My Broken Brain

I'm writing this to tell you, a random person, about my head. I don't know how you will feel after reading this, but I'd like to hear. This is not to show I have it worse than you, or better than you, or anything. It's just to give you a glimpse to one person's world. My world. The life I live day in, day out. How my strange broken brain works, and doesn't.

So, I'm depressed. I have been depressed for around 30 years. No, it's not a typo. I'm not young and I have suffered from this most of my life. It started when I was young. I didn't have an easy childhood, but I'm not going to say that caused this. I don't know what did. It doesn't really matter since the past cannot be changed. It has done its job and the only thing that can be changed is the future. If even that.

You might think that 30 years is a very long time to be depressed. It is. But that's the thing about depression, it's not just a moment of sadness or a bad day because something happened. It can be a lot more. It can be something completely overwhelming. Debilitating. And I guess I'm glad I'm still quite functional, even after all this time.

My depression has been considered mid-level or severe, depending on the time. That's a label that doctors put on things. It means that it affects my life a lot. For example, basically every day I want to die. Did that startle you? I didn't mean it to. Or maybe I did, a bit. I just want to get it clear that this is going to be quite open talk about the things that happen in my brain. I want you to get the whole picture.

So, dying. It's a constant feeling and it's been there for the whole time. It's not an active thing. Probably the simplest way to describe it would be to compare it to a long headache. It doesn't always affect you much, it isn't something you'd do anything about immediately and it isn't something you'd kill yourself for. Yeah, it's funny. Wanting to die, but wouldn't kill yourself because of it. And that's the strange thing: I'm not trying to kill myself. I just have the constant desire to die. To get away from this all.

I have considered suicide, many times. I'm too scared to do it. I don't know why. I could end it all and that would be it. But I guess there are still things I want to see in this world. There are things that matter to me. And I want to be here for them. Maybe someday the desire to die will get too hard to resist and something happens or I do something. Currently it is affecting my desire to take care of myself. I don't, really. Not well. I'm getting worse and worse every day. Not just mentally, also physically.

The sad thing is that I don't want that. I want to get better, physically and mentally. But I can't find the strength. I can't do it alone. And I don't usually let others help me either. There are people who have tried, but either it's not compatible with the help I need, it's too much or I'm just in a very bad place and I push them away. It just hasn't worked out.

My depression doesn't have a reason. That is the worst part of it. Or if it does nobody told me what it is. I don't have any stories to tell how this and that happened and it made me feel so bad. I can't work on a thing that makes me depressed since there isn't one. I'm just depressed. I have a black cloud around me, all the time. Every single moment of my life. And it doesn't go away no matter what I do.

This doesn't mean that I am never happy. I am at least happier sometimes. And I would say I am happy sometimes also. But it's not anything like "I had a good day." I don't really have good days. I have good minutes, good hours, that's pretty much it. There isn't really a day that would be at least "ok" all the way through. There will always be bad parts. Many times really bad ones.

I know that isn't anything special. Everyone has bad parts in their days. That's life, I know that much. And I did say I don't want to compare, but regular people don't usually want to kill themselves on a daily basis or jump from happiness to the depths of depression within minutes.

That made me sound like bipolar. I'm not, I have been told and I personally agree. I don't have those manic times when everything's amazing and things are well. I don't get that high. So I can't be bipolar, I'm just depressed.

I have another very funny thing about the dying part: I'm afraid I'll die. How's that for a twist? Many times in the evening when I go to sleep I'm scared like hell that I won't wake up in the morning. That my heart will just stop beating in my sleep and that's it. I have no reason to think it would happen, but I'm still scared.

You'd think that would be a good thing, since I want to die. But that's the mental part of this: it's not me who wants it. It's my brain. There's some part of my brain that wants it, badly. And the rest of my brain is scared that it will happen. At the same time. It's a conflict in programming and I have no idea why or what to do about it. How to handle it when they're both strong at the same time?

