I started trying to write because I figured that MS and it’s effects on me would be the biggest hurdle I’d have to overcome. I wanted to get out my comfort zone, and put my internal struggles out there online, so that I could a) hold myself accountable, and b) provide a look into the way people’s lives change and evolve after a diagnosis like this.
I thought I’d write a lot about bettering myself, about the things I did to turn positive and stay there. I knew I’d write about the downturns and how I was affected by them. I knew I’d have moments where things are bad. I just didn’t know how much this would evolve into a blog about depression and those downturns.
Is it because I turn to writing when I have nothing else left? Is it because I’ve been more and more depressed since this journey started? Or is it because this struggle with depression is me, and will always be me?
I don’t totally know when this outlook started. Did it manifest itself in 2005 when I left Penn State the first time, a failure in my own mind? Or did it start earlier in life? As far as I can remember my childhood and teenage years were pretty great, but I forget about the constant feeling of missing out, as I didn’t really party too hard, and constantly hung around a few girls that I thought I was “in love” with, although I was just a horny teenager who was conflicted towards who I was, and what I wanted. I never hooked up with any of the people I’m talking about, and constantly made myself a little miserable thinking about it.
I also knew that I was popular, that I was smart, and that for my small town, I was also fairly athletic. I knew that my parents had worked hard, and that I didn’t have too many worries. I knew that even though they were split up, I was lucky because my mom and dad don’t match, at all. I knew that I could hook up with certain girls, but I was afraid to do it with most, even if I wasn’t into them. Yet it’s all I wanted, just with a select few. It was like I had a horrible self image and low self esteem mixed with unreasonable standards, not so much high, but more very locked in and particular.
This lead to every hook up I had being meaningless, and the use of attention from girls I knew had a crush on me, just to boost my ego. But, I was a “nice guy,” so I’d be polite and not ever mean to anyone, those staying friendly (and probably making it worse) for the people I was tied in with. It lead to constantly shying away from taking a chance with someone I actually liked, until it was too late. It lead to me not totally valuing all of the great stuff I had going for me outside of this part of my life.
This probably continues to this day. Aside from one really long, and really chaotic relationship, most of my romantic experience stems from hook ups and either people I stop calling and “ghost” or people that do the same with me. That one relationship probably only “worked” because we understood each other’s lack of self worth, and it gave both of us an outlet to realize that there was some good in us.
Are all of my problems tied to relationships? I don’t think so. I think this is the facade that I use to cover up all of my real issues. I think that I have a lot of hard inner work to do, so that I don’t let this destroy me. And buoying my feelings and emotions by throwing my happiness on other people is only going to end in destruction.
MS didn’t create this dark cloud, it was just the high pressure system that expedited it. Where my life in my twenties was defined by the initial fuck ups, and the climb out of them, with constant battles to overcome dark moments in time, a diagnosis of MS at 30 has made the periods of happiness and light more infrequent, shorter, and also more high pitched.
When things are good, I’m sky high. I’m proud of myself that I overcame my failures, that I am succeeding while dealing with these health problems and that I can still be sharp even though just thinking it so much harder than it has ever been in my life. I drive to work glancing at the Golgen Gate bridge in the distance. “I made it,” I say internally. I feel like I can do anything and the future is exciting. I’m going to travel, and I’m going to do great things. All of my worries slide away, and I’ll get to the things that are wrong eventually.
The problem is they don’t slide away. Bills get forgotten and go to collections. My health gets better than gets put on the back burner as jubilation turns to celebration and celebration leads to life hang overs of despair. “Fuck it, let’s just have a good time. LIfe’s too short” turns to “fuck it.” My future is muddled. The girl I’m seeing shouldn’t want to be with me because of who I can become, when I’m at my worst, and what I will be in the future. My friends are all doing better than me, which has never lead to jealousy, just the feeling that they are all just dealing with me, and constantly keeping me around because they feel bad for me, and that they all wish I was that fun person I am when I’m at my best. My family goes from proud of me in for coming back at life, to distraught that I’ll never be like them, or be a stable adult. My work goes from something I’m immensely proud of, my company something I feel like an integral part of growing, to a life getting privileged developers jobs at companies financed by overpaid billionaires, with the mission of making the world a better place, all while we destroy it from our thrones in Silicon Valley.
This constant cycle feels like something that’s been a part of my life forever. It’s always been “if ___ happens, I’ll finally be happy.” Then I do ____, get happy, and things start to slide. Now it’s ramped up, maybe because of actual damage from MS, maybe because of the damage I’ve done to myself over the years, or maybe because I’m just getting older and realizing that one of the most popular people I know, doesn’t really have anyone.
The ones that are there for me, family and close close friends, get written off. Never consciously, but it happens. I know they’re there and I only draw positive thoughts about myself from them when I’m at my lowest.
I know that I need to do something for myself, not something selfish or extravagant, like I always do, but something that will actually help me be happy with me. Something that can help me get purpose. Something that will give me a reason to wan to live a mostly healthy life and want to be around in 50 years. I need to figure out a way to keep making healhy choices. Not smoking for a month, or eating healthy 70% of the week doesn’t do anything if you keep cycling back.
What scares me is that I may have to make an acknowledgement and come to grips with the idea that I am flawed, that I have made horrible choices, and that I can’t keep going as is. I won’t make it through the next ten years if I keep progressing the way I have the past few years. I won’t want to either.
I need to remember that I love life, that I love a lot of people, and that I love experiencing new things. That I love reading, even though I fall asleep every time I try to now, that I love sports, beaches and water front views. I need to realize that I can still experience these things, and not just as a distraction (which is what I’ve made all of this in the last few years). I need to realize that mindfullness is something I have to reach for, that Matt Walker is going to die, and that while you’re ok with that, it isn’t something to make you throw away the time you have here. It isn’t something that erases the experiences you could be having if Matt Walker actually loved himself.
No relationship, job, party, car, or vacation is going to make me happy if I don’t do something about my decision making and depression. It’s terrifying to start this part of the journey because there’s a point where you will have to admit that there’s something else “wrong” with you. There are people that you see in your life that will deny it, or will say they understand but shy away. There will be people that project their own feelings onto you, and it will make you feel like they don’t get it. There will be women that will write you off, as a long term prospect. All of this doesn’t matter, at least not yet. Worrying about how others view you, and fear of being alone is what dicates your life. Make a change and do something to get over that and move forward.
Now, about that change…..