I fend for myself.
When I woke up one morning and realized that I had been making excuses for my blackout drinking (it’s fine, it’s just one day a week, no, well, okay, so it’s two or three or four days a week, but everyone does that when they go out, don’t they? So it’s fine), I quit drinking.
My wife was supportive, of course, but it was my fight, so I did it. Myself. Stubbornly. No meetings, no help, just no more drinking.
It was, and still is, rough sometimes. A whiskey or a vodka could just hit the spot when it’s a rough day. Only problem is, one leads to two leads to three leads to many. I count like a Terry Pratchett troll when I drink. So I don’t. Push it down, move on. Been sober over 4 years.
On my own.
When I was younger, I battled a pretty bad bout of depression. Took a handful of pills a couple of times. Was definitely not in control. I did seek help this time, but the pills they put me on were the same ones I took. Come to find out they make the condition worse in 80% of people who take them, years later. All I knew at the time was they didn’t help, so I did it alone.
Fought it, learned to cope, moved on, eventually. Still fight it, now and again, especially these days when I feel like I’m on the edge of a pit of pain just waiting for the push. Just waiting for things to get worse, not seeing a way that things are going to get better.
Still, on my own.
Today is a good day. I can walk with a minimal limp. Tightness in my right hand and shoulder, twinge in the knee, hip hurts, but I’m sitting at my work desk, so of course it does.
Yesterday was not. Shoulder was burning, hand and arm were numb and sore at the same time, hip faded in and out of existing as a hip and a hot coal. Knee decided to stop taking my calls. I couldn’t really pick the dog treats out of the box as my hand was not accepting instructions, and I always lead with my right. Doesn’t occur to me to lead with my left, not yet.
It was also laundry day.
Down the stairs, limp, limp, limp. Trying to fold clothes.
My wife told me to go lay down, that she’d handle it. Not angry. Concerned. She wants me to feel better, but knows that’s not going to happen, not just from laying down. She just wants me to be comfortable.
I yelled at her.
I can help, I can do things. I don’t want her to do everything around the house while I laze around. I can still do what I used to do.
I can’t pick up the box of cat litter to clean it out, not without a struggle. That was my job. Might be able to do it today if it holds out, but loss of strength still makes it tough. I can’t carry the clothes hangers upstairs to put them away without a struggle. I can’t stand at the stove and stir. I can’t I can’t I can’t.
I hate that I can’t. I hate my body for betraying me. I try anyway, I fail, and I just hate.
So I yell at her, just once. She leaves me alone. I calm down. Depression sets in again because what, exactly, am I doing? Why am I angry at her for trying to help me? For wanting to ease by burden?
I am the burden. She doesn’t think that. I do. I can’t and I can’t and I can’t and she can and can and can. Even when she’s in pain or down because of her own issues, she can and I can’t.
I’m weak and I’m useless and I hate myself for it. I do everything alone, and now I can’t.
I can get through this myself. I quit drinking, I fought off depression, I can do this too, I can physically and mentally get through this somehow. I can fight off the constant, burning, nagging pain that invades my right side, I can get through that and somehow do what I’ve always done, live like I always have. Even when I can’t move, I will find a way.
No matter what, I can get through this on my own. I don’t need a psychiatrist or a psychologist. I don’t need help. I just need to step away from the pit on my own, like I always have.
It feels like giving up, like a weakness, like an admission of failure. I know in my brain that, given how worse I feel today compared to a year ago when this started that there’s a good chance that I’m going to feel worse a year from now. Even if that’s not true, I know it and the thought won’t go away.
So, I can’t. I can’t do it myself.
It hurts to admit that. I don’t like it, don’t want it, want to go back to doing it all myself, want to be strong again, want to be the me that has fought and fought and fought and done it all on will alone.