Thursday, May 3, 2012

Guest Matt Blogs For Mental Health: 'Doors'

A guest blog entry for Mental Health Month 2012. If you would like to submit a story for the month of May please contact us. Thanks. Mental Health Awareness Month: 2012


Mental health blog party badge
Since this is a guest blog, I'm not going to try to talk about how depression affects my everyday life. I'm just gonna choose one aspect of it and discuss how it has affected me through the years.

Since I was quite young (teens I think though my memory of those days is not great) I have had a problem walking through doors. Sound odd? Maybe it is. I remember as a teen if I ever had to go to the shop, I would walk down there, no problem, but when I got outside I would pause. If the door was transparent, I'd spend some time looking through it to see who was in the shop, whether I could see the thing that I wanted, whether the guy behind the counter was in a good mood, that kind of thing. The thought of having to spend time looking for what I wanted in a strange room, or worse, having to ask for it, horrified me. That was just me being shy of course, many teens experience that I think. What was worse was the idea that I might have to walk into the shop when there were people already in there. The instant I walked through the door, I thought, everyone would turn and look at me. An instant judgment would take place and the poor hapless creature that had the temerity to walk into a shop to buy something would be mocked, ridiculed and have missiles thrown at him. It sounds ridiculous I know, and I think I knew it then but head was incapable of overruling heart in such matters. 

At the time parents had written this behaviour off as teen shyness, and I think I did too. Fast forward a few years then. I'm beginning my 2nd year at college. I am required to go to one of the computer rooms (no, not every room, this was back when you could still hand in essays in your own handwriting) to register for my 2nd year. The room is on the 3rd floor of one of the university buildings, it is behind a thick wooden fire door. There are 5 days in which to register, today is Monday. "Let's get this out the way then" I say to myself. I walk into college, up the stairs, right up to the door and I can't see through it. I almost made it up to the door but at the last minute turned on my heel and walked on past the door, down the next flight of stairs and out of the building. As I'm walking I think "what happened there then?" Confused I try again, circling around back to where I started, up the stairs, to the door, and just keep going on and out the building again. What the Fuck?

A couple more tries at this and I give up and rationalize to myself that I have another 4 days to register. This happens again on Tuesday and Wednesday. By Thursday I'm starting to worry that I may have to quite the course because I can't register. Now I'm weighing up this consequence against telling my folks that I wasted all that money they saved up to help me through college. I considered it, I actually considered it. I registered on the Friday afternoon, just before the deadline. The feelings of nausea and dread before I walked into the room were astonishing. I'm not sure I can describe them here but I was very nearly physically paralyzed. Once in the room I relaxed. Very few people in there, all too preoccupied to even look at me. The guy who worked for the college came over and asked me if I needed help immediately, we talked, I got registered, I went home feeling pretty relieved and pleased with myself.

This was not an isolated incident by any means, just the one I remember the most. I actually missed a whole term of seminars because, having arrived at the 1st one late, it had already started, and the door was closed. That was the end of that module for me, how could I explain my absence at the 1st seminar if I went to the 2nd. How ridiculous would I look then? I did the reading and passed anyway of course.

So what's going on here? Well as I said earlier it seems to be the assumption that, once you've entered a room, everyone will look, judge, and mock. Does that sound self-absorbed? It really isn't. It is based on the assumption that I look (and am) so pathetic, so obviously inadequate that few can glance at me for the first time and not be horrified by what they see. Of course, what people think of you is more important when you're young; this effect has lessened with time. Appearing at least adequate is nowhere near as important to me as it was back then and I now get by, walking through closed doors almost at will. These thoughts are still there, but I can ignore them.

There are far more crippling aspects of depression that would have a far greater effect on me if It were not for my medication and other help from family and friends. I just wanted to share this relatively small but often seemingly insurmountable aspect of it. Also, because of this article here. [Sorry, but Christianity Doesn't Cure Depression ]
Thank you Matt, for your guest entry, and sharing your story.

~F et al

No comments:

Post a Comment