Depression and Bullies
I used to think you could turn bullies into friends. If I just wear the right clothes and act the way they want, I thought, then suddenly everything they’re making fun of me for would be gone! And logically, once I’d made myself into what they wanted of me, the bullies would welcome me into their group.
As it turns out, I misunderstood what the bullies wanted. They did not want me to change so I could fit into their social group better; they wanted me to be miserable. My poor clothing and book-nerdery was just an excuse to pick on me. The hook to hang misery on, as it were.
Even if I had learned to dress exactly like all the other kids in school, they would have started making fun of me for thinking I was good enough to dress like that, or mocking me for how stupid I looked in that clothing compared to them, or maybe they’d just ignore the clothing and move on to my terrible hair.
The point is that bullies, once they’ve chosen their target, are not rational beings. And that was a lesson that came hard to this psychotherapy-soaked child, where every conflict could be smoothed out in a room between two reasonable people and a therapist to mediate them. I kept thinking that this could all be worked out, when the proper solution was to ignore the bullies as much as was possible.
Depression is a bully.
I was suicidally down yesterday for no reason except brain chemistry, waking up with the belief that everyone I knew would be much better off if I killed myself. And I did my usual ration-checks to see if what depression was saying was correct – because, like bullies, occasionally the cruel will tell you what the kind will not. So I looked at the evidence.
What the evidence told me was that as a polyamorous man, I had several women who loved me deeply, women who had the choice of other partners and yet still cared about me enough to send me texts and emails, and this should be evidence that I was not a worthless human being. At which point my depression started in on me: See? All these women who love you, and you just write them off. That’s how selfish you are, ignoring the adoration of these women. You’re such a self-centered asshole, you should kill yourself.
Fortunately, I knew my old adversary well enough to understand where it was leading me. I stepped away from the self-destructive sequence my depression was trying to guide me down, recognizing that when I’m in this mood every path goes straight to off-yourself-ville, and understood that the facts would have to be enough.
Depression is a bully in that it’s fundamentally out to destroy you. You can’t quite get away from him, like any good bully; the best you can do is come to an understanding that this is unpleasant, but it’s nothing you should take too personally. And hope, one day, that you’ll become strong enough to walk away.