Monday, July 13, 2015

Embracing the Silence

As my confessions go, this is a big one.  I've spent most of my life afraid of silence.  I found no solace in solitude.  In my early life, I'm not sure I ever experienced silence as most people do.  Far from a place of rest, silence and solitude for me were a house of horrors.

In the silence, there was nothing to push back "the voices".  Please note these were not voices I heard that "weren't me", or were from the outside, like schizophrenics experience.   This was the "self talk" and repetitive thoughts that are all to common to autistic and Tourettic people.  The accusations flew.  "You're crazy.  If you weren't you could stop the thoughts."  "You'll never marry.  Who'd want you."  "You'll never please God.  How can you when profanity flies through your head uncontrollably?"  "You'll never amount to anything musically."  "You'll never have real, loyal friends."  The list was long.

My college roommate was once blown away that I'd spent 9 hours by myself one Saturday when he was out of town.  I managed to get through it without major emotional turmoil.   He was impressed.

Through the years, I've undergone a shift.  Through my 20's, and well into my 30's, my life was dominated by Tourettes and the obsessive/compulsive drives that undiagnosed Autism provided.  With the return to medication in my 30's, the driving forces moved from those to varying levels of clinical depression.  As I slowly learned to just ignore Tourette's and accept the OCD for what it brings, both positive and negative, the primary adversary became depression.  

Depression wasn't new to me.  It had just been further down the list of adversaries than the rest.  Having those largely "mitigated", the underlying depression that had provided a "noise floor" for my existence came into clearer view.  

I'm going to indulge myself a quick aside here.  I don't take medication for Tourette's Syndrome.  I scarcely know I have it until some individual with sub-par social skills chooses to bring it up.  I realize that it makes people wonder and even makes some people uncomfortable.  I haven't given two hoots in hell about that since somewhere in my late 20's.  If my Tourettic behavior bugs you to the point where you believe I should medicate for it, get yourself some pills.  I ain't gonna.

I'll say this about clinical depression.  It's an amazing teacher.  The longer I've struggled with it, the more I've come to value solitude, even solitude to the point of partial sensory deprivation.  A dark, quiet, chilly room, with a comfortable bed, covers, and a nice pillow has become my "fortress of solitude".  

The struggles of the last two years have taken this even further.  My new-found comfort in silence and solitude has completely rewired my interaction with the human race.  Amanda has noticed this one.  I've spent most of my life engaging with people, building relationships, hoping to add to the short list of real, "body-mover" friends.  This drove me to be very "servant-hearted" and welcoming toward people.  I was always doing.  Amanda has a heart bigger than Texas and never says "no" when it comes to my desire to improve someone else's temporal state.  

My finally receiving an accurate diagnosis and better medication for my condition and some difficult times in our immediate family came together as a "perfect storm" of change in my relationship to humanity.

During our difficult days, those on the "body mover" list made themselves glaringly obvious.  Others issued standard platitudes.   When given the standard "let me know if I can do ANYTHING" line, Amanda responded with "We REALLY need someone to do (specific task) for us".  The person acted as if we'd asked them to dig and lay a new sewer line for the house.  It was almost predictable and a bit surreal.

The last few years of keeping depression in focus and a targeted, honed pharmaceutical regimen, have yielded new coping strategies and new found freedoms.  Failed relationships no longer haunt me.  Perpetually failing relationships that I can not extricate myself from don't trouble and weigh on me as they once did.  They are what they are.  

Silence and solitude have become my allies.  If I'm not in the company of Amanda, the boys, or at least one "body mover", silence and solitude are now my preferred companions.  I never saw this day coming, but am exceedingly grateful it has.

1 comment:

  1. I quite like the way your mind works. Never boring. Honest. Smart. Thanks for being you, friend!