I started writing another blog post and then realized mid-sentence on the first sentence, I was doing my usual thing again: Falling back on the second-person point-of-view — that pesky use of “you” instead of “I.”
Does anyone else find themselves doing this? I’ve noticed it creeps up in my writing when I’m trying to write a personal blog post, as I was attempting tonight. It’s like a subconscious defense mechanism to shield behind the second-person POV. To put up the big block letters: Y-O-U. If I put those up, then it’s not as scary to write about? I don’t know. But it annoyed me and I deleted that sentence.
So, let me try again.
When I was depressed, and specifically, within the clutches of daily suicidal ideation, that mode of thinking was normal. As weird as that seems. When I was in that frame of mind, I found it hard to imagine a week in advance, much less that Big Question my therapist asked me of, “What would your life look like without depression and/or anxiety? What would your life look like if you weren’t thinking about killing yourself all of the time?” He didn’t ask this second question, but it’s one I’ve asked myself, too.
I’ve mentioned this before, but I didn’t know how to answer that. Again, it’s that lack of imagination because this is the identity I’ve known and in another weird way, it became comforting to be in that space. But it’s a delusion, of course. Because I think the first order answer to that question is: A life without constant pain. Everyone experiences pain. Life is about periods of pain. But it shouldn’t feel like a crushing weight every moment of my existence, as it did.
But what’s the second order answer? Once the depression, suicidal ideation and resulting pain have lifted? What’s my identity now? Who am I?
Honestly, I still wasn’t sure. My day-to-day, week-to-week largely consists of time spent on work, pro wrestling, reading books, watching movies and TV, cooking and things of that nature. Would I suddenly be doing a bunch of other stuff I wasn’t before? At least, I thought the answer to that was largely “no.”
As it turns out, there has been more, though. I’ve taken up side gigs, like Instacart, I was too anxious to do before. I’ve jumped into giving back to my community in a myriad of ways as of late that I would’ve been too anxious to do before. In fact, now as I write this, I think anxiety was holding me back on some of these things even more than depression!
Because with depression, I could push through and did for the longest time. I still went to work. I still hung out with family and friends. I did things. I was functional. But perhaps it was that anxiety piece that was more the impediment and once that lifted …
Back to that first order, though, not thinking about killing myself on a regular basis anymore … it’s liberating in that, one, I’m not thinking about death on a regular basis, and two, I can forge a new identity and I have that precious resource of time back in a way rather than taken for granted, if that makes sense.
I’m still not sure who I am without “my” depression or “my” suicidal thoughts, but I’m enjoying a life on the other side trying to figure that out.