The past 15 years have been a constant process of my life spiraling down to words, anxiety, depression, and complete emptiness. Eventually, at the start of 2020, it came crashing down. But it all started very early in my life as for the past fifteen years, I've been spiraling into depression.
Childhood and the role of a parent
One of the most challenging responsibilities of a parent is to realize where their guidance falls short. But for that to be done successfully, they need to be willing to be critical of themselves based on the feedback they receive from their children. I remember asking my father why I didn't start playing the guitar at a younger age – I started playing at 17. His very defensive response was, “We told you to do more stuff, but you were always negative!”.
If a child does not want to do any more fun stuff at the age of 6 or 7, it means that the fun stuff is not fun. It is clear to me now that at the time, “doing stuff” meant “succeeding at doing stuff”; otherwise, I would be punished. This idea did not develop independently; it resulted from the expectations from me right from the start. If you observe such negativity from a child as a parent, you should question yourself where this comes from.
When you observe extreme social anxiety when your child switches schools, you are supposed to question where that comes from. And when the children become distant towards you, it's probably your fault. Unfortunately, I received a very one-dimensional treatment from my parents, the “be good at school” treatment. Growing up to become an unhappier and unhappier person went entirely under the radar, and the only thing that needed addressing was whether I was trying hard enough.
At 15, I demonstrated the first signs of avoiding human interaction, mainly because I wasn't confident about myself. My thoughts became much more negative; I started becoming very critical of society. Then, I developed a tendency to negate everything positive. By the time I started university in 2006, I had turned from a social but shy child to a very withdrawn individual. I did not have a positive outlook on life, and I didn't even like myself – the way I was externally and internally. I felt completely unattractive, and even my first kiss in 2008 was a one-time thing.
At the same time, I felt entirely incompetent in my curricular responsibilities. I did not attend university as I was suffering from anxiety attacks every time I left home. I could not travel for the same reason. Going out with my friends was not motivating anymore. I also started becoming more and more sleepy during the day and more energetic during the night to the point where my biological clock reversed utterly. My only escape from reality was playing video games.
From 2006 to 2009, I spent the majority of my time at home. My parents' primary concern was my poor performance at university, though. I missed an entire year by pretending to pass the exams while I didn't even take them. The glaring unhappiness in my life went under the radar. I don't remember more than a couple of conversations in this period about why I felt so bad, why I was so miserable. During that time, the typical parent-child arguments at home started turning much more intense, and I started showing the first signs of violence. I reached a point that I could not take the insults and verbal abuse anymore, and I retaliated physically. I was stuck in a rut that I couldn't get out of in every aspect of life.
A Minor Breakthrough
The summer of 2009 seemed like a turning point. I still don't know why, but I completely ignored all the misery and loneliness in my life, and I became a much more determined person. I was able to go to the university at the time – even for just one course – the only one I physically attended in full. It felt like I was doing well, I started having a social life, and I felt quite normal. I had also become a heavy drinker, but that was temporary.
Eventually, at the start of 2010, I got into my first romantic relationship. Unfortunately, I was willing to accept anything to have that relationship as, for me, a relationship meant – and still means – going all the way. I tolerated verbal abuse, insults, and a relationship that was supposedly open on the one-side as I was “the only one in love.” Up to that point, I had almost no interaction with people who would say things to trigger a reaction from their significant other. I was not too fond of it, and I remember spending my nights crying alone, but initially, I didn't talk back. I didn't talk much at all; I was way too self-conscious. I didn't want to be abandoned, I idolized the other person way too much, and I didn't want to lose what I had and be alone once again.
And then something snapped, and from that point on, I started returning the abuse with every little opportunity. Within seven months into the relationship, the verbal and the occasional physical abuse from both sides had become constant. Within a year, everything had become toxic, a love-hate relationship that was dragging both people down. I spent the next year and a half not in-love and fully depressed, but I could not put an end to it. The end came in summer 2012, but of course, I could not let go; I wanted back in. Luckily that never happened. But my desperation to not be alone had become a constant driving factor for my future, along with my lashing out towards everyone every time I felt diminished.
