Claudine’s Little Black Book of Depression

Chapter Five

And then there’s my deep, dark secret. I’ve had it forever. Someone close to me at the time got me started. That person’s dead now.

Considering its illegality, I’ve had amazing luck. Brushes with the law: 2.5. Smooth sailing: 1,000+. Years engaged in activity: 35+.

I don’t think it’s okay or anything. When I do it it’s like a different, irrational person takes over. “Go ahead. You can do this. It’s okay. Why not?”

I have tried to get help. Whenever I’ve brought it up, the therapist in question (and there’ve been a few) blows his or her top. They try to scare me out of it. “If you get caught you’ll be treated like a criminal.” No one has ever reacted calmly, or with the neutrality I suspect I need to truly face it. I realize that takes a certain type of person, and even more specifically, a certain type of therapist.  I’ve always backed away from discussion after their reaction. I don’t mean to, exactly….or do I? Fear and scolding aren’t going to do the trick, obviously. Then again, I’ve wondered if I really want to stop. When I listen for the answer, I feel my id actively battling my super-ego: “Yes! No.”

Of course I make resolutions. “Don’t go there so you won’t be tempted.” Or, “At least stay far from home if you’re going to do it.” Or, most importantly, “Not if the dogs are with you.” I’ve broken all of these promises to myself, and more than once, at that.

The thing is, it’s been a fairly useful compulsion. It’s brought me pleasure when I’ve been very low, and helped me achieve an outward presentation of success, or at least moderate competence. And I don’t think I’ve really hurt anybody personally. It’s stretching to say I’ve provided jobs, but if I were more defensive about it, I think I might try that line of argument.

The thing is that people do stuff. They lie about it and cover it up and deny it left and right, but they do stuff. They take drugs and steal and cheat and screw each other over. They drive drunk and let others down and secretly smoke. They lust in their hearts. They’re casually cruel to animals. I know that saying this doesn’t make what I do okay, and that as far as a useful argument in court, I’d get laughed into a jail cell. (More likely thrown hard, knowing the police.) I’m trying to put what I do in the context of general rotten behavior. It’s self-justification.

A famous person got in trouble for the same thing once. It was career-ruining. Authors have written about people like me, and there’s an almost-national support group which I might consider attending if it were in my area, but  the group’s progenitor (book; website) wanted me to call him to discuss starting something local, which I was and am never ever going to do. I don’t want to be the public face. I don’t have the courage.

Strangely, I have thought about what it would be like to talk about it from a stage, such as from an open mike, or one of those confessional podcasts. I’m sure I’d get heckled like crazy, but I can probably stand that. I’m not un-sarcastic, but I’m somewhat out of practice since my departure from Chicago. I’d lose friends and alienate family, and that would suck. I’m not the kind of person people stick by, but that’s another problem, right……or is it?

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