The days after returning from Amsterdam were busy and somewhat difficult. There is a lot of emotional upheaval inside me at the moment; things I can’t really put my finger on, but I have an inkling of what is going on, and it scares the shit out of me.
I visited family and friends last week; while it was lovely to see them again, there were some incidents which caused me to reflect on issues I try to keep at bay most of the times. I am not sure how to explain what I am talking about, but I will try: In the last couple of days, several people called me a ‘good person’ or even a ‘good soul’. My uncle and aunt told me that they love me the way I am, and my cousins made it clear how happy they are that, even though there are age gaps of 10-20 years among us, we all get along so nicely. So basically, there were a lot of rather sweet things said about and to me; however, I find all these things difficult to believe.
It’s not that I think these people are lying to me; it’s just that I feel like a fraud whenever people say positive things about me. “You are a good person” – No, I am not. “We love you the way you are” – Why? I recognise what these thoughts are and what they mean: It’s the black hole in my soul again, the one that is trying to suck me in and mangle me for what it’s worth. I hate the fact that I can’t appreciate the nice things people say to me, but I can also tell that matters are not as bad as they were two years ago. Back then, I was desperate to the point that I thought the only remedy for feeling whole again would be suicide; these days, I don’t feel the need to hurt myself and am actually quite content with most aspects of my life.
What’s killing me (not literally), though, is the sadness I feel. Instead of being happy about heartfelt compliments, they make me want to cry (and I cry a lot these days; on Sunday, I was crying while exercising in the gym, for the entire two hours I was there). From a scientific point of view, I know that my emotional state at the moment is very likely the result of some hormonal imbalance in my brain; a couple of neurotransmitters are playing up and not working the way they are supposed to work. But there is only that much you can rationalise away, especially when your emotions are running amok.
I know that this state will pass and things will get better. I also have no problem keeping all the appointments I have, including sports, drum sessions, and meeting friends, so it’s not like I am staying in bed all day and staring at the ceiling. But it still scares me that I feel this way; that positive things said to me have actually the opposite effect on my emotional state. These days, I am often reminded of something Teresa Enke said; her husband Robert, the German national goalkeeper at the time, committed suicide in 2009. A day later, his wife spoke about his battle with depression. One of her statements had a lasting impact on me, and it is something I still think about regularly: “We thought we could make it, that love can conquer everything, but sometimes it does not work like this”.
And maybe it is this insight which is the cause of my current sadness: That being loved and valued is not enough to make that black hole disappear. Just to be clear: I don’t expect to be “saved” by others, may it be family, friends, or a partner. Whatever feelings I have are my responsibility, and I need to find ways to deal on my own with the emotional fallout I experience from time to time. But it depresses me that, at least during these periods, I cannot appreciate the magnanimity others show towards me. I am still good at giving love, and I give it freely – I try to reassure others, listen carefully, help with problems, hug and kiss people, just to make them realise how much they mean to me. But I cannot seem to accept any love handed to me, which is a shame considering that this is a time when I would need it the most.
And that’s what scares me senseless.