I wonder if people without these diseases know how much we hate ourselves for having them.
There’s a shocking amount of self-loathing that comes along with anxiety and depression. Even though I’ve educated myself, even though I’m a huge advocate for being open and honest about my diseases, even though I never hold anyone else’s diseases against them, today I hold my diseases against me. Today, I hate myself.
I pride myself on being a strong person, see. I don’t cave to other people, I stand up for myself without being a strident bitch, I’m firm and unyielding when it comes to calling people on their bullshit. I’m outgoing and friendly, but I will not hestiate to shut the door on someone who doesn’t treat me well or at least with respect. You don’t have to like me, but you don’t get to act like an asshole to me and think I’ll put up with it.
Today started fine. Then there was a discussion online about how men, good men especially, are often simply blinkered to the fact that women, by and large, have to maintain a defensive mindset at all times. It’s completely foreign to them that we habitually avoid dark areas in parking lots or do not take an empty stairwell if we’ve seen one lone strange man go down just before us. We do not stop at gas stations late at night if there are no other cars there unless it’s that or run out of gas. That’s just our default. It’s so automatic in most women, we don’t even think about it anymore. We just take constant precautions and keep a constant lookout.
And still we get assaulted, raped, harassed, and told “Well if you hadn’t/weren’t _______…” If you had worn a longer skirt. If you had locked your door. If you weren’t walking alone. Because no matter what precautions we do take, there’s always one we didn’t and if we had just done THAT, then it wouldn’t have happened. It is our fault.
What they mean, I suspect, is “Of course that guy shouldn’t have attacked you, but there were things you could’ve done too.” They just leave that first part out. Really, it wouldn’t matter if they put it in there because let’s face it, victim-blaming is bullshit. Ok, sure, you shouldn’t leave your purse sitting out on the table while you go off to play pool or whatever. You can’t leave your car unlocked with the keys in it and then be shocked when someone steals it. Truthfully, I’m not sure where that line is, and I suspect most people aren’t.
So anyway, after all that, someone linked a (very brave, very horrifying) story about her particular rape and how she learned that a) men don’t know how to react to a woman who says “I’ve just been raped”, b) victim-blaming is all about making someone who feels horrible feel even worse, and c) when you’re attacked you suddenly realize how little you know about anyone. Her attacker, who covered her head so she couldn’t see him, could’ve been anyone. The person she reported it to. The neighbor she never really got to know who seemed to have a sweet, boyish crush on her. A total stranger. Anyone.
That was the end of my peaceful day. I couldn’t breathe around the pressure in my chest. I could taste my own heart in the back of my throat (it tastes like nickles, btw). My palms were actually, honestly, cliche-filled sweaty. And I had to leave for work in about 5 minutes. I took the dogs out for one last wee. My next door neighbor, who’s seemed a very nice guy, said hi and waved. I bolted for the door.
I went to work anyway. Just go, I told myself. Power through it. You’ll feel better, and avoidance only ever makes fear worse. Avoidance never helps. Go to work, once you get into the routine you’ll calm down. I went. I logged in. I started to work. I realized I had tears running down my face. My hands wouldn’t stop shaking. I had to give up. I had to surrender. I had to go home.
And now I hate myself. I hate that I can’t win, that I’m not strong enough to get through it. I hate that I have to, HAVE TO, back off. I do not back off, not from anything. Not from anything but this. It makes me feel weak, and while I’d punch in the brain anyone else who told me I was weak for giving in to a panic attack, I cannot punch my own brain. I try to answer myself with sympathy, with kindness. I try to treat myself as I would treat other people, with the same level of respect and understanding.
But mostly, right now, I’m just sick of my shit and am tired of putting up with me. That’s something I think I’ll need to address in therapy next time. I wonder if people who have to deal with us, who get sick of our shit and get tired of putting up with us, know that we often feel the exact same way about ourselves. I wonder if they know that this feeling is part of what makes it so hard to lean on other people or to reach out for help. After all, if I’M sick of my shit, it stands to reason that everyone else is, too.
Logically, I can say that I’m not psychic and I have no idea how everyone else feels about me and my bad days. Emotionally, I know they’re fed up. Emotion never answers to logic. I can tell myself all day long that other people are supportive, that they care, that they want to help. I can tell myself that all these “I know what they’re thinking” stories are fiction I’m making up and I should make up better stories because these stories suck ass. I can even hear all that from other people. Emotion never answers to logic.
It’s crippling, and it feeds right back into the bullshit loop. I feel bad, I hate myself for feeling bad, I think everyone else must be tired of this shit too, I feel worse. It’s like one of those loop-de-loop roller coasters, only you can’t stop the ride and basically everyone starts barfing on each other which just makes everyone barf more.
Anyway, I wonder if people without these diseases know how much we hate ourselves for having them.