I wanted to share this link with you, and my comments to the author’s confession. It is such a tough journey to make from depression to health. I hope this helps.
I recognised so much of myself in what you wrote. I write fiction. This grounds my search for identity. It was only once I admitted to being depressed – not the colloquial, everyday ‘depressed’ that people use instead of saying ‘sad’, but the big-D depressed, when your world implodes and there is nothing you can do about it – it was only then that I was able to identify a recurring theme in my writing. All my characters undergo identity crises. These differ in type, intensity and texture, but ultimately the motif is always there.
“How could I express this bizarre lack of identity or the way I swap and change personality to please the company I keep?” you say.
I believe we all do that in our teens, when we haven’t quite figured out who we are. Mimetic behaviour is also normal in adulthood, it is akin to empathy, but of course, what you refer to goes far deeper than that. It comes I believe from a deep-seated need for acceptance. From a belief that we are not enough. Truth is, you are enough. We always demand more of ourselves than others ever do. Depression intensifies the pain, and makes it difficult for us to have a positive self-image.
“Would he understand the secret emotional immaturity, like a child pretending to be an adult?” you continue.
Pretence… We all do it. Most of us most of the time, or perhaps some of us some of the time, fake it. Sometime we make it, other times we don’t. There is nothing wrong with keeping the child within alive, but I would like to hear more from you about this. I am not sure I fully grasped what you meant by it.
“How do I admit an inability to sustain friendships or relationships? Is it significant that I told my partner to leave because I was terrified of his abandonment?”
Attack as a form of defence. Building walls. Keeping all at a distance. Depression does that. Admitting that it is not you, but the depression in you that makes all this happen, can help lift the burden of guilt. A small step perhaps, but a step in the right direction nonetheless.
“Do I even recognise that the chronic emptiness is anything other than “normal”?”
This hollowing out is the worst thing that depression does. We project all that is good outwards, and are left completely empty. I don’t have the answer to how the process can be reversed. Acceptance. Perseverance. Openness. Every attempt can make a difference. In time…
You story-telling technique is wonderful. The twist unexpected. Thank you.