Introspection was something I used to be comfortable with, as was a fine bit of navel-gazing. After all, when you’ve been on your own for years, without many friends and a distant family, it’s natural to look inside yourself and ask questions. Now I’ve grown up a little, left my teens and entered my late-twenties, I suddenly find myself unhappy with the concept of self-analysis. Firstly, analysis naturally makes me pessimistic; it’s difficult not to be when so much has gone wrong in such a small space of time. Secondly, it makes me more vulnerable to judgement and criticism, and I’ve never been able to take them well.
Spending time reading blogs on similar subjects to my own also pushes me towards the negative. I hesitate to use the word trigger, as I’m not sure if depression can truly be triggered, but it’s as close as I can get to explaining it. It’s the reason why I’ve always shied away from group therapy and why I became much more unwell when admitted to a psychiatric unit. Too much time spent hearing or reading about depression and mental health in general seems to send me into an uncontrollable downward spiral; just as reading about anorexia will cause me to starve, or how discussing self-harm will leave me eyeing-up knives and blades, regardless of how I actually feel. Still, I can’t help reading, and I have to ask myself; do I enjoy being negative?
Years ago, I remember telling a friend’s brother (who was given to solitude) that I agreed with the Manic Street Preachers lyric “I’m happy being sad”. It’s true that I felt far more comfortable wrapped up in depressive thoughts and isolation than I did partaking in ‘normal life’. As a self-absorbed, melancholy child given to anxiety and self-imposed isolation, I surrendered quite happily (if that’s the right word) to depression, allowing it to take me over and create my personality. I wrote poetry whilst depressed, I lost weight, I became a nicer person.
Nowadays, I’m not so comfortable with it. In fact, I’ve grown to fear depressive episodes, sparking off anxiety and panic attacks at the thought of weeks spent hiding under the duvet. Growing up played a natural part in that, I think; as I’ve grown older, I’ve realised I can’t rely entirely on myself to survive and that I need friends and family around me. I still struggle with friendship. In many ways I’m still the repressed, naive teenager I used to be, but with more insight and experience.
I also know that I can’t expect to hold a relationship together if I’m constantly spiralling into a negative viewpoint, and that I need to force optimism if I’m to deal with the feelings of panic and fear of abandonment.
So no, I don’t enjoy being pessimistic. I want to leave that side of me behind.