I don’t know what I’m living for. Do you know what you’re living for? Is it even something people give much thought to or is it mostly the province of those having an existential crisis? I have no idea, but it’s been consuming my thoughts for about a year now and has gotten much worse ever since my first COVID reinfection earlier this year.
People like to throw out pat answers like “your kids” or “you can’t give up” but really – those are uninformed answers for me. If my kids were little, sure, but my kids are adults who barely talk to me or spend time with me as it is. They have their own lives. I can’t give up? Sure, I can. I’m a classic shut-in with a debilitating, terminal illness whose multiple Covid reinfections have made him phobic about leaving the apartment. If I’m going to just spend my life locked away in here on my own, what am I living for again?
CAN THERAPY HELP ME TO FIND WHAT I’M LIVING FOR
I’ve been in therapy for a long time trying to deal with my depression, PTSD, and ADHD. Once we started trying to deal with the sexual assault that occurred when I was thirteen, and things went awry with my cancer treatment, my inability to cope got really bad. I’ve been in weekly therapy ever since. I now have two therapists, and they come at me from different approaches, which is helping me to begin to grasp things and stop avoiding them finally.
Currently, these aren’t helping me to answer the question posed at the start of this post but are instead trying to help me build a better foundation for myself. It’s awfully hard to answer the question if you dislike yourself to begin with. Talk about bias – there’s none quite so much as self-loathing. So, what are the things we’re dealing with?
WHAT AM I LIVING FOR WHEN MY BODY IMAGE IS TERRIBLE?
My body image is completely shot. It had taken some major hits prior to cancer but since then, it’s plummeted. I’m unhealthily overweight and very different from the much thinner person I was in my consulting days thirty years ago. I’m also barely able to function many days due to the ravages of the cancer being unable to stand for more than a minute or two, unable to lift more than ten pounds, and with teeth that have never been great.
These are not things that crept up on me either. I’ve been all too aware the entire time they’ve been happening, and instead of reacting to it to make changes for the positive, I let it feed my self-loathing. This in turn became a vicious circle. With Covid, it’s gotten worse, and learning both to love me as I am and to find the determination to make as much change as my health allows is the first major challenge we’re trying to address.
WHAT AM I LIVING FOR WHEN ADHD AND AUTISM MAKE IT SO HARD TO FUNCTION?
While I was diagnosed late in my forties with ADHD, due to being allergic to a base component present in a lot of ADHD meds, it has never really been treated. Even now I struggle trying to find an ADHD specialist as an increasing number of psychiatrists and therapists won’t take ADHD patients due to medication abuse concerns. The result is that we’re experimenting with different ways to build skills to help me that don’t rely upon medication but there’s a well-known truth: most ADHD patients won’t see relief without medication.
Additionally, they’ve finally determined I’m likely autistic. Many decades ago, the observation was made that ‘I hear everything at the same volume.’ This isn’t really the case, and as Quincy writes about in this post on Autism and Hearing, ‘everything I hear has the same presence’ is a more accurate description. As we’ve dived further into my mannerisms, way of speaking, and interactions with others, they’ve noticed I share many traits with other autistic persons. It’s a difficult diagnosis though because much of it may also be due to my mental health issues.
WHAT AM I LIVING FOR WHEN I HAVE LITTLE ABILITY TO SUCCEED IN MY WORK EFFORTS?
All of this affects my ability to work, which in turn leads me to many failed efforts. These failed efforts and the frustration and disappointments that come from them further feed my self-loathing. The consensus it that it was a minor miracle I was ever as successful as I was, and that between my mental health and my physical health, I’m likely to never be able to successfully work in an employed fashion again.
So once again, we need to build skills. Several of the things we’re trying to manage my ADHD would also help here, but additionally, there needs to be some acceptance of my reality. Without that acceptance, it’s going to be impossible to improve my self-image. We also can’t let it become an excuse to stop trying. There is a balance to find.
WHAT AM I LIVING FOR WHEN I HAVE NO RELATIONSHIPS NOR A LIBIDO?
I don’t have romantic relationships, but I want to. There are multiple problems though. First, I’d never recommend a romantic relationship with someone as self-loathing as I currently am. Second, I wouldn’t recommend a romantic relationship with someone as ill as I am. Finally, I wouldn’t recommend a romantic relationship as an adult to someone whose libido has vanished as completely as mine has. This is not to say that you need to have a libido to have an adult relationship – it’s that I had a very strong libido and it’s gone, which has greatly affected how I interact with those I desire relationships with.
To try and be clearer, I remember sex. I like sex. I haven’t suddenly become asexual. Rather, when we began diving into the effects of my sexual assault, my libido disappeared. I’m trying to get it back but in the meantime, it’s led to some very frustrating situations and caused issues with attempts at relationships. Some of the therapy related to this has led to some interesting discoveries I’ll talk about in a different blog post, but currently, it’s an issue.
WHAT’S TO COME
I’m going to be doing a lot more blog posting than I have been as we explore all these topics. Look for upcoming posts on everything from how I found out I was prediabetic to my efforts to regain my creative self to how an unexpectedly well-written adult visual novel led to questioning how I relate to other people. All these along with posts on struggles with healthcare, money, and more. I’ve always been an open individual and I’m not stopping now. Hopefully, others will find it helpful to relate to the struggles they may be going through as well.
Maybe that’s what I’m living for? To help others understand they aren’t alone and to find ways to deal with their own struggles. I don’t know but time will tell.