The Up Side of Down

I’m thinking it may have been a good thing that Kate broke up with me back in April.

Not because I think we had good reason to break up. On the contrary, I think we were doing wonderfully as a couple. We had some frictions, some issues, some growing pains, but all couples do, and those are the things you work through together that strengthen you (assuming commitment and compatability, of course).

And not because I think it’s good that we still live roughly a gigamile apart, because I don’t. As a general rule, I think distance is a terrible thing for a relationship and inflicts great stresses, daily, on a relationship that lovers otherwise wouldn’t have to suffer through. And it can be lonely, being so far away from the person you want to wake up with, drink coffee with, walk in the rain with, laugh with, watch movies with, dance with, and make love with over and over and over again…every day apart is a world unshared.

And, of course, distance can (and usually does) kill a romance. And we did break up, though we remain close and will see what happens from here. We’re apart, and that is a shadow on me. Do I think it’s good that we’re broken up, for its own sake? Fuck no.

So why do I say it may have been a good thing Kate broke up with me?

Because of the lightning.

I was happy with Kate, really happy, but I was still in the grip of terrible depression. It didn’t keep me from loving her, or being elated by her, or fully interacting with her…but it still held me back in other areas of my daily life. I was writing some, floating on the inspiration and energy I got from loving and being loved by her, my darling muse…but I wasn’t writing enough. Not enough to steadily produce the words that are my livelihood. And I was similarly still in stasis in other practical aspects of my life.

When Kate left, I signed on for ECT, electroconvulsive therapy, which I’d been considering for a while. In fact, last fall I went through a course of TMS, transcranial magnetic stimulation, with an Atlanta shrink named Brian Teliho, as a way of avoiding doing ECT, which was looking like my last real option for dealing with depression. The TMS was sort of ECT-lite, and may be the early stages of a gentler, more effective therapy, but it’s not there yet. I went through the full, long course and spent $9,000 I couldn’t afford (and which isn’t covered by any insurance companies) and got absolutely nothing out of it.

So, ECT was still an option but scared me, was yet another expense (though significantly smaller because of insurance coverage), and of course inertia is the way of the depressive. And when I was with Kate, I felt I could conquer the world, even though I wasn’t.

When she left me, though, I not only realized how much I was still struggling, I went into what the fuck? mode. Yes, there were potential dangers involved. Yes I might damage my brain for good. Yes, I might even lose my ability to write. But I’d tried everything else I knew about, was still seriously debilitated by the depression, and now had lost the most vital relationship I’d had in years, possibly ever, and figured I had little else to lose. And if I went on the way I had been, there was no reason to think I’d improve my life just by doing the same old shit I’d already been doing.

So, what the fuck? I rode the lightning.

And I seem to have benefitted from it, perhaps greatly. I’m writing, I’m exercising, I’m socializing. I’m getting my life together. The insomnia which I’d suffered for a long time, a symptom of major depression and very damaging to my health, motivation, energy, and ability to function, is gone. I have hope now that I can rebuild my life into the life I want and need.

And I did it because Kate dumped me.

That’s why it may be a good thing we broke up. Had we stayed together, I might never have gone through ECT. I might never have regained this hope and functionality. I might have muddled along until I failed for good, ran out of steam, went broke, and crashed into a self-destructive abyss I would never again arise from. I might have enjoyed our time together, but not been able to maintain the relationship in the long run; I’d probably have lost Kate as my life continued to implode.

Keeping Kate in the short term may have been the best way of assuring I lost her forever.

Now, I have had the ECT, and I’m doing a lot better. We’re still connected, and have our lives ahead of us to explore. If we ultimately do become a couple again, I’ll have a richer, fuller, more successful life to share with her.

Again, I hate that we’re apart. But I think we have so much more possibility now.

As the wise man pointed out: you can’t always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you need.

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