August 5, 2019:
My codependency originated in depression. As did the relationship itself.
Depression isn't sadness. It's a state that Meri Nana-Ama Danquah beautifully describes as "a cobweb of fatigue".1 Where things that should be easy are hard, each simple action requires struggle, and you spend more time doing nothing than doing something because the somethings of the world are just too exhausting. It isn't because of anything or about anything. Primarily it's a lack of emotional wherewithal, where you calculate the cost/benefit of, say, washing the sheets, and you decide it's just not worth doing 'cos, you're not sharing sheets with anyone anyway, and besides, they'll just get dirty again.
Like addiction, depression is a medical, not a moral issue. Addiction and depression are similar in that they're each outcomes of neurochemical processes gone awry in the brain, where neurons are behaving in less than optimal ways. This is the science, confirmed now by two decades of very precise neuro-imaging studies showing exactly what parts of the brain are affected by depression, antidepressants, addiction, and chemicals of abuse.
When we met I was not in treatment and my depression was getting worse. The cobweb of fatigue I was acclimated to was becoming more and more complicated by agoraphobia. Again Daniquah's beautiful prose: "It was as if my synapses were misfiring, my brain off kilter. A simple stroll to the coffee shop down the block overloaded my senses: the sounds of feet shuffling on sidewalks, honks from cars, blinking of traffic lights, loud colors of clothing. It was all bewildering. I started to have panic attacks every time I went outside."2 This was new to me, and as my symptoms worsened I found this degraded reality more and more difficult to process.
I was terribly, crushingly lonely. I wanted people in my life, but I felt that normal people, sane people, were incapable of understanding my experience or of being patient with my emotional states. It was a downward spiral, where depression encouraged self-isolation while isolation fueled further depression. I was desperately lonely but it was understanding that I was lonely for, far more fundamentally than mere companionship or simply sex. So that in my confused condition my crazyass rationale was that I should partner-up with someone who, like me, struggled with similar issues. I told myself that such a person would be the only lover capable of comprehension. I fantasized that if we were to pool our emotional resources we could successfully look after one another.
There's a logic to that, but it's the self-deluded logic of the mentally ill. Depression warps your judgment, robs you of whatever emotional intelligence you may once have known, so that you do incredibly stupid things in the mistaken confidence you're acting with insight.
The damaged seeking the broken: how's that ever gonna work?
1. Meri Nana-Ama Danquah, Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman's Journey Through Depression, Norton 1998 (p.27)
2. Meri Nana-Ama Danquah, Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman's Journey Through Depression, Norton 1998 (p.28)