated and frustrating. Many of us fight strenuously against them, some of us are dangerously eager to get them and never cease to do so, some can’t take them even if they want to, some go through excruciating months to find just the right one. I belong to the group of people who prefer to do without them.

I wrote a post a few months ago where I stated I had decided to take them just for the sake of trying something new and get a fresh chance at getting better. In the end I never did start, because of some of the many, possible side effects and because it’s not just an in-and-out thing, it takes ages and I am not keen on the idea of embarking in a year-long journey. My kind of depression, dysthymic disorder, allows me to choose. If it got any worse, I know I could resort to antidepressants. It can help, but it’s not mandatory.

For other, major depressions it is not only recommended but necessary. Still, this doesn’t mean it is the only cure.

I know how depression works. I live dysthymia every day and I have watched major depression very closely. It put ideas, monsters in your head. And yes, they do go away when you feel better; not because you realise it’s just the depression talking, but because you get out of the loop, because you can block the anxiety, because you manage not to think about it. Even when I am not in a depressive bout though, I get to the same answer: I am not fully happy because of my negative thoughts. This I believe is the core.

The chemical imbalance might be responsible for the bouts, the loops, the anxiety, whatever. But at our core, we are not alright. Pills could be good enough. Dysthymia is as hard as it gets to eradicate and I know that I will probably never be as “fine” as those who have never suffered from any mental illness whatsoever. So I am content with the idea of being better, without strong bouts, without most of the anxiety, possibly without the chemical imbalance. But that doesn’t mean that a pill is the answer. That it isn’t worth trying to fight to eradicate the faulty thought process altogether.

Because pills are like a pause button. They allow you time to breathe, which is essential, but when you stop taking them you are back at square one. Because they do not cure the disease, they only take the pain away. I want a cure. I want a long-lasting, long-term solution and I strongly believe that modifying our negative thought patterns is the answer.

Those who believe that making the chemical imbalance go away will solve the problem are ostriches. They want to believe in the magic pill, the blue pill that will erase all change and let your life go on undisturbed. I understand. I wish it were that simple. Unfortunately, it’s nowhere near that simple. Maybe to some, depending on a drug to live an acceptable is fair game.They prefer to sweep it all under the carpet and leave it there hoping it will disappear.

I could never accept it. I have already spent many years of my youth turning my head away from the problem, I would be constantly terrified that it all could backlash at me when I least expect it, making me realise just how much time I have wasted way too late.

But maybe, here’s the deal: they do not even realise how badly it could backlash.

So please, do the work. That hard, frightening, menacing work of getting to know yourself and your problems, your weaknesses and try to embrace change. Because it can’t really get worse, worse than not being aware of your emotions, worse than living subjugated by fear, worse than being the cause of your own pain. And if it does get worse, it’s only the first mile of the road to getting better.

This I would like every single person on Earth to understand. Not just the family of the depressed, but every one struggling with an emotional problem. Do not live in slavery of your imperfections. Anxiety can be defied, panick attacks can be defied, depression can be defied. It’s not a settled and unquestionable God-sent curse. Fight for a better life, because you can have it. Fight or die trying.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/the-sound-of-silence/

Silence is scary.

Silence is scarcity, silence is subtraction, silence is proof of loneliness.

Noise is reassuring, you always know there is a world out there, driving by, ringing, talking, barking, existing. The world is and every action of human beings, animals and forces of nature is stressed by noise. You know that there is hope out there, there is society, there is humanity.

You surround yourself of sounds and noises and welcome them, you listen to your friends’ voices, turn on the radio while driving, turn on TV resting on your couch, lose yourself in the tapping of your fingers on the keyboard. You fill up your head with external influences.

But late at night, one by one the noises fade and disappear. Minute after minute you are left alone by the world outside, forced to face your inner voice, the one that never ceases. The one you can never fully cover up, the loudest one, the one you can’t run from.

Sometimes, it’s just made up by grocery lists, to do lists, foam-peanut thoughts, noise. When you decide to mute even that noise, what fills the void stinks of inadequacy, fear and torment. To do lists are replaced by what if lists, enumerating every single thing that might go south in your life, every imperfection, every weakness, every point that makes you hopeless and unlovable. Your inner voice screams in a hundred different voices how you’ll always be left alone, in silence.