I can't really describe the actual daily feelings of depression or what it is to me that well. I wish I could. The usual "black cloud" or "hopelessness" or whatever fits quite well. But it's not a cloud around me. It's in me, around me, everywhere. It's like the ether in this world, everywhere and always present. Pressing on me, so strong. Never letting me forget things are bad. How? I don't know. They just are. Bad. Always.

It's not a feeling of sadness. It's more of a not feeling anything. Numbness. Nothing feeling like anything. Most likely a defensive mechanism, if nothing feels like anything then nothing can hurt you. But after a while everything feels way too much and everything is everything. All the pressure, all over me.

I may be laughing at a funny moment on tv or a joke I heard but when that passes I'm back to my normal. I'm feeling down. Depressed. Bad. Probably not super bad, but bad anyway. If only I could make that regular bad to be the baseline for being ok. But it doesn't work that way. It's not ok. It's still bad.

There is one thing I am bipolar about, though, if I can abuse the word. I don't like to since it makes the words become meaningless. But I will, in this case since it fits. I go from feeling confident about myself and skills to complete lack of confidence in anything. Usually I stay in the lacking side of things, just like with the depression. I don't believe in myself. I don't think I'll ever amount to anything.

Here's the thing: I have amounted to a lot. I've worked a lot, done many things, gotten a lot of praise. But to me it's just "anyone could do that." I don't feel like I've done anything special. Nothing is special. I only see the things that are lacking. I could've done that differently, I could've fixed that also, couldashouldawoulda. Always. Guess it's some kind of perfectionism that causes issues.

I also don't take praise well. Many people don't. It's awkward. Being in the spotlight, even for a moment. But for my brain it only goes to show that people don't really know anything. If they knew something they wouldn't congratulate me for a job well done when it was actually done quite poorly. You know, not perfectly. Those silly people, being happy for less than perfect and daring to praise me for it. Yeah, bad people. So says my brain.

After the depression and feelings of inadequacy I also have obsessive compulsive things. Many kinds of them. Some of them are little ones like wanting the mouse pad to be parallel to the table's edges. Having papers stacked properly. Some are slightly annoying, like having to eat in a certain way. If there's candy with several colors they have to be eaten one of each color. Not just me, others too preferably. If they are all the same then they have to be taken two at a time. Others also. No, you can't just take one. Ok, you can but you'll have to give another to someone else then. Two must come out at once. Four is also ok, I guess.

Change the volume on the TV? Sure, but it has to be a specific number. It has to go in a certain way. One device goes from 0 to 50, so it's ok to change that as long as it's steps of 5. 20 is ok, 25 also. 22? No, that's wrong. 24 also. No. Just put it to 25 then. Good. PC can go in increments of 10 there. Don't leave it at 86, put it to 90, please. Thank you.

Having food where some parts are very distinct. Like something with whole peas or beans in it. Have to eat those parts first. Then can have the rest. Feels bad to eat just whatever. Must take those first. Then it feels better.

Those may be the usual kind of OCDs you know about. And yes, I do get the "did I lock the door", "did I turn off the stove" and other things also. Probably everyone does. I don't need to go back to the door many times to check. Once is enough or I can just convince myself that I did lock it and that's fine. No problem there. But I also have some that are not talked about much, mostly because they don't show.

I have obsessive compulsive thoughts. They can be very disturbing and distracting. For example I used to have the urge to throw my wallet and phone out of the car when I was sitting in the front seat. I never did but I had a very strong urge to do it. It just didn't go away. I know this is how many people with OCDs feel, but for many it haunts them until they do it. Fortunately I can survive without doing it.

I have the urge to jump if I'm somewhere a bit high up. Fourth floor balcony? Yeah, a nice place to jump. Not related to any deathwish or anything, just a nagging feeling I should jump. Never have, again, but I have stayed away from such places sometimes because it feels bad.

While walking in the city I have urges to jump in front of the buses. Again, not a deathwish, just a strong desire to do something. Never have, fortunately. Wouldn't want to.

