Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Pathos (Grief, dysthymia, and annihilating self-hatred (well, mabye not annihilating self-hatred. maybe))

So here's a brief glimpse into Benjamin's mind. Warning: darkness ahead.

My delightful and brilliant father-in-law, David Jones, has been visiting for the last couple days. I have found his presence and company enormously encouraging.

Today we went hiking in the Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest and the Henry M. Jackson Wilderness. It was cold and wet, but not raining, and it was beautiful, and I felt remarkably good (hence the remark). We hiked nearly 10 kilometers, there and back, along the Pacific Crest Trail.

At the end of the hike, we drove down to Kirkland to meet my lovely dad at Outback Steakhouse. We went in, and sat down, and a young waitress named Alline came to take our orders. She tried to start with me, and I hadn't decided yet, so I asked her to let me order last. So she took orders from Megan and my dad and Megan's dad, and the moment she was done with that POOF, off she went in the flash of an eye.

I had been feeling quite hungry after all that hiking, but suddenly my hunger was gone, and in it's place was a feeling, in the pit of my stomach, that has become rather familiar lately--a sort of sick, empty, heavy feeling like one is about to cry. I said to myself

"Self, you need to speak up and make sure you that Alline gets your order, or else there will be no food for you to eat."

"Ah, but I no longer feel like eating anything anyway, so that will be fine. Anyway, surely even if Alline doesn't realize her mistake, someone else here at the table will, and will take appropriate steps."

"Well, what if they don't? You're a perfectly capable grown man, and by God you should at the very least be able to speak up for yourself when someone makes a smallish mistake like that."

"Aha--yes, I suppose you're right. And beyond that, I will most certainly feel like a world class idiot when their orders all arrive and there's no food for me."

"Yes, that's true, you *will* feel like a world class idiot, and it will be your own fault. Dork. Loser. You're pathetic. Now do something quick."

"But ... alas, even if I wanted to, which I don't, not entirely, there seems to be this feeling right here, at the center bottom of my rib cage, which ... has sort of paralyzed me, and I can't seem to ... do much of anything with it."

"God what a pathetic loser you are. I mean look at you. College graduate. Grown man. Father. And you can't even speak up for yourself in a relatively tiny situation like this? I mean what if you had to deal with any sort of *real* disaster or catastrophe or difficulty, like all those suffering people who actually don't even have access to potable water, or maybe like all the schizophrenics or clinically depressed people or people with borderline personality disorder? Get a grip!"

"God, how I wish I could. I. just. seem. to. be. paralyzed. with. this. horrible. horrible. feeling."

etc. etc. (I'm not making this stuff up).

That all went on until the food actually came. At which point some of the predictions of my unkind self came true. As my pathetic self more or less knew they would.

There something rather awful about a sense of being left out in the quintessentially communityish event of eating together.

Someday, I shall be emotionally healthier than I am in this present time period, and I shall ... *feel* better than I generally do currently. I'm convinced of that. Among other things, I've felt ... nearly this bad before, and then it got easier. Multiple times, actually. Thus experience indicates that it will probably get easier again. Hooray for that.


Kat said...

My dearest brother, thank you so much for that amazingly hopeful txt you sent me. I love you very much and I hope that you can cling to the hope that you well feel better eventually. I am very glad that I have the brilliant experience of having such an awesome amazing wierd eclectic brother to share my life with.

Megs said...

i love you, my dear, sad Bens
love ever,

Fishpimp said...


brooke said...

sometimes i think witness is not just about being in conflict zones between people. at moments like this it is just as important to be witness to the darkness in someone else's mind. that way people understand. unlike you i don't have the courage to let people witness mine in public, i'm just hoping i have the courage to let my pastor-counsellor witness it behind closed doors as i'm asking him for help later today.

Deanne said...

Thanks for sharing this with us!
I've been there and I know more people are there than admit it -

there are good days and bad days - but yes, it does get easier/better -

your honesty frees others to be honest -

thank you for the gift!

Benjamin Ady said...

Kat Megs John Brooke Deanne,

You five rocketh. People like you make the world feel ... safer. Thank you.

brooke said...

oh benjamin - did i tell you this already? at my counseling meeting with my pastor-counselor i took a page from your book of courage and actually let him see the depression. he was so kind to me, so compassionate and understanding. i needed that - to have someone see the darkness of it and react just as he did. i hate hate hate that others have to suffer as well, but since you do - thanks for your voice and the inspiration i needed that day.

Anonymous said...

Dysthymia is found twice as much in women as compared to men and this ratio does not depend on racial, ethnic or economic background. Until adolescence the rate of depression is not so much between boys and girls but after the age of approximately 12-13 it is more prevalent in girls, the reason could be the rapid changes in their physical, intellectual and hormonal constitution.