When all the silence you need is that of your own hate.

http://www.oprah.com/spirit/How-to-Overcome-the-Past-Ask-Deepak

Sometimes I amaze myself. Considering I’m supposed to be depressed, this notion amazes me in itself.

Yesterday at training the most awkward thing happened to me. It was a “good” session, it had been long since such a good session, I’ve been feeling very negative in the last few months. It might have been because I received the final list of participants for my upcoming competition and the spark lit up again. So at one point in the evening, I was jumping and my feet autonomously and anarchically decided to perform a technical element I had never tried before. And it came out perfect. Just like that out of nowhere.

I’ve been laughing about it ever since. Thinking of it, there was just another instance in my life when something similar happened: when I would use a particular word in English I had no idea I knew.

It makes me feel gifted, special.

I am also amazed of how I keep growing, even, especially when I don’t realise it. You feel stuck, you are sure you keep dealing with the same issues over and over again, in a loop, then all of a sudden you lift your head in astonishment when you grasp you have come to a turning point. And you didn’t even notice you were walking on that path.

These are the times when I almost believe that things can change. It’s not a belief yet, it’s just a background question. It puts desperation on pause. It makes you wonder that you have to concede that the ways of the world are wiser than you and things are going to be ok in the end.

No one will ever know how long it’s going to take and patience is always scarce, but there is a path and sometimes I wake up walking on it.

Today then I stumbled upon this column from Dr. Deepak Chopra and it was one of those moments where you can’t help nodding at every word you read, because they are describing your life like a mirror.

A few seconds after reading how I should stop feeling unlovable just because an unlovable person made me feel like I was never enough, I connected the dots.

I started out my career as a personal assistant in a polished world-renowned consulting firm – please add sarcasm to the statement. When I started working, I was thrilled at the idea of spending 10 hours in an office and working my ass off, because I was finally aware and confident of my skills and capabilities and 18 months of Ivy League level companions made me feel like I belonged to the brainers’ club. I couldn’t wait, I was ready to face any challenge and come out of it victorious.

Too bad I ended up serving – or should I say babysitting – one of those narcissistic assholes who are parked inside a company at highest positions like a statue, who likes to bully people around, dispense insults and humiliations like morning greetings and just loves to make your life miserable with the excuse that he’s really teaching you something about life. Nope, in my country people like that don’t get fired or sued, they make partner. That’s the reality of life that he actually taught me.

Needless to say, I was burnt out within 2 months, crying every single morning before going to work within 3 and looking for a new job within 4. Of course, I had to go through the typical stigma of people not believing that it was that bad… until they overheard one of the Saturday morning calls, then they would believe just how bad it was. Everyone in my position would have fled, would have burnt out, cried and gotten depressed. It’s just how it is when someone shatters your self-worth day in and day out.

But only today I fully realised that it was just a little bit worse for me. I never regained a particular joy of work, I don’t care for my career anymore, I am scared to leave my current position, which does not stimulate me in the least, because I know how worse off I could be. Not because of a single bully, but because once again I found myself in the situation of facing someone who could not be pleased with me no matter my efforts in the matter. I could have been the best worker in the whole continent, he would have deprecated my job nonetheless. I was smart enough to understand that even back then, I saw how he kept contradicting himself just to prove that he was always right and anybody else was always wrong, but the damage was done.

I wonder if all of this would have happened anyway had the wound been left closed.

I haven’t written absolutely anything anywhere for a while, a couple of months.

Fact is, I don’t know what I should write about.

In my head, this space was to be used as a chalkboard. The place where you can get the big picture from the scraps of ideas that are swimming freely in your brain. It did serve its purpose in the beginning.

But then it became the notorious emotional dustbin. The only place where I could basically whine and put into words my worst thoughts. I think I wanted to be inspirational. But at some point along the way, I realised it wasn’t working. It felt as if I had stopped working towards an end, a goal.

It feels as if I have lost my goal: finding sanity. Somewhere along the road I lost hope, I lost the strength to fight, so if there was no future to tend to, writing wasn’t going to be of any use anymore. It would only make me observe my uncertainty. And I didn’t want to look.

I just wanted to exist and maintain my unstable balance as long as I could.

I still want to.

