How to make someone understand?
I’ve been grappling with this quite a lot lately. Hubby just doesn’t understand. Ironic, really, when you consider that he, too, has suffered with depression (and even a suicide attempt). But in all fairness, as real as his depression was, it was simply different. His was caused by a hit-and-run incident (he was hit, and the other guy ran) and months upon months of constant pain.
Mine’s different. To be honest, there are times when I feel like my depression is just as much a part of me as the fact that I have blue eyes, or that I was born with blond hair (I have purple hair now, but that’s just ‘cuz I’m weird). I can hardly remember a time when I wasn’t depressed. As a child, I constantly heard friends ask me “what’s wrong?” even when it seemed nothing was. At least nothing specific. I always answered back “nothing,” because I couldn’t think of the ‘right’ answer. There wasn’t anything specific, I just felt down. I always felt down. I knew I was different because of it, but I also didn’t know any other way to be. To be ME was to be down.
But how does one explain oneself and one’s depression to someone who just simply doesn’t get it?
How do you explain what it’s like to have a voice in your head that’s worse than any abuser you’ve ever known in your life? I was able to get away from my father, and my grandmother, and all the bullies at school who seemed to thrive on taunting me. I even got away from my ex, who thought I was supposed to be his personal punching bag. But I can’t get away from the voice in my head that says worse things to me than any of the aforementioned people ever did. Nothing I ever do is good enough for her. She notices and remarks upon every single thing I ever do wrong. She’s the worst thing possible for my self-esteem, and yet I can’t make her go away. The worst part about it is that I can’t shut her up. The only way I know to shut her up is to smoke a joint. And I don’t always have any! (Right now, I’m completely out, so I think that’s one of the reasons she’s so vocal.)
But I start trying to explain it to him, using terms like “voice in my head,” and he looks at me like I’ve suddenly started claiming that God’s talking to me through the teakettle.
I’m not talking about a voice like I think somebody else is talking to me. I know it’s part of my own psyche. Not a very good part, not a part I’d like to keep, but it’s part of me. But the best way to explain it is to say that it’s a voice in my head. Because that’s what it’s like. It’s LIKE I have another person living inside my head, a person who hates me and doesn’t want me to ever be happy. I’m not saying I DO have another person in my head. That is the crucial, if subtle, difference. I’m not schizo or anything. And I’m not trying to pretend that I am. It’s just the best way to describe it.
But if I even try to go there, he looks at me like he’s going to call the men in the white coats to come and take me away to the little pretty pink padded room.
So how the hell am I supposed to explain it to him in terms he’s going to understand without getting scared… of ME?