Weekend Feature: Depression
I wrote this for a class assignment back a few years ago. We were asked to concretely describe an abstract emotion or situation in our own lives. Given that I am a depressive, this is something with which I'm intimately acquainted: explaining what the fuck is wrong with me. Explaining how depression works is difficult; no, I don't lay in bed, and no, I don't want to kill myself-- but yes, I hurt everywhere, and can't even get up the motivation to read a take-away menu, that's pretty hard stuff to explain to world that doesn't experience it.
I don't think this piece will be triggering for anyone. It's very descriptive, almost a fictional feel to it. If it ends up triggering something, let me apologise now! I would hate to cause anyone to fall down that hole of self-hatred.
This is my explanation to you, my readers: this is what my Depression is like, and how no matter what it looks like, I'm not cured. I never will be cured. I will feel better, and I will feel worse, and most of the time, I'll be right in the middle.
But I'll never be cured.
I stand here, looking over the precipice into my own Depression. I am always standing here, rarely looking down, but always here. Usually I am shrouded, completely covered like a down blanket, by the fog of willful-ignoring. I choose not to see down the endless fall, into the deep blackness. I choose not to admit how close I stand to the edge. I choose not to notice how the bare toes of my soul clutch the cliff’s edge. If I did see this, admit this, notice this, I would slowly go mad from the strain. So, instead I ignore this cliff with its endless darkness, its never ending falling, and try instead to live with a semblance of mental equilibrium.
As I stand here, I wonder, Will the same Wind that blew away my Fog, also blow me down the cliff? Or will I jump now, that I see it clearly once more. This is always a terrible time for me, the wondering if I can continue for a little while-- while that Fog is gone, and ignore that darkness; or, if instead, I will just let myself fall, or jump head first into the blackness of depression once again. I am always of three minds: one says JUMP! One says “Just let yourself fall when the next wind blows”. One says “The Darkness cannot touch you, just look up into the sky of your mental health.” I never, honestly know which mind will win. I only know that I never consciously make a decision, only that I seem to remain on the cliff, or I fall.
So, I am standing on this precipice. I can see down, so far down into the endless blackness of an “episode”. I see the pain, sadness, self-hatred, loathing and helplessness that await me, should I fall down there. I know the hard struggle, the endless hours of meditations and mindfulness I would have to go through to climb back out. I know that my mental health is always going to be fragile in this aspect, though I am a fighter, a survivor, always able to make it back—somehow. I just know I can’t do this now, not again, not without fighting with everything I have! I cannot fall!!
So, I stand on this precipice. I stand here hoping I have enough mental and spiritual strength to hang on for a couple days more. See, the Fog always comes back after a couple days, and then I can continue, pretending I don’t know there is this blackness below me, waiting to gobble me up. I can go on with my life, trying to be a good mom, loving my kids whole-soulfully, and trying to be a good friend and lover. I can go back to my work, studies or whatever I’m doing, knowing I have resisted that blackness one more time.
Standing here, at the precipice… I know that the hardest part of this is still to come. Knowing what is happening is only the first step. Choosing to remain here, to resist the pull of that darkness is only the second. Third, and hardest, is admitting that I would welcome that embrace of the darkness. It is comfortable, in a terrifying and horrible way. Helplessness, once you have tasted it, is addictive. You are always pulled toward it, even as you run away. And so, I know how much I love and loathe that dark. How much I desire and yet unwelcome it. I know all this, and it frightens me beyond words or thoughts. I can’t articulate it to myself, in my deepest thoughts, even less so in black words on a white paper.
And so, I stand here. Looking down and around, at my naked mental feet, and dreading the moment when I will know whether I stand here or fall into that. I know that I don’t want to fall, but I do want to! I don’t want to jump—yet I do want to jump. It is a terrible place to be, this precipice. And it is the best place in the world to be. Here I know me, and I am only relying on me.
In this battle there is one enemy, one ally and myself. Unfortunately my enemy and my ally are both me. I, alone, fight here. I fight my best friend, who is also my worst enemy: my inner self. I have all the tools, all my weapons, maps, information and anything I else I need, right inside myself. But I also have the enemy—Depression, inside me too. Fighting is hard; I know all my weak points, my flaws, the things that bother me the most. I know myself better than anyone else ever could or will know me. But I know my strengths and I work to shore up my good pints around my flaws. I protect my weak flanks and bring out my strong inner armies.
So, I am standing here, looking into this precipice; down this endless chasm of Depression and blackness. No light, no end of the fall, nothing.
And I wait. It’s all I can do: wait.
Just wait, and stand here…
Just stand here…