But there are major differences now, I suppose. When I lost hope, I thought there would be no end to the state of numbness and hopelessness I was in. I thought it was the end, that there was no other way out, that every day from that moment on would be just the echo of a resigned acceptance to mere survival. Every day.

It turns out, it’s really not like that. I have realised that there are good days and bad. It sounds obvious, but it’s not. Every time it’s a red day, it feels like it lasts forever, it feels like a vortex dragging you down which will never cease. But it ceases alright. Then come the orange days, the yellow days and even the green days. Lots of them, not just once a fortnight.

And when lost in a red sea, I only wish I could discharge the feeling of oppression that blocks my lungs, but writing isn’t the answer. Writing propagates the pain. Makes me focus on the pain. So I don’t. Nobody wants to hear about the pain anyway. Not even me.

I haven’t stopped rummaging my thoughts and trying to figure out a way out of this though. It felt as if I had, but it was just running in the background. Until I came to a basic but fundamental knowledge: I can pinpoint exactly the source of all my issues. I know all the answers to questions such as why, where does all this come from, why do I react this way, why am I suffering. My very personal answer is a deeply rooted lack of self-confidence and self-love in very specific sections of my life.

People say that the first step towards solving a problem is finding out what the problem is. True, but…

True, because I now fully realise that it wouldn’t have been possible to try to tackle this problem before my years of therapy. Which maybe didn’t “cure” me but certainly let me open up myself enough to look at the problem in the eyes, analyse it, interpret it and recognise it for what it is.

But… because the same years of therapy, or I should say analysis, led me to see the problem but provided no weapon whatsoever to fight it, to uproot it, discard it and build again.

It took me years to finally find the source of the leak, now that I have, I see very clearly that I need two types of tools: rugs to prevent the flood from spilling any further and a wrench to replace the broken pipe. In other words, I’d like to find a way to snap out of my bad days when they come, or at least prevent being overwhelmed by them and to build the confidence I lack and overwrite my negative thought patterns.

This I believe to be a milestone.

But more than that I was propelled to write today because of this video.

I feel that shame. I never talk about what I’m going through. I may talk about the fact that depression is there, and that I do things because of it, but what actually goes on in my mind and how it affects many of the things I do, many of the reactions I have, many of the choices I make… no, that I do not speak about.

I joined group therapy sessions, because I was hoping I could do that. Not to dwell on self-pity all together but to hear a second opinion from someone who’s been there, who is there now, who knows what I am talking about. But it’s really not working like that. I still don’t know if it’s because they are holding back since I’m new or if it’s just not their thing.

So how? How do I beat shame, how can I begin talking about this to people who don’t understand? I have talked to Maddy during my “attacks” sometimes and she means well, but she just doesn’t get it. She doesn’t get to the source, she stops at the surface. And getting the wrong response might be worse than getting none at all, because it only makes you feel more misunderstood and alone.

Do I have to give up to the idea that as long as my “attacks” come I’ll just have to handle it by myself and wait it out and that I will get relief only as they become less frequent?

I am missing a diagnosis. I used to ignore this bit, I’ve never given it a lot of importance, but now I feel this lack. It’s not because I need to know what’s wrong with me, it’s because I need to know what to do and what to expect to get out of it.

I’m not sure if I fit into a specific diagnosis, most of the times it feels like no description fits me like a glove, while I pick single pieces from here and there forming an unknown melting pot.

But not knowing, or not naming it, prevents me from researching, from finding additional work for me to do in order to overcome it all. It prevents me from recognising my resources. It prevents me from having expectations regarding my possible recovery.

Of course, my tendency towards hypochondria leads me to believe I fit diagnoses which aren’t really my case. This is why I have started reading a lot of blogs of people who suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder. I don’t have BPD, I would have been diagnosed by now if I did and I would feel much worse, I suspect. I wouldn’t have been able to do without medicines, I probably would have attempted suicide, I would have self harmed. Still, I read about it, because there’s always something to learn.

One of these things is how, when you have a specific condition, your doctor tells you what to expect, whether or not you are going to fully recover and how long it’s going to take. When recovery is possible, they talk about a few years. Of course, recovery is much like skating: you can’t tell how long it’s going to take for you to learn, because each and every one of us moves at their own pace. Some are gifted and spring forward, others need to strive a little more.

