I’ve been having a bad time just recently, with the downs outweighing the ups by a more than considerable amount. I’ve found myself laying awake most nights listening to the whispers in the darkness, the voice of the brain-assassin as she tells me all of the reasons why I should just give up now and walk away.
I’m usually quite good at working my way through these all-too-regular bouts of depression. I know enough to remind myself of the good things I have in my life, like my job, my few true friends and my partner, and the roof I have over my head. In some respects I’ve got it good, and as long as I can keep telling myself that the brain-assassin doesn’t stand a chance. Oh sure, there are still times when I’m reduced to nothing more than a quivering tear-factory curled up on the bed, but behind the tears I’m still able to remember that the bad will pass and the good will more than make up for it. It’s a never-ending round-and-round battle between the part of me that values the life I live and the part that simply couldn’t give a flying fuck, but it’s a battle in which I normally have the advantage.
Unfortunately, that isn’t always true. Which brings me to the here-and-now. This last week the brain-assassin has been particularly effective. She’s dragged up a lot of the same old reasons for letting go and added a few new ones to her arsenal that have caught me by surprise.
The biggest cloud casting shadows on my mental landscape at the moment is the temporary postponement of my surgery. Had things gone as planned then by now it would have all been over and I’d be lying in a hospital bed in London with newly reorganised plumbing and dealing with the prospect of recovery and adaptation. Instead, I’m still stuck here in Sheffield with a question mark hanging over my medical treatment and an angry voice at the back of my mind pointing out that this could have been avoided if I’d just asked the right questions in the seven years I’ve been working towards this moment.
Then there’s the huge pile of regret that I’ve built up over the last decade or so. Mostly that falls into two categories: regrets over the opportunities I’ve missed and regrets over the things I’ve messed up.
Missed opportunities are, it’s fair to say, the easiest to ignore. So what if I missed that chance to spend six months in Australia seven years ago; I still had a good time here in the UK. Big deal if I turned down that offer to move down south five years ago; had I gone I wouldn’t have met my current partner and there’s no guarantee I’d have done any better down there than I have up here. The things I coulda, shoulda, woulda done can be passed by without a second glance. It’s the other category that’s not so easy to get around.
I seem to have made a life out of messing things up, especially friendships and relationships. It’s almost as if I have a self-destruct sub-routine hard-coded into my subconscious that kicks in whenever I’m finally starting to enjoy life, or when things appear to be going my way for a change. It’s not something I seem to have any control over, though that’s probably only a question of perception. Whatever the case, just as I find an equilibrium that works for me some switch in my head gets flipped and I unconsciously manage to find some way to screw things up beyond repair.
It’s the lost friendships I regret the most. Don’t misunderstand; some of those lost friendships are better off dead, but there are a few that I wish I could get back. Particularly the writer and the historian. They’ve both been on my mind a lot recently, the latter because I’ve been reading a lot of history and the former because of … well, pretty much everything else. Both of these friends were an important part of my life while they were around, and in the end it was because of my actions that those friendships fell apart. If I could turn the clocks back and mend those friendships before they got broke I would do so in a flash, without a second thought, no questions asked.
The simple answer is to get in touch with them, to send them both a message to find out how they are and ask if there’s a chance of re-starting those friendships. However, the brain-assassin then steps in and points out that neither of them has tried opening a new dialogue at any point, so what makes me think it’s worth the effort? And at the end of the day, in my current frame of mind would it really be wise to risk the additional pain of rejection should either (or both) of them reject my overtures?
And so it is that the brain-assassin goes around and around, spinning her web of depression and apathy in my mind, taking me deeper into the pit and closer to the point where it seems easier to give up rather than carry on. I keep beating her back with a stick and the help of my loved ones but it’s getting harder and harder to drag myself back from the edge each morning. I just hope she gets tired before I do.