And here's the best part: walking in the city, on a bridge where on the other side is a drop to the water and on the other side buses going nicely. Where to walk so I don't accidentally do something about my urges? It's hell and I try not to do it sometimes. It feels so bad there.

Home, lying on the sofa with my partner I often have the urge to kick them in the head. You can imagine how horrible feeling that is. Or getting feelings like you really want to stab or punch someone. Not because they've done anything, it's just a random horrible urge. Of course I've never acted on them and hopefully won't, but think about having that feeling when you meet people.

I also have ADHD, or maybe ADD would be more specific if you want to separate those two. Mostly people seem to think ADHD is only about the hyperactivity. I'm not hyperactive (more than any random person), but my attention is badly deficit. Except when I get sucked into something. Then it can have all my attention for a very long time and I have no attention to anything else. Typical ADD behavior.

It affects the things I do somewhat. I'm sure most if not all people have the "I'll go to the kitchen to... what the heck was I going to do there?" moments sometimes. I get them constantly. I have a thought, I move my hand to the mouse or open a browser tab and the thought has already gone. Disappeared completely. No idea what it was about, was it important or not. It may come back someday, or I may have forgotten it completely. Think how this may affect work environment.

It's not only these sudden lapses in attention or memory. I also have a very bad memory. Well, good in some things, bad in others. I can remember the phone number we had when I was four years old. I can't remember with whom I watched a movie six months ago. Sometimes not even if I have seen that movie. I forget conversations. I have basically no memory of my childhood. I don't remember many things from after that. I can't sometimes answer when someone asks what I did today. I honestly don't know.

Time is completely unfathomable to me. Sure, I get the "but 1995 was just a couple of years ago" that everyone gets when they get older, but I also have no idea of timelines in other cases. When did I travel to some place? I know it was spring, but was it 5, 10, 20 years ago? I have to go through a lot of things in my head trying to piece together hints for it. I was living in that apartment, so it must've been at that time. Or I was working there, so it's before that but after those things. Consumes a lot of energy.

I get strong aversions from doing things. Everyone hates doing some things and tries not to do them, but that's not me. They may even be things I like. Still my brain makes it impossible to do them. It goes to the level of making me have physical symptoms. Migraine, vomiting, anything to stop it. For example I've had a day when I couldn't sit at my computer because just getting close to my desk caused me to almost vomit. For no reason. Nothing horrible to do, just handle a few daily tasks. But no.

I can't call people. I have a strong aversion to that. Friends or family, sure, but to take care of some issue or to call an unknown person, no. Not going to happen. Fortunately these days usually email works for everything, but sometimes it's still a problem. I've had other people call on my behalf on even some simple matters because I can't handle it.

Think about how that affects the ability to take care of yourself. Think about how that affects taking care of your work. Anything can cause a reaction, anything can push me away from doing it. And if I don't get physical symptoms my brain definitely keeps me from doing things otherwise. Remember that thing you were supposed to do, five years ago? Yeah, you won't do it now either, says brain. You won't. And it will haunt you.

So many things undone, so many things I cannot do anymore, lost opportunities, lost money, late fees... It's a huge amount of things that have not been handled.

Of course I could get help. A secretary, maybe? But that won't work. Things have to be done in a specific way. You do remember I have OCDs. And explaining things to someone would take more time than to do it myself. If I could do it, that is. So no, won't work. Nope, nope, nope. A neverending cycle of problems.

And then to top it off I have social issues. They're bad. Sometimes I feel very social but usually not. I can't keep friendships. I'm very friendly with people, would like to have people to do things with, but not today. Always not today. And that really doesn't keep people around much. Never seeing them, never doing anything, usually having a bad day so not keeping in touch. If the other always has to start the conversation or suggest things to do, it's not going to work. I know. And I can't help it. I wish I could.

