Monday, April 4, 2011

Chronic Denial

I am a chronic denier. For example, I identify as having mild depression -- which sometimes means no depression -- even though depression kept me from attending more than a third of my classes my senior year of college, and has incapacitated me similarly over the past several months.

I've noticed that a lot of us vulvodynia bloggers are overachievers. I don't think overachievement correlates with vulvodynia; I think it correlates with blogging about vulvodynia. We take everything we do to the next level.

I haven't been an overachiever in a while -- due to my "mild-to-nonexistent" depression -- but I started out that way, and I haven't stopped trying to overachieve. Which I don't think of as overachieving. I think of it as just doing what everyone else does, right?

Overachieving isn't a problem as far as wanting to go beyond average. The problem is when "over" turns into "unhealthy." Perfectionism is one form; chronic denial is another.

In denying the degree of my depression, I'm saying that even though there are all these facts about depression, none of them apply to me. In turn, I'm saying that everything I do and feel is a choice. I blame my depression on me.

Which in turn makes me believe I have a corrupt personality. Who would choose to live this way? If I'm making the choice, what is wrong with me?

For a long time, I thought I could control my vulvodynia. Clearly I had done something wrong in my life; if I rectified whatever bad choices I had made, my vulvodynia would go away.

Food turned into pure and impure. If I ate purely, I'd make up for all the badness I'd done to my body by eating impurely.

Or if I'd just not had sex in a certain position, the pain never would have started. If I hadn't had sex casually. If I hadn't liked sex. If I had been more pure.

I think the underlying issue is control. In perfectionism, in chronic denial, in overachievement, we want to believe that we have a choice, even if it means we are bad to have chosen differently. But sometimes we don't have a choice. Really, really, really don't have a choice. I have severe depression, and I have pain that I didn't have any hand in creating.

I hate the thought of having severe depression. To me, severe depression is the people who left school mid-semester.

Oh wait, that was me.

But I never flunked out or got probation.

No, but I also had a sturdy disability document (for bipolar disorder) that made my professors accommodate me. Without it, I would've flunked at least three semesters.

But wait -- severe depression means disappearing, not being able to work---and I've always been able to work---

I can't even respond to that one here because I'm so embarrassed.

My wiser Esther swoops in at this point and reminds me that this isn't a shortcoming; it's a difference, and the key to a better life is figuring out which kind of life works for me.

My AmeriCorps term is up in August, and my host-site supervisor says they would like me to return for another year. I would like to return for another year, when I'm feeling good. When I'm feeling bad, I don't even want to go back tomorrow. I am so tired of fighting for it. I feel like I'm back in college -- my worst days, which I thought I had left behind for good.

My supervisor is very understanding and accommodating. She says I've done well, that my 60% is someone else's 100%. Overachievement.

I'm bonding with my service and those I serve. I will miss them if I don't stay for another term.

But I don't want to be unstable either. I CAN'T be. Should I keep doing something that makes me sick? Me first.

If I could find the right meds...level out...

Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.
-- Carl Jung


  1. OMG you just wrote what I have been thinking/crying about all day. My 'mild to non-existent' anxiety disorder, the one that made me drop out of college and not have a job for the past 4 years isn't actually 'mild to non-existent' at all. I just realised because I don't WANT to be one of those losers that has severe anxiety disorder and screws up their life...oh wait. Hardly anyone I know actually knows this about me, I'm evasive about my life they just think I'm kind of zany and flakey because I do all kinds of crazy things to make it seem like I only have 'mild to non-existent' anxiety disorder and that it hasn't eaten most of my 20's and started nibbling away at my 30's.

    Also have recurrent Vulvodynia, in the midst of a massive flair. Love your blog, it's bought comfort in dark times. Totally agree with the control issue point, have an almost chronic need to be perfect and burning (oh the irony) ambition/need to overachieve despite it all. Just writing this as I fall asleep hence crazy sentences but thank you, it helps so much to know I'm not alone. Good luck! x

  2. I couldn't help identifying with your post. I just found your blog and have been pouring over it. I didn't know this type of community existed. Thank you for your brave and honest words. How interesting that you identified a link between overachievers and vulvodynia bloggers. I have been suffering from mild depression and anxiety off and on since I discovered that I have FSD. I wonder who else has noticed these connections, because I sure know my doctors haven't...

    I love your Carl Jung quote. How true it is. Good luck with your decision! And thank you again.