Geneva: Suicidal Thoughts Increasing
In October 2012, I moved to Geneva, Switzerland, for a year, and it took me just one day to realize that I didn't want to be there, that I didn't have to there that would make me happy. I could not stop feeling sad and alone. Eventually, I started avoiding everyone for six months and followed a home-work-home schedule. That was the first time I remember clearly wanting to put an end to it all. My pledge to myself at the time was that if things didn't get better by the start of 2013, I would commit suicide on the 18th of January, 2013. I had done my research, everything was arranged in my mind, and it was a thought that calmed me down. Things did not get better, but I even try it, thankfully.
In Geneva, I embarked on wild spending sprees and made my entry to the online dating world – with a 0% success rate that made me feel even more pitiful. I started being meaner and meaner to the people close to me. My traveling anxiety transformed to something else that, at the time, I felt would handicap me for life – fear of aviation. Now I know that every time I freak out about getting into an airplane, I'm fully depressed.
The summer of 2013 found me in a much better mood and optimistic about my return to Greece. That all crashed down to pieces, though, as there was nothing left of my old life, and I returned to my 2006-2009 self. Alone, avoiding the outside world, and searching for happiness in the digital world.
Back to Greece: Spiraling down even further
In 2014, I moved out of my parents' house as things were far too intense. From that point on, loneliness was always there, and my behavior reached new extremes out of desperation.
I have already described the period from 2014 to 2018 in my previous post about psychiatry and misdiagnosis. During that time, summer was the worst part of my year. Comparing my life to what I was watching on social media from people close to me made me feel that nothing was the way I wanted. Any attempt to make new friends was compromised by my own unbalanced and unpredictable emotional state. Every attempt for some connection came crashing down due to my own behavior. Despite realizing that I was always yearning for more understanding from other people, I blamed them.
The girlfriend experience
I also reached the point of paying for a female company twice, something that was entirely against my principles up to that point. While I did this in seeking some acceptance and confirmation, it left me wrecked and depressed both times. This is one of the things I never discussed with my psychiatrists until 2020. I never talked openly about it as I was way too ashamed of what it meant for me, at least in my eyes. I have now realized that people can understand, and sharing this information has helped me get it out of my system and feel much better about myself.
Relationship-wise my decisions were still driven by my need to have someone in my life and impulsivity. Most of them resulted in the other person being traumatized by my extreme mood swings, insults, and anger. Even cheating was more comfortable than ending a long-distance relationship in which I was unhappy. The end of some of these relationships found me full of guilt and shame, thinking more and more about suicide as I could not stand the damage I had caused to the other person. At the same time, I felt the need to jump on to the next relationship right the next day; the relationship came to an end.
There comes Kiara, the best dog
Getting a dog in the summer of 2017 definitely helped me overcome depressive periods. In hindsight, it probably didn't help my dog that much, though. She had to cope with the same behavior people close to me did, and she couldn't do anything about it. The end of 2017 found me in a relationship that started the right way with a person I met in the real world. It was intense once again as we were entirely incompatible. I also made the mistake of stopping my medication after encouragement from the other person – *do not try this at home*. One month later, I was alone and abandoned once again, and my frantic search for someone started once again.
However, it was the first time I was happy that a relationship was over, and my social life improved heavily. My love life was a huge mess for a couple of months, though, and I started losing faith after eight years of poor choices and my perception of life crashing down to pieces endlessly.
PS: Talking about suicide is hard. And while I think the talk needs to be had, we need to be much more open about it. My best advice towards anyone having these thoughts is to seek expert help. In my opinion, it is no other way around it as the risk is way too high. When someone feels that their world is crashing down and their mind's best solution is to go suicidal, it means that the whole foundation has been compromised. Only an expert can help you bring it back on track.