There are so many things I'd like to do but I can't. My brain just doesn't want to do it now. I can always do it later. Maybe tomorrow. Next week. Next summer. Maybe go see an exhibit in a museum. Six months later it's over and I still haven't seen it. I just can't do it.

I'm usually also quite good at getting what people feel and what they mean behind the words. But how I react isn't always the right way. My brain may decide that I can't speak suddenly. I know what I'd like to say to comfort someone, but the words won't come out. I physically can't move my mouth. Sometimes maybe someone does a little small talk and I don't even realize to ask them how they are. Many little things I miss.

I also like people, but I don't like people. I like them as in there are many interesting people and I like to chat to them and whatnot. But I don't like them as in there are so many people all around, in workplaces, shops, streets and everywhere that don't think about others at all. Feel like having a loud chat in an open plan office with a person on the other side of the room? Sure, why bother going somewhere else, just shout and bother everyone in the room. Feel like listening to loud music every day in your apartment? Why would you care that there's someone trying to sleep or work in the next apartment and the music is preventing them from doing that.

No surprise I'm introverted. Very much so. I prefer not to socialize with people and if I have to it causes a lot of anxiety and takes a huge amount of energy. Spending an evening with people in a restaurant requires a lot of quiet time at home afterwards. Can't manage otherwise.

I like to help people. I like to feel useful. Sometimes I go too far and take care of them a bit too much so they don't have to learn how to do it themselves. That's bad. And it's very surprising, considering I can't take care of myself even. But others are completely different matter. That I can do. And I do a bit too much even for people I barely know. You need someone to drive you to some place? Ok, I don't have anything else to do, I can take you. No need to pay or thank me, I'll just do it.

Took a long time to get rid of some of that. Finally I realized that people wouldn't like me anyway even if I did that. Or if they did, or pretended to, then it was just because I did things for them. Not because they actually liked me. So why bother. Out with them.

Many times I don't understand people. I seriously can't understand their motives or reasons for anything. Not understanding their humor is one thing and easily dismissed. We have different tastes. But when people do something completely unfathomable to me, something I really can't wrap my head around and to others it seems to be just a regular thing to do. I try to ask people why they think or do something or consider something important but usually that's seen as hostility and they can't understand that someone wouldn't know and is just asking to be able to understand.

My brain is also used to people just saying things if they want to. If they feel good, bad, something happened, whatever. I'm not one to ask dozens of questions when I meet a new person. I rather volunteer information about myself and they can do so to. Of course I ask things, but it's just more natural to me that people tell things they want to tell. Just like I do. But so many don't do that. Then they don't want to talk to me since I don't care about them. Of course I do, I just don't necessarily end every sentence with "how about you?" when I say something. They can talk without asking.

I'm usually very frank. I would like people to be frank with me also. I'm the one who says "actually I'm feeling like shit today" when someone asks how I am. I know they don't actually mean to ask it but I don't care. I want people to wake up into the real world, world where not everyone is ok. Where people actually can trust others and tell them it's not a good day. Where we don't need to pretend things are fine.

I would love that world. I would love if I could actually be me, show how I feel. Show what I'm like on the inside. And people would understand I'm still a nice person, a good friend and all the things anyone else could also be. But I can't do that with everyone. Only with a very few people.

I have a very strange feeling all the time. I don't know if others have it or not. But I feel like I'm not really this person here. I mean I know I am physically here and all, but I feel like I'm living only in a part of my brain and a lot of it is not actually me. All these bad things stopping me from doing things, the depression, they feel like they're bad acting roommates in my head. They're not me, really. But they still affect me a lot. They are there for people to see and judge me.

One thing that might also promote this feeling is the fact that I have a brain tumor. No, not cancer, just a tumor. Something I was born with and for some reason hasn't even grown as much as they usually do. But it is in a nasty place. In a place that controls memory and feelings, for example. So think about how it feels to find this out and think "is this actually me or is this tumor causing this?" Is all that's happening to me, all these feelings, problems, issues, are they because of a physical thing?

