The following is a guest post written by author Tellis K. Coolong:
THE INNER STAN
There’s a voice in the back of my head. I think it belongs to the depression. Either the depression or the mania – who knows? The point is, there’s a voice in the back of my head, insidious and seductive. And the scariest thing about this voice is that it’s mine.
This voice – let’s call it Stan, for lack of a better name – it tells me things:
- That I’m a constant source of worry for my family.
- That my friends hate having me around.
- That I’m worthless.
- That I’m damaged goods and that there is something wrong with me.
- That I can’t trust the positive things I think.
Stan succeeds in reminding me of every unpleasant moment I’ve ever had, and how those moments made a fool out of me. He makes me feel, with the utmost conviction, that things will not get better; that I’ll always feel depressed and hopeless. And here’s the real kicker: Stan can convince me, just by manipulating my feelings, that perhaps things would be better, easier, and less complicated for all involved, if I were to just… you know.
But that’s where Stan gets too greedy. He can’t settle for just despair and self-isolation from those who care about me and want to help me. No, he has to try for that final, permanent coup de grace. But he forgets that there’s another voice, a benevolent, reassuring voice floating around the grey matter. One that reminds me that his answer is not the right answer.
I’m not saying that I know the secret to defeating your own inner Stan; it’s like it’s my first clash with him every time I take him on. Somehow, he makes me forget how to stop him; how to prevent him from playing his insidious games with my brain. But I have learned over these many, many years of facing off against Stan that there are ways to shut him down.
As soon as I realize he’s drawing me into another cycle of self doubt, I simply stop myself from tearing down my own existence by ordering him – aloud – to stop. Many a motorist has seen me shut him down by just shouting, “Get out of there!” while driving in traffic. It’s silly, I know, but it works. The act of saying the words aloud is enough to get me to stop tearing myself asunder.
Another good trick against ol’ Stan I like to employ is to not let myself get into a situation where I can seclude myself. I make appointments, dates, and obligations with people that I know I can’t ignore. That way, I’m forced to get up off my duff, take a shower, and trudge out into society, where my friends can distract me from Stan’s voice. See, the thing is, as strong as Stan’s voice is, it’s nothing compared to the laughter of my friends.
Fester’s Quest for the original Nintendo is not unbeatable, and neither is Stan. You just need to know how to play the game. But remember this: vanquish him as you might, he will return. So when he does, be ready to tell him to “get out of there!”
Tellis K. Coolong lives in Milford, Maine, with Stan and constantly fights to keep him at bay. Telly is the author of the novels Walczyk and I Am Not Walczyk, both featuring his bipolar protagonist Peter Walczyk. You can read more about his novels at tellyproductions.net.
Image credit: xiao ye