Still, I feel like I don’t have this at all. I feel alone even in my own condition. If you know you have a specific condition, you automatically enter a set: of all people, of all patients, of all of those who struggle with mental illnesses, you fall into the set of [enter your condition here]. There are others like you, others who have walked the same way before you, others you can compare yourself to, others you can learn from and can help you leading the way. Others who write their story on the Internet, others who found self-help groups, others who put their voices out there to inspire and guide anyone who still feels lost.

I don’t have that. I don’t know who I can look up to. I feel like I am the only one with my mix of ingredients and like I am the only one who can figure out how to get out of it. With one major exception: if no one has walked this road before, no one will ever tell me how long I’ll have to walk before I arrive, or if. The if is one of my biggest fears right now. People can recover from BPD, people can recover from OCD, from Depression, from Panic Attacks… can I recover from whatever-the-hell-it-is-I-have?

Sometimes, having a less debilitating condition is not always luck. Because it’s like having a rare disease. Cancer is hell, but it’s cancer, everyone knows cancer, there are statistics, cures, factsheets; that doesn’t mean it’s better than other diseases, because it’s not, but there is a specific course to follow. You do your radio therapy, you do chemo, you do this and that. If you’re lucky, it works just fine. You go through your own slice of hell and come out alive. Just like my father did. Twice.

If you have Tinnitus, it’s different. Your life is by no means at stake, it’s not even remotely life threatening, but at the same time, chances are you won’t be able to do absolutely anything about it. Because nobody know enough about it to cure it. And you start feeling like your life is a nightmare.

This is the way I feel. Absurdly, if I just had Depression I would have probably been cured long ago. My ex-husband had a major depressive episode, and in 6 months he was back on his feet just like nothing ever happened.

I’ve been in therapy for more than three years now. I feel the difference, I do, but it’s not enough. It’s so not enough, I can’t help but wonder how long is it still going to take. I may have started very slow, I admit that. I was completely unable to see my inner self, anything that was wrong could come out solely as anger, anxiety and control issues. The problem is, I’ve learned to uncover everything, I see the issues, I see my weaknesses, I recognise separate feelings… but it feels like I’ve been left here bare naked just looking at myself. Now is the time when I’m supposed to start working on my issues, and it feels like I’m not doing this at all.

The fact that I had to wait for 6 months to start group sessions hasn’t helped. I keep feeling on pause. Waiting for something to come, while my life is wasted away.

It also feels like everyday some new issue arises. There must be some eternal well throwing up shit inside myself, and every time I dig deeper I find larger shit fields. I wonder if I actually invent them, if I have my little illegal shit plantation with irrigation systems, red light lamps and all. First came insecurity, then mommy issues, then guilt for my divorce, then love addiction. They may all stem from the same fountain, but I’m no closer to finding a solution, now that they have been uncovered.

I read. That’s my personal, self-managed therapy. And oh, the pages I have read! It seems that experts are only ever interested in teaching. You can find hundreds of pages describing conditions, and not a single one offering solutions. I read the most exhilarating today. Well, no exhilarating is unfair, it’s good advice, it’s just so useless for me. They connect love addiction to low self-esteem (okay) and basically tell you that in order to defy the addiction you have to believe in yourself. Now, there may be some people out there who have never actually thought about this before and needed someone to tell them, but it feels like someone telling me that water is wet. Mmm, gee, I hadn’t thought of that, now that you tell me I’ll start believing in myself!!

And it goes on saying how you can start believing in yourself and building your confidence by doing things, by seeing how you can do things that matter to you and feel stronger seing results. And this feels like having my leg pulled.

This may be my very personal problem, but I don’t have issues with what I do. I have issues with what I am.

I’m good at my job, when my mind isn’t preoccupied with all this mental nonsense, I’m a good skater, I’m a good photographer, I’m a good singer,  I bake wonderful cakes, I have a gift for languages, I park my car like a pro even though I’m a woman, I’m a half genius for anything practical and problem solving. But that is just what I do, it’s not what I am. What I am, what I feel, that’s wrong, that’s what’s missing, that’s what makes me feel inadequate.

