“There is no point treating a depressed person as though she were just feeling sad, saying, ‘There now, hang on, you’ll get over it.’ Sadness is more or less like a head cold- with patience, it passes. Depression is like cancer.”
– Barbara Kingsolver, The Bean Trees
For me it is a sci-fi movie, a horrible alien parasite is on my leg and when I signal you,
“I don’t see anything,” you say.
The alien is smart, it doesn’t move swiftly. It is calculated. It moves slowly, following my natural rhythm and moving in sync so I don’t notice. Things begin to lose their vibrancy colours are dull, food is less exciting, all pleasures become mundane. Again I ask is there something wrong with me and you dismiss it to be nothing. Finally, the parasite has made it to my spine and integrated itself into my being. It is one with me. I could maybe get rid of it if I was my former self. But it has been with me for longer than I could even know, cutting off each defence mechanism I could have possibly had. It has left a shell, completely incapable of relaying the SOS message. I now only work in grunts, silence and immense bouts of anger. I am no longer the person you recognise.
Just pray, it will be fine.
Yes. Let me do that. I will tell God who I think doesn’t exist about a problem you said was all in my head so that I can feel something I no longer recognize. Which is anything, I don’t feel anything. I’m telling you so you can throw me a lifeline, a buoy, something to get me out of this whirlpool sucking me deeper into a pool of darkness. You don’t. Instead, you tell me how I know how to swim and you should figure it out how to get out already. So you leave me to my own devices and I drown in a wash of nothingness. Only when I am suffocating, when things have gotten so bad that I am now going blue do you come to help. And even then, it’s not your fault. It’s my fault I’m here. I didn’t pray hard enough. I wasn’t strong enough. And people wonder why I may have grown up here but I no longer call this house home.
At the peak of one of my depressive episodes, I had no future. I literally couldn’t see beyond August 31st, 2013. My calendar, like everyone else’s, continued through to September, October all the way through to December. But, in my mind, nothing was going to happen beyond that date. August 31st was a door that every time I walked through I entered a dark room with nothing in it. There was no light, no chairs, no windows no walls, nothing. It was like I found the closet in Narnia but instead of a fantastic land, my door leads me to the middle of a black hole. So I ran, as fast and hard as I could out of that room, back to the other side of the door, promising never to open it again. But time has no master, and it was incredibly cruel to me. Every day I woke up I was that much closer to that door. I was that much closer to feeling nothing, being nothing.
“Depression presents itself as a realism regarding the rottenness of the world in general and the rottenness of your life in particular. But the realism is merely a mask for depression’s actual essence, which is an overwhelming estrangement from humanity. The more persuaded you are of your unique access to the rottenness, the more afraid you become of engaging with the world; and the less you engage with the world, the more perfidiously happy-faced the rest of humanity seems for continuing to engage with it.”
– Jonathan Franzen, How To Be Alone
I have plans for the day.
They may be simple but if I could just get them done, I would be moving in the right direction. I just need to get out of bed, a simple task. Ok then let’s go. Wait. We could do one more episode of this show you really don’t care about. We can still make it. We’ll get out, we’ll go. One episode turns to two, two to three and halfway through the season, the early morning has turned to the mid-afternoon. I have not showered. I have not eaten, do I even feel hungry? I have not used the toilet, does my body even function? I finally get up and leave the bed. And it is like I am walking through quicksand. Every effort I make drags me down quicker. I am sinking and the hard I try not to the worst it gets. Even when I don’t push back and take it slow, I’m still sinking.
I made plans with people. Why did I do that?
No, we can do this. It just one afternoon we can do this we can pretend. Where is your happy face? Go find it and put it on. I found something that looks like it. I’m not sure if it’s the real thing, do you think they will notice? Let’s wait until the very last moment to put it on. It stings. I cannot keep it on for too long.
I rush back to my bedroom, to the comfort of the prison of my own making and day turns to night. My time is lost as hour after hour we get closer to bedtime. But this scares me. There is both relief and horror when I go to sleep. Sleep has now become the relief. My real life is the nightmare and sleep is the release. When I am unconscious, I am at peace and when I wake up I am in a nightmare. While this comforts me, I am horrified by the fact that I feel this way. Scared that sleep has become a sinister drug that I will, one day succumb to. So I starve myself of it. I stay up trying to deny this relief hoping I will just rest but the then I fall asleep and when I wake I rush to go back because I hate this reality and prefer the one in my subconscious.
“Suddenly my perspective whooshed and I was far out in space, watching the world.” –Marian Keyes, Anybody Out There?
Granddad had a stroke today.
He had convulsions which rendered him unable to move on his own, and I felt nothing. The man who basically was my father is lying helpless in a hospital bed. His wife riddled with worry by his side, still I feel nothing. I feel no worry, no sadness, no panic, no anxiety. I am completely numb to the fact a close member of my family may die.
It’s the following day and I got to spoke to him. Whoever is on the other side of the phone, he is very weak. His voice is raspy, a slight whisper that kind of echoes as it comes out. Logically I know I am supposed to be broken about his situation, but I am not. My heart should feel sore from the sadness of him being hospitalised, but I am not. Instead, I lay in bed crippled by my own mind slowly coming to the realisation that Granddad and I are kilometers away from each other, yet in the exact situation. Our minds have turned against us and incapacitated us they only difference is he can get help, mine is apparently imaginary. It’s all in my head.
“So why am I depressed? That’s the million-dollar question, baby, the Tootsie Roll question; not even the owl knows the answer to that one. I don’t know either. All I know is the chronology.”
– Ned Vizzini, It’s Kind Of A Funny Story
Edited by TheWalkingWeave
Pictures from Google Search