Underneath my yellow skin

Ripping off the mask

don't look behind the mask.
A perfect facade.

Sometimes, I feel as if I have a split personality. Not in the clinical definition of the word, but in the vernacular. There’s the me at home. I’m in sweats and a t-shirt, my hair in a sloppy bun. I sit/lie on the couch most of the day as I madly type away on my computer, and it’s only recently that I’ve been forcing myself to get up roughly every other hour or so to do my stretches. If you could see a picture of my brain waves, it would be a flat-line with only dips and no spikes.

I know it’s the depression talking, but I don’t see any reason to live. I’m not being dramatic. I don’t actually want to die (I never did. Not even when I was at my most suicidal–which I’m not); I just don’t see any reason to be alive. Nor do I think that many people would actually miss me if I were gone. Let me be clear. I am not going to kill myself, but I can’t motivate myself to do much other than meander through my so-called life.

I’m mostly numb these days. I know I need to see a therapist, but I don’t want to go through the bother of finding a new one. It’s been four or five years since my last therapist and I mutually terminated, and it took me forever to find her. I am not an easy client, and I can fully acknowledge that. I know too much of the lingo, and I’m very good at manipulation of people. I’m not proud of it, but I have to acknowledge it. I try to not do it because it makes me feel slimy, and I’ve watched my father charm the pants off people (especially women) throughout my life.

Another thing I made clear to my last psychologist is that I need someone to call me on my shit. I get into my head and the weeds way too much, and I can run in circles around most people when I choose to. I can use the psych lingo to justify anything or to explain anything, and to anyone with a lesser perception, what I’m saying makes perfect sense. i told my therapist I would try to do this to her, and I needed her to see through it and put her foot down. She was more than capable of doing so, but I had therapists previous to her who simply weren’t.

I’m going to say it. I know it’s going to sound elitist, and it is, but it’s a big barrier to me finding a good therapist. I need someone who is nearly as intelligent as/as intelligent as /more intelligent than I am. It’s not just a matter of respect, but I cannot be helped by someone who cannot keep up with me mentally. My last therapist actually clarified something for me that I couldn’t quite understand. I was complaining about a bad interaction I had with an eBay seller and how no matter how I explained my side to her, she just couldn’t get it. I poured out my frustration at not being eloquent enough or finding the right words, and my therapist cut me off. She said, “Minna. You’re speaking at Level 5 or 6. Most people understand things around a Level 2. She literally cannot understand what you’re saying, and there’s no perfect words you could say that would change that.”

I know it doesn’t sound revolutionary when I state it here, but it really hit me like a ton of bricks. She mentioned the little-talked-about finding of the Dunning-Kruger effect, which is that people who are smart or good at something underestimate the difference between their own knowledge/skill and other people’s. Most people know the Dunning-Kruger effect as people with low abilities greatly overestimating their own skills, but the other part is more interesting to me because it affects me personally. I’ve talked about it with my brother as well because he gets frustrated when other people can’t understand what he’s saying.

I’ve known I’m smarter than most people for much of my life. Before my therapist’s enlightening comment, however, I thought the gap was small. In addition, all my friends are really smart in one way or another, so I’ve never felt the gap that keenly until I talk to people outside my self-selected circle. It’s one reason I don’t comment in forums and blogs, however, because it’s just frustrating to me to see people fixated on something or the other without seeing the bigger picture. I can see a million points of view when thinking about any given issue, and I have a hard time understanding why other people can’t see it my way as well.

I need a therapist who can see things from many different points of view, and that’s not easy. My last therapist was pretty good at it, but by the end of our time together, I started to see the areas in which she was limited. I credit her and taiji for helping me claw my way out of crippling depression, and while, yes, I outgrew my last therapist at the end of our time together (not a bad thing!), she’s set a high bar for future therapists to come. I couldn’t run rings around her, and she called me out on my shit. She also had many alternatives to suggest to me, such as a body-worker, a tarot card reader, and a naturopath. She also prescribed more traditional methods such as drugs (well, she told me which one, and my doctor would prescribe it for me), and we did a lot of talk therapy. However, we also did EMDR (not helpful) and EFT (very helpful), and just the fact that she was open to alternatives made me more comfortable.

Back to my other personality. It’s my talking-to-other-people face. One of the things that bemuses me about my depression is that I can appear lively and engaged to other people, even when I’m deep into my depression. I know it stems from when I was a kid, and it was clear that my emotions didn’t matter. My father’s mattered to the point where the rest of us had to tiptoe around him, and my mother’s mattered in that she talked endlessly about her depression at me (yes, at. Not to or with, but at). My emotions? No. I wasn’t allowed to show any negative emotion, and I got yelled at if I showed a whiff of anger. Also, even though my father was allowed to sulk and mope and not speak to anyone for hours, I wasn’t.

Put all this together, and even to this day, I have a hard time telling other people that I’m depressed, unhappy, sad, or angry. I can talk about being irritated because I’m sick, but I’ll even downplay that. It’s as if there’s a switch inside my brain, and the minute I’m talking to someone else, June Cleaver comes out of me, demanding that I be the hostess with the mostest. The only time I can’t do that is when my depression is at its absolute worst, and I just avoid other people at that point because everything comes out flat. However, most of the time, I can mask my depression fairly well.

For example. I woke up feeling really shitty yesterday–both physically and mentally. I dragged myself to taiji because I knew I’d feel better after, even if I had to struggle through it. I chatted brightly with my teacher and my classmates, and then went to the co-op after to stock up on provisions. I mildly flirted with the cute cashier who was probably twenty years younger than I, and then I dropped it all on the drive back. Once I got home, I assumed my previous position of couch potato, and I struggled with the negative chatter in my head.

I’ve said before that depression is frustrating as hell for me because I know enough about it to be impatient that it’s happening. I have no external reason to be depressed, and I know it’s just a manifestation of my brain (chemical reaction, whatever), but there’s still a sense of ‘why the fuck can’t you get over this’? I know I need to see a therapist. I don’t want to have to find one. I know what I need in a therapist (more culture awareness would be high on my list for a new one), but I really don’t know if one exists. I need someone as smart as I am or close. Someone who can think about issues on multiple levels. Someone who can see the intersectionality of my problems. Someone who is flexible when it comes to solutions, and someone who won’t be fooled by the facade that I’m able to pull together when I try.

It’s a big ask. I’m exhausted just thinking about it, and I wouldn’t know how to start looking. I found my last therapist because of a recommendation. It was weird, however, because she did not have as high an opinion of the woman who recommended her (another psychologist) as vice-versa. Even weirder, the recommender is a friend/colleague of my mother and I agree with my therapist’s assessment of her. Anyway, I would not go back to the original recommender for another recommendation. It’s a crapshoot looking for a therapist, and one I’m not looking forward to diving into.

 

 

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