I’ve been bombarded with this idea that anything good would come from an education, that my practical, intelligent mind is all I’ve ever grown and nurtured. I felt I could be appreciated only if I did good and that’s what I’ve always tried to do. Even now, after… all, I still want people to appreciate me for what I do. Because I try to compensate what I am now with what I do.

Reading about women with love addiction… it feels like I’ll never get out of it. It makes me angry that once again I have to thank my parents for this wonderful gift, it makes me angry to see how long it’s going to take to get better and that most of the times what happens is that women get out of relationships only to become addicted to the groups themselves.

And yet, I know this profile doesn’t fit me either. It’s always like I only reflect the image of the initial phases, I never get to the bone. Which is good, I suppose, because I’ve never been in a co-dependent relationship, I never let anyone mistreat me or hurt me physically, I realised years ago how love didn’t have to hurt. All in all, I chose my partners wisely. I may have stuck with some people longer than I should have, but never really to a fault. I still maintain my boyfriends were all decent or good.

That in itself would be praised as a very good starting point. I know, I see it that way too. Fact is, I want more.

I suspect, that the status in which I am in is the aim of several people with much greater issues than mine. Which I still don’t know if it’s possible to consider a good thing. I’m afraid it works like a diet. It’s easy to shed pounds when you start a diet, when your weight is so excessive that just a minor reduction in food intake brings along very visible results. Then you get to the point when you’re not so excessively fat anymore, but you’re not slender either and pounds just won’t leave you anymore.

I also always tend to succumb to exhaustion when I’m really close to the destination. I’m no good with last efforts. I hope this is it.

I’d like to begin by apologising to anyone who is religious, it doesn’t matter what kind of religion. God here is intended as any kind of supreme being, regardless of the religious institutions attached to it. I totally understand this is outrageous to them.

Believing in God is not easy. But mostly, believing in God is not mandatory. Or it shouldn’t be.

I keep reading “stuff” on the internet, articles, blogs, self-help pages and more often than not, I come across sentences of various styles that could be grouped as “with the help of God you’ll make it”.

I’m not saying that this is the only alternative given, of course not, but for instance the fact that this is the foundation of each and every 12-step-programme is nothing less than scary.

I believe in science (and I would like to add, hence I don’t believe in God) and I believe psychology is a science and I believe psychotherapy can heal most of the psychological discomforts human kind can experience.

I strongly refuse to believe that I have to believe in God to stop drinking/using drugs/gambling/insert-your-addiction-here.

But this is only tangent to the point.

What makes me furious is that it looks like praying to God will bring forth any necessary change to heal. I’m looking for answers, or better, I am looking for manuals. I need to find strategies to get better, to heal, to cope, to change radically and what I keep finding are just statements that changes are necessary. Very rarely can people tell you how. Whenever you attempt to get to the how, there it comes: grace.

The hell with you: I’m never going to wake up one day enlightened and happy just because I said my prayers the night before. I’m going to have to work towards it. More than that, I want to believe that I can be a part of it, that there is something that I can actively do, that I am the one deciding where I’m headed instead of praying and well, really just hoping, that things will come on their own.

That of course is the definition of faith itself. You have to believe in God. And I may venture into saying that yes, those who believe in God can actually benefit from that faith in their everyday struggles. But please, do not tell me that those who don’t have one and only chance: convert.

You can’t force people to believe in God in order to get better, first of all because faith is not really something you can command, either you already had it or you don’t; of course some might find their faith while healing, but it’s not a certainty. But mostly, you can’t force faith on people because saying that you can heal with God’s help implies that you can’t do it on your own. Don’t get me wrong, relying on other people is essential, but God is not people. This feels like an ultimatum.

We are social animals, that is widely known, but we are not religious animals. Religion is a choice, people who are not religious are not ill, while those who tend to isolation also tend to suffer from this condition. So yes, everyone needs help to get better, I for first rely on a therapist, group sessions and friends and benefit immensely from it all. But I refuse to believe that I have to surrender to God in order to heal.

I imagine now how myriads of religious people would be nodding their heads and think “God helps those who help themselves”. Now that’s convenient. Those who help themselves, help themselves with or without God.

I understand how sometimes healing may look like a miracle. If nothing else, because being better often looks impossible when you’re still neck-deep in shit. I also understand how sometimes you fully realise you have improved almost suddenly, and can’t really tell what it is that happened or what strategies you used to get there. So telling other people “how” is almost impossible.