I will probably never know since it's not going to be cut out. Doctor's wouldn't recommend it and I don't want anyone to go poking in my brain. And in the end, does it matter? This is me. All of it. Even if I don't feel like a whole, even if I feel I'm just a part of this. If it was due to a tumor and it was removed would it help? Would it change me into something else? Something different? Would I like that person if it did? That's a terrifying thing to think about.

Many people seem to always have some suggestion on how to fix things, or make it better. You know, just do things. Just start small. This and that. You know what? I've tried a lot of things. It hasn't fixed it. Some things have made it a bit better but all in all I'm still a mess. There's nothing you can say that would fix it. It's not about not exercising, having a more positive look on life, eating better or this or that. It's not about taking baby steps when I can't even do that.

I'm not saying there's nothing that will ever help me. I hope there is. But I don't know what it is and after trying to get things better for this long I'm running out of energy. Probably have a long time ago. That's why I crash so hard into depression sometimes. I just don't have the energy to do anything.

I've been told that there are people who care about me. To that I have to say that it doesn't matter. I don't mean that I don't care if someone cares about me. Of course everyone needs people like that. What I mean is that it doesn't make things any better for me. Especially if they just keep their distance. If they're friends in the good times but not on the bad times. And as I mentioned I don't usually make it easy for anyone to be my friend when things are especially bad.

There are also a lot of people who have gone through some of the things I have. There are people with issues. With this and that. Again, doesn't matter. Not that I wouldn't be sympathetic towards them, but it also doesn't change the way I feel. It's the same as in a country in the middle of a war. Nobody would say it's an ok situation since "everyone is affected." No, it's still bad. It's an absolute, it's not relative to others. So others don't matter in this sense.

Then there are the people keeping up the "it gets better" talk. I can tell you it's complete and utter nonsense. Yes, for some people some things get better. They have for me also. But to brush things off with "it may feel bad now, but in the future it'll be better" is bad. That's not caring. That's dismissing. And what would they say to me, after trying for 30 years and waiting for it to get better? That I have to wait another decade? That I already have things better so shouldn't complain? Something else?

No. It just doesn't always get better. Maybe some part will. It's like losing an arm. Sure, the wound heals, so in that way it gets better, but you're still missing an arm. It didn't grow back. It didn't get better. You probably learned to live without it, but that doesn't mean it's better. It's worse, very much so. But you know how to live with it.

So no, it doesn't get better. You just learn to live with it. Or you don't. That may also happen. I'm being realistic here. I've seen things happen. And it's up to everyone to choose how they want to deal with it. Some even choose to end it. And that's not a coward's choice. It may be the bravest thing they've ever done. And some say it's a selfish thing. So? If nothing else helps why would that person need to suffer, just so others can feel better having the person alive? Isn't that a lot more selfish?

I probably won't commit suicide since I still haven't. I will continue living with this broken brain. Living a broken life, trying to survive from one day to the next, to keep the parts that make me happy. But most likely I'll never be able to get rid of the depression, the nagging feeling I'm not good enough, the scare that I'll die, the desire to die, the problems with my memory, inability to take care of things... It'll all be there. That's how my brain is. That's how I am, I guess. I don't want to but I don't know how to change it. I'm afraid I can't.

So that's a little glimpse into my life and my brain. There's more, I'm sure. But enough about me. How are you? Honestly. You can tell me.

Thanks to a friend for setting this up to keep myself anonymous. Today's world still carries such a stigma for people with mental health issues that it's not wise to talk about them openly.

Comments (1) -

  • You just described me.  I feel like I could have written this.  I can't believe it- word for word, minus a brain tumor- that I know of.  Good job.  Amazing description.  I am so glad I don't feel alone.  Nothing helps.  I feel like I can't even go see another fucking therapist, because I've seen soooooo many, and I have soooooo much trauma- that I just can't.  I can't even.  I need help too.  I feel ALL of this.

Add comment