depression and loneliness, chicken and egg

Depression is a disease of heightened emotion and of no emotion at all (sometimes within the space of a few seconds) – the clichéd rollercoaster only if rollercoasters had long stretches of flat track travelled at a steady pace with no view, a couple of small climbs, frequent low drops and the occasional plummet into darkness. It is a disease of negativity and paranoia, one of confusion and irritation. And it is a disease of loneliness.

But maybe I’m using the wrong conjunction. Perhaps I should say, therefore it is a disease of loneliness.

If I’m honest, in part I isolate myself. I have lost friends (that’s not paranoia) and so I censor what I say and these days, too late to save all my friendships, I hide away when I’m very low because I can’t trust myself not to vocalise the worst feelings and desires. People say kind things when you say friends have disappeared. They tell you you’re better off without them, that they weren’t real friends anyway but of course that’s not true. They go for a multitude of reasons. I think my (ex) closest friend got bored. She seemed keen to talk for a while and then less so but she didn’t learn fast enough not to ask how I was and I didn’t learn fast enough to lie. Another one disappeared because I asked too much of her and kept asking long after I should have stopped. That’s the bigger regret because it’s completely my fault. Others haven’t disappeared but have backed off. More than not keep a careful distance.

And loneliness grows.

And paranoia grows – am I bothering them? why don’t they answer? did I say too much? did I say too little? And paranoia leads to further distancing and further isolation.

And negativity grows. No one cares much. No one cares at all. I don’t deserve these people who keep trying. They wouldn’t try if they didn’t feel guilty, if they weren’t good people. I’m worthless, useless, pointless…

And emotions wash over and wash away until all that’s left is despair and hopelessness and loneliness.

I wish I had a solution but some things have helped. I am becoming better at reading myself and knowing when to cut myself off and when I can dare to be in company. I use a website (www.elefriends.org.uk) for other nutjobs where I can proclaim the worst desires and most pathetic moments without fearing judgement. I’ve even made some “friends” on there. I know when to take a Facebook/phone break (most of the time).

But it’s a slow process. The loneliness still goes hand-in-hand with the depression. It’s hard to know how to separate the cycle and break it. Am I depressed because I’m lonely or lonely because I’m depressed? I wonder if anyone ever knows…

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