Still this doesn’t mean that God did the trick, or that your prayers did.

November 22nd to me is one of those dates in life you remember.

13 years ago, I had just arrived in my current city to start college, for the first time finally away from my hometown, on my own, out of the suffocating grip of my parents.

On November 22nd I bought my first snowboard. It was a statement. It meant I want to dedicate my life to this, something I believed in, in memory of all those who died in the Kaprun fire.

There are a few of those dates in my general year. May 6th, April 21, Friday the 17th. Milestones. And year after year I go back to those original days and take stock of my life, of the additional years to my age. What has happened in the time lapse, what is different, what is better, what is worse, how far I’ve come.

November 22nd 2013 is the day I give up. Today of all days I realised how useless everything is, how I dispise my life, and every pointless thing in it. It’s the day I realise “normal” does not apply to me and my past, and that my opposite to “normal” is not “above average” but “insufficient”. Today is the day that I realise “normal” is something I will never have and I decide that 32 years of insufficient life are enough. I am done. And since I’ve been trying like hell to turn this around with absolutely no avail, I give up trying. Today is the day I hope tomorrow will never come, for here I am stuck in my insufficient life, unable to change it and I don’t want to be stuck here for the following 32 years. No thanks.

Today is the day I get angry at the world, today is the day I stop being kind and civil, for no good thing has ever come from that. Today is the day I realise how useless and doomed is everything I do. Skating is useless, working is useless, living is useless.

You are put on this chessboard by the selfishness of other players and are forced to the battlefield with the insufficient weapons you are supplied. You are supposed to strive for survival. Then one day you stop, you see that you are only ever fighting with no result if not that of avoiding being killed. So you start wondering why. Why is it important to preserve life? What is it exactly that makes it precious? 

And the answer doesn’t come. You just can’t see it. 

And that is the exact moment you start hating. You hate all the people in the people who know the answer: they tell you that life is beautiful. They tell you they love life. So you see the difference. Because you don’t. Some people are lucky enough to believe this from the start. Some people maybe are gifted with an enlightment along the way. I’m beginning to believe that this is truly genetics. The same genetical predisposition for certain illnesses exists for happiness too. I don’t have that gene. 

Some people are not cut out for a certain job, or a certain sport, I’m not cut out for this particular emotion. It doesn’t matter how hard you try, it’s not bad luck, it’s not meant to be. 

I think I understand addiction now. You don’t solve a problem with drugs, you make it worse. Or, you consciously decide to numb yourself day after day because you lack even the basic enthusiasm to take your own life. You feel forced to live, so you live the as little as possible. People who kill temselves have lost hope. Those who have never had it don’t even bother.

We drag on.

We are dragons.

Dragons don’t exist.

Had you asked me yesterday my opinion about this statement, I would have sighed and nearly burst into tears. I would have automatically added a “good” in the middle of the sentence: everything good ends. I would have thought about my relationship with Andrew ending, about my skating career ending, about my youth leaving me day after day. Cosmic pessimism, there must be a gene for that.

Today, unannounced, a new thought crossed my mind.

I’ve been thinking about Christmas. It’s that time of year: the cold, the early sunset, the decorations, people doing countdowns to December 25th. I’m no Christmas enthusiast, I’ve never been one – did you guess? This family time thing is most definitely not my thing. Plus, this is going to be the first Christmas I’ll have to spend alone, i.e. without my former husband. This is the first Christmas I spend alone, knowing how not being alone feels like.

I have been avoiding the thought so far. Like, really avoiding. It was there, lurking, but I effectively swept it away everytime. Until today, the “solution” came to me even before I properly handled the problem. This is a first.

Everything ends: Christmas is just one day. 24 hours. Of which I am going to sleep at least 8.

I’ve been facing days, weeks and months of dread on end, I have survived each and every single one of them. 16 hours are nothing. I will just have to patiently wait until the day is over. Hour after hour, sip of wine after another. And then I’ll be free again for the next 364 days.

