What is it that I am not seeing?
I am smart and can put two and two together. Well, I can when both twos are visible. If I cannot see one of the variables, I have a much harder time producing the correct answer. Plus, the correct answer to a math problem is much less complex than answering a question that involves two people.
There must be a piece of the puzzle I have missed.
Recently, it’s as if I am the trigger, and whatever I do or say set’s her off. Even the act of having a present to give her can trigger what I percive as her ire. What I hear, regardless of what the intent was, is “WTF, can’t you see I am looking at the gift I just got. Stop crowding me with your gift.” It is much less karsh than that, I am sure, but thats not the way I hear it through depression’s filter.
There is very often a difference between what is said and what is heard.
There is no way I am blameless in this or any interaction. During a board game last night, I thought she had finished her turn and I began to play. I know the pause was just a pause and there was another piece to be played. I did not recognize that and was primed to play quickly to avoid hearing “what are you waiting for, it’s your turn?”
And then I was on the receiving end of a verbal outburst that seemed to me was making others at the table slightly uneasy.
Or that was my perception. But there was a pause, then some humor from others to lighten up the mood. What I am seeing, and hearing once again may not be what or how the comment was meant. But it was clear to me, that I had touched a sore spot. My actions triggered a reaction, but I am not sure where it comes from.
Living with a partner, me, who has depression cannot be easy.
I have undercut many of the plans we made together. But early on, something set our roles in place. We had a plan, but neither of us knew that depression was going to be a third wheel. The onset of our relationship had come shortly after my first major depressive episode.
I often say it in a joking way that 1977 was my lost year.
Not wanting to think about the what or why of my depression, I based my recovery on running. I began walking in the evenings as an escape from myself and my thoughts. This led to running and daily yoga stretches. Soon, I was running 4 to 6 miles every day, or more. And I was running 6 to 7 days a week.
By the end of the following summer, I was in the best shape of my life.
I had run the ½ mile in high school. Our workout sessions after school included five-mile runs on the Yorktown VA battlefield tour roads. My high school was a few hundred yards from where one of these gravel roads went under the main highway in front of the school.
We would swing down the hill onto the national park tour road and away we would go towards surrender field, or one of the redoubts.
Often on the way back to the school, we would see 40 to 70 deer in the fields edging the tour roads. These were inspiring and I was always on the lookout for them. With few predators and thousands of acres of grass and woods, deer in the National Park were prolific.
When I needed a way to feel normal again, I am not surprised that I began running.
I have once again shifted my gaze away from my thoughts about what’s going on. Being a trigger for someone is not trust or relationship building. At least not in a positive, healthy way. Yet with over 40 years of life together, we have been very close at times and sometimes far apart. The fact that we are both heading in the same direction helps. Counseling has been effective too, giving us tools to grow closer.
As we evolve, I know we grow and our focus changes.
Talking about “what’s next” can be a starting point for new beginnings. But if I am a trigger now for all the things I did or didn’t do, how is that helpful? Listening to depression for over 40 years, I have missed many cues that may have helped me be less of a trigger.
I know that there is work to be done.
If I can understand the reasons behind the responses, I can decide how I will proceed. It is possible, though unlikely, that the responses have little to do with me. I am just using depression’s unhelpful thinking to magnify what I hear, feel guilty for some reason, and then magnify the guilt, making it all my fault.
Depression, in little, everyday ways, is calling the shots.
Or it has enough of my attention to create an unhelpful thinking style. What jumps out at me when I am asked a question is minimizing, or all-or-nothing kind of thinking. Guilt too is present as I establish the parameters to be considered. A myriad of thoughts rush into my head, colliding and tripping over each other to get to the head of the line. Mostly I am quickly trying to figure out what the correct answer is.
What I feel as I am asked questions is percieved guilt regardless of whether it is actually present.
Then I feel shame because I feel I should have known the answer. Now I am shoulding all over myself. By now the original question, as innocent as it may have been, is wrapped up in depression’s guilt, and shame. All I can do is dance around attempting to not get should all over myself. And typically, I am not successful.