The Evil Twin.
“My friends say my mind’s like a bad neighbourhood, and that I shouldn’t go in there alone.”
Sharon Stone. Seriously.
It would seem Sharon and I have something in common, strangely.
I’ve always regarded my mental states kind of like neighbourhoods. I have lived in a wide variety – some serene, some chaotic, some lonely, some colourful and exciting.
Today, I am passing through this place:
But I’m working to get BACK HOME to this place:
Some years ago I lived in the worst mental neighbourhood I have ever had the displeasure of residing in. It was loud, busy and overcrowded, yet I felt alienated and isolated. It was like everyone spoke a language I did not understand – not even those “close” to me could reach me. I felt completely disconnected from my neighbours and my own senses. Everything was tasteless, colourless.
In every mental neighbourhood, I always reside with a twin. With each neighbourhood, the nature, character and voice of that twin changes.
During this period of time, I documented the savagery of my then twin’s abusive voice in a diary. This week, I reopened its pages for the first time in a long time. The below entry is typical of what I wrote in it during that period of my life:
OCTOBER 1 2005.
I HATE you I HATE you I HATE you I HATE you I HATE your life.
You’re ugly you’re worthless you don’t deserve love.
You are a mistake. I wish you were dead.
I want to be.
What. The. Hell.
Self loathing and genuine thoughts of self-harm. RAGE… turned completely inward.
This is the voice of my old twin: DEPRESSION.
She’s a diabolical witch.
And she used to make me put up with things – emotions, maltreatment, neglect, self-denial – that no self-respecting human being would.
I continue to keep the diary partly as a reminder to be vigilant in never returning to that shitty postcode. Perhaps, also, to remind myself to be thankful that I no longer reside there. And to remind myself that this twin is dead.
Unfortunately, she isn’t. Although I have a new, helpful, supportive twin, that twin still visits me. Lately, she has been visiting me a lot. My new twin is young, not as loud, proud, or strong as old twin is. Old twin is haughty, superficial, aggressive, dangerous. New twin is easily overpowered by her hateful predecessor.
I am keenly aware that old twin remains a peripheral threat; menacing outside my mental abode, waiting for me to forget to lock a door or a window so she can enter, light a match to everything, and wreak havoc. And she has, over and over again. Without knowing, sometimes, I find myself unconsciously under her influence, allowing myself to put up with situations and treatment that in my heart I know I don’t deserve. Make decisions that I know are bad for me. Yet such is the nature of her corrosive influence.
I feel her presence, when I can’t sleep, because she won’t let me. Her telepathic voice drowns out all other voices and thoughts when I’m feeling weak or at low ebb. She is the devil on my back, the thorn in my side… the voice in my head. Trying to dissuade me from everything good I am striving to achieve.
My twin is not interested in merely instilling self-doubt. She wants to destroy me. She wants me to fail, and suffer, and die, a slow, excruciating death. She wants me to hate me as much as she does. Once upon a time, I listened to her, and I did.
I am thankful – so thankful – I do not live with her perpetually anymore. But she remains a very real and almost supernatural threat to me – a demonic figure that I have been fighting to banish with as much light and love as possible.
These days, the question that itches away in my mind is where all her hate comes from. I cannot pinpoint an action or crime in my past that would warrant this level of abuse. It is so visceral, so extreme that I would never, and have never, felt it for any other human being. So why does she – why do I – direct it at myself?
I’ve no answer, none at all.
Instead I wonder just how many other people out there torture themselves in the same manner. I know I am not alone, because I have met and commiserated with people who share the same affliction. And I wish I did have an answer, one that would somehow cure us all, liberate us from this infirmity.
Cracks everywhere… but the light shines through
Life has been particular tough of late, for various reasons I wont go into too much detail about here. Suffice to say, things are… challenging. On all life fronts. Watching your mother cry over “insufficient funds” and the next mortgage payment is an altogether disturbing and heart-breaking experience. Furthermore, I’ve finally had to concede that fighting the old twin, the evil twin, has become too great a task for me alone. Despite my best efforts to distract myself, my doctor has recommended medication to assist in that particular endeavour. Which is a huge relief, quite frankly. If they’re good enough for Sarah Silverman, they’re good enough for me.
Fighting the evil twin is, of course, related to all other problems in my life right now, including financial. A combination of physical illness (which I have written about previously) and depression forced me to go part time with my studies last year, after depressive episodes began (again) in late 2009 (following three years of relative freedom). Though my creative writing hasn’t been adversely affected (actually, it has been positively affected, according to a trusted and highly critical confidant) the ball-breaking episodes totally fuck me over in terms of day-to-day functioning.
Which only induces more guilt and shame that I can’t do more for my family right now – not until I heal myself and find some sort of balance. But, la familia is super supportive – their loving understanding has saved me from the brink so many times. We’re flawed, earthy people, so far from perfect and functional, and we don’t always see eye-to-eye… but there is so much real love and compassion here. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
Friends have repeatedly failed me, partners have failed me, I have failed me… but my family never has. For this, I am eternally THANKFUL.
So, I’m spending my holidays at home with the fams and working on two long-term creative writing projects – following advice from psychologist + spiritual guide + parents + true friends to SIMPLIFY my life. And that’s exactly what the second half of 2011 will be all about – the simple things. Finding no-cost ways of amusing ourselves is on the agenda, and my inner hermit is looking forward to lots of hot chocolate, reading, and couch time.
And appreciating the company of the people who really care. 🙂
A Lifeline To Help
If you’re in Australia, experiencing difficulties, and you need someone to talk to, LIFELINE now has an online chat option:
Or you can call them on 13 11 14 (cost of local call from landline).
Take care of yourself. You deserve that.