It’s not a dreamlike situation, but neither is my life, nor my family. It’s just the best I can do. I’m not religious, I basically hate the crap out of our “national” religious institutions and I am not going to feel “better”. Everyone should be “better” on Christmas. I won’t be. Or rather, I will once again be selfishly better, I’ll most definitely try my best to do what’s best for myself. So the Ghosts of Christmas will come haunting me? Let them, I’m open to a change of mind, but I’m afraid they’ll pat me on a shoulder and tell me to hold on, too.

Because in the end it’s not Christmas per se. The point is finding a trick to talk myself out of stress, out of dread, out of a morbid countdown where D-Day is like a death sentence. It’s like a drug induced coma: it’s induced, which means it’s not as bad as a clinical coma, but it helps healing and bearing the process. It’s anesthesia.

It will not solve the problem, it only helps coping. Will the problem ever be solved? I don’t know, I would tend to say I will think about it when other pressing problems finally fade away. After all, tomorrow is another day. Another merely 24-hour-long day.

I remember vividly, during one of my many fights with my parents during teenage years, telling them how I had never asked for the Gift of life.

I had my reasons for saying it. It felt like the ultimate act of control over my life. I wasn’t given a choice, I was handed this gift without asking first if I even wanted it. It would be logic to assert that there was no way of asking before life was ever given to me, but the point was that I have never really been asked my opinion about things by my parents. Of course, knowing how my mother has always been extremely selfish in everything me-related made my opinion stronger.

But I look at it from a very different angle today. I linger in the wisdom of those words. Some 20 years later I still feel the same way. I feel like I am living this life because it has been given too me, but if I could, I would do without it. I don’t really consider suicide an option, because I am sure that one of the reasons why I suffer so much is the huge hope I carry within me to finally be able to lead a better, fulfilling happy life. A hope that has not turned into reality yet. But yeah, I would really like to do without it.

Not because life in itself sucks, but because often times I find mine sucks. Because I don’t want a life where I can catch my breath two weeks a year at a time, I don’t want a life where one day I start crying and never really know when or if I’ll ever stop. Because my life is tainted. As much as I hope for it to get better and I am trying all I can to turn it all around, I don’t really expect it to. Because I have no evidence that it can be any other way, because it has never been any other way for me. I expect to keep suffering and battling against this forever and forever asking myself: what the hell is the point?

What is the purpose of this life? It would make a whole lot of sense if I believed in paradise. I would look at it as a sort of atonement and wait for the end grinding my teeth because then I will have deserved eternal salvation. Sorry, the Catholics have tried this with me, but I decided God didn’t exist when my rational mind found absolutely no evidence of him in everyday life. I believe the day we die it’s game over, so I damn well know I’m supposed to get the best of it in the years I have left, because there will be no 40 fucking virgins waiting for me on the other side. There will be nothing on the other side. (No offense intended to all of those who believe, lucky you indeed).

Whenever I am enjoying myself or just doing something interesting I don’t even pose myself this problem, but it’s not like whenever depression doesn’t have a tight grip on me I have it figured out. I just don’t think about it, it’s exactly like numbing myself in front of the TV. It’s when I drown in tears and desperately try to find a handhold to lift myself up that I can’t find that superior purpose to look up to.

There are a hundred things I like, enjoy and which stir all of my passion out there, but they all seem temporary. I’m talking long term, the ultimate purpose of one’s life, the only thing that matters when you turn off all the rest of the noise. Because this my present life doesn’t have one.

I love skating, and the last two weeks being deprived of this goal and unsure whether I may have gone back to practicing or not have been tiring, but that’s going to last a few years at best. My knees can avoid breaking only for so long. After that I will still have photography, but I am not that talented. I suck at interpersonal relationships and most of the times I feel like my friends aren’t there at all for me, I’m just a past-time at best. I basically have no family in the strictest sense of the term. I don’t want to have children because… well, see above, like I would ever want someone else going through this shit because of me. What the hell is left?

My purpose so far has always been love. Finding love, living love, enjoying love and supporting the person I love. Now I face first of all a very real possibility of not finding it. Not because I am not enough or I am wrong, but because of how hard it is to find someone really right, of how difficult it is for me to handle feelings in general, and a general lack of time and opportunity. Plus, there is this sense of necessity to refrain from it. Because I feel worse when I have to handle a relationship, because I should battle this sense of need for love. Then again, I am sure that the only way I can learn to get a clue about love and how to handle myself with it is by having relationships. Nobody learns how to do stuff by not doing it.

