My dad read my book just a few days ago then called me with a few questions about the subject matter. He asked the first few merely to try and delicately steer the conversation to the question that he actually wanted to be answered. Basically I had to reassure him that I didn’t have a drug problem. After the phone call I realized that my dad didn’t really know both halves of me. I had had this same thought before, but it was fleeting. This was the first time that I really reflected on it. You see, the book, while it is about drugs and addiction, is also about anxiety and depression. I have now, just within the last few days, allowed myself to freely admit that I suffer from anxiety.
For anyone who isn’t familiar with what an anxiety condition actually is, its more than being nervous or worried; it’s a roller coaster of emotions, often without reason; its quick mood swings that can be shifted by the most menial of things; its disparaging yourself, your decisions, everything that you have ever done; it’s the highs and lows of that roller coaster. The deep troughs are usually only seen by close family and maybe some close friends, but my dad had only really ever seen the top half of the coaster. My parents had divorced a long time ago so it wasn’t hard to keep that half of me from being seen by him and I have grown quite adept in hiding that part of my life from the world. My mom, brother, sister, and now, my wife all know it well but not really anyone else. They know the balance that I have struck and witnessed the steep drops followed by the steep climb back up the other side. But, like I said, the lulls are reserved to be viewed by only a few people in my life. Most see what my dad sees, the normal, above ground, highs and lows.
It is less like there are two halves of me than there are two minds. Each has its own perspective. They battle for control of thought, one a motivator, the other an oppressor. The motivator drives life forward, encouraging and hopeful. Even when life requires a reevaluation due to a bad direction of poor choices, the motivator moves in a positive direction.
The oppressor can accomplish the same end of examining poor choices and direction but does so by self-deprecation. It pushes one back into a small, loathsome corner by reliving past regrets and poisoning confidence with self-doubt.
Once the two start battle, the oppressor usually wins out, it is far more aggressive. The motivator can win on its own from time to time but more often than not it will need some assistance. The trick is to find some form of relief to fall back on, something that can vent out some of the oppressor’s steam so that it has less power to wield. That relief could be anything and will vary for everyone; something as simple as sitting outside to watch the trees blow or be much more complex like solving differential equations, for me that has been writing, and recently, sharing my thoughts. I let the oppressor’s ideas soak into paper which takes away some of its aggression, not all but enough that I can feel like I am in more control. All the while I pass through the world with a select few individuals ever knowing both of the minds that battle within me.