Mental sorrows without a stack trace

Trying to debug my mental health, but sadly I just have to accept that there’s not one answer

Mental health issues are not new to me at all, I’ve been dealing with them since age 16-17. I’ve been depressed twice, the last time was at age 22. Even though it’s been 15 years since my last full-blown depression, having periods where I just feel down is pretty normal for me.

I’m going through such a period right now, and as always the most frustrating thing is not knowing what caused it or why it’s happening.

I’m probably influenced by my work experience in IT, but I was lamenting the fact that you cannot really debug your mental health issues a lot of the time. There’s no debugger to start, no stack trace to follow that will lead to a clear cause.

I have a bunch of wild guesses, nothing more nothing less.

I always like to point at PMS because it seems that I start to feel worse in the days leading up to my period. However, my period is almost over, and I still feel bad. Did I nocebo myself there?

Another thing that I highly suspect influences me right now is my upcoming powerlifting meet. I excel at this meme:

My first block back in powerlifting, after doing hypertrophy training for half a year, was going so extremely well that I got confident. Or cocky. I don’t know which one. I said to myself, and to other people (!), that I will get a 400 kg competition total. That would be a 25kg improvement compared to last time.

The problem is this: I would need a very good day to reach that. And, by setting a quantitative goal, I have put myself at risk for failure. It would have been better to put goals like: “getting a total score on the board, so the meet is a success”, or “having fun”.

It feels like I once again fell for a trap of putting immense pressure on myself. No one else is doing it, only me. My training has felt awful the last week, putting in motion a negative feedback cycle. I honestly dread going to the gym this afternoon, scared for yet another shitty training.

I’m contemplating not doing the competition at all and giving in to my wish to stop powerlifting entirely and move to bodybuilding.

I know that I am the one creating this whole narrative inside my head, grasping at straws to explain why I’m feeling bad. Can I ever get a clear answer? The more you start believing in stories you tell yourself, the more you create self-fulfilling prophecies. I’m not stupid, I know that. There’s no stack trace, there’s no way to know for sure.

The real problem, I guess, is that I cannot accept that fact that I feel bad. Must there be a reason? Does the reason matter? Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no.

I keep fighting the feelings, giving them more space to grow and fester. This is the cycle that I keep coming back to and cannot break free from.

When I feel better again, which will undoubtedly happen, I will look back at this period and not understand why it was so terrible. That’s the thing about feeling normal (or good, even): you cannot fathom that it will ever be worse again. And now that I’m feeling bad, I cannot imagine feeling normal again.

Why can I reason about this, but not change my feelings? Blows my mind. Feels unfair.

I have no issue talking about this or reasoning about it at all, it’s just that my state of being differs from what I can rationally observe. It’s that gap, that divide, that makes simply existing and doing adult human things all the more painful.

Because I feel like I’m failing myself, most of all.

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