I don’t think I will ever reach the point where I believe I am happy alone. Just as I don’t believe I will ever really be fine and stable, either with or without someone.

And the fact is I just can’t forgive my parents for not only bringing me into this world, but leaving me with no tool to tackle it, let alone finding a purpose in it. My only purpose right now is undoing all the damage that false ideologies imprinted in my brain over the early years of my life have caused. I can’t help but thinking how much suffering could have been avoided if only I had being raised to appreciate being a human being instead of a machine. I won’t solve anything just blaming, and I know I am the one who has to repair the damage, but I am angry. Because it’s not right, because I didn’t deserve this. And I have already struggled so much so far that I just don’t want to be bound to this for eternity, because really, I never asked for a life like this.

A few days ago WordPress offered its congratulations on my first blogging anniversary.

It’s been hard, at times it’s been nothing short of terrible. It’s been a steep learning curve and yet I have no way of discerning whether I have been a good student or not.

I know that 12 months ago I found myself for the first time feeling great, feeling strong, beautiful, confident and worthy. I know I lost all of those feelings along the way, plummeting to a depth far lower than I have been for the rest of my life. I know I have been climbing ever since. Trying hard to gain altitude again every day, sometimes slipping, sometimes gaining ground.

I haven’t reached the top yet, but I suppose I am not that far away anymore. I felt the air getting brisk last week, smelling like snow.

It had to do with two main events.

I managed to let go.
After a week of no invitations from Andrew and a refusal to my invitation, I decided to let go. It wasn’t the decision itself, it was the consequence. I felt liberated. I gained back satisfaction for my life, happiness to have my own goals, a sense of belonging somewhere in this world and no anxiety around the corner to spoil it all away in a minute.
I was lucid. And in that lucidity, I could really see this story with Andrew and understand feelings without having to sift them out of anxiety and attachment.

I stumbled upon Dr. Brené Brown’s talk on Vulnerability.
Half of the bloggers of this site talked about it and I see why. I watched the video and all I could think about was “here is the missing piece”. And its meaning, its lesson, I could understand now only thanks to the path I’ve walked in the past three years of therapy. In that moment, I realised how far I have come and how near I am to touch the tip of the mountain. After seeing the video, I knew everything would be alright if I could just stay focussed on the goal of finally finding and nurturing my vulnerability. If every action is guided by this, I will never make the same mistakes again.

And so it was, that after I had given up on Andrew, when he wrote me again, and again, and again finally asking me out, I knew very precisely what I had to do. I thought I would never see him again, and I was fine with it. Because I (thought I) knew he was not the kind of person I thought he was, wished he was. But I also knew I missed that person. It was the clearest image, because it was no longer about needing someone, it wasn’t about fear of abandonment, or inability to cope with life without someone. It was just about seeing the colours of a soul and missing the idea of finding out every possible shade.

I knew I had to come clean and tell him exactly what it looked like and how under no circumstance I was ready to accept this situation as the next best thing. It wasn’t the need of an answer, not really. I needed to say it, as a fist step to be seen. To learn what it feels like to expose yourself to fight for what you believe, because the day I will meet that special someone, I want to be ready to be the better version of myself.

There is no guarantee that someone may like you or love you back the way you love them, there is no control in feelings, but if there is a way to try to steer things your way it’s this. You let them know who you are, how deep your feelings are, how much you are ready to sacrifice for them, how you don’t care about shame and saving face when your relationship is at stake, how you and only you are who you are and they can have it all, because you offer it to them. You hold nothing back.

You may be wrong, you may well chose the wrong person, it could all go to waste. But more than anything else here it’s about not losing the magnificent opportunity of being right. Not talking yourself down into believing an imaginary worst case scenario just to avoid confrontation. Not crippling yourself with your own hands. And believing in miracles.

Because sometimes they happen.

They look nowhere near as glowing and explicit as you might think a miracle should, but that’s what they are: the 3D moulding of your shyest hopes and longings.

In a lifetime of self belittlement and insecurity, where you’ve been holding back in every single relationship you’ve had, it’s as insignificant as someone telling you it was all a misunderstanding while they hoped you would call.

It’s not that, someone hoping for you to call is not the miracle. It’s that you made it possible for the miracle to happen.