Depression is a real demon. A total and utter bastard, if you must know. If Depression were a person, I would not like that person at all. I wouldn’t invite them out to dinner or over for a party. I wouldn’t tell them where I worked or my favourite hobbies. I wouldn’t tell Depression anything about me.
Problem is though, Depression knows exactly where I’m going to be and when. And Depression has the uncanny knack of being able to derail me at any moment and leave me virtually powerless to stop Depression from doing whatever Depression wants.
I am and have been in the deepest, most unrelenting, most debilitating depression of my life. And now I’m writing about it, from the inside out, as it’s happening, because I simply don’t know what else to do.
A Few Things To Know:
Depression and I are old acquaintances. No, there isn’t one thing I can point to that started this. No, I haven’t recently changed my diet or stopped taking any medications. Yes, there are many factors that are feeding this depression and although I can name some of them, listed on a piece of paper they all seem so petty and ridiculous. And yet quite paradoxically, singularly or collectively they amount to a number just slightly more than 5.972 sextillion metric tons, which is the approximate weight of the planet Earth.
Oh! And yes, I do know if I write a gratitude journal or just go out into Nature or talk to someone or light a candle, it will all be better tomorrow. Except that it won’t. Trust me. If walking in Nature would cure me of this crippling pain that has me questioning my place in the fabric of the universe, I’d toddle on down to REI right now and buy a month’s worth of propane and pre-prepared meals and set up shop on top of a mountain.
What Depression Looks Like:
This is tricky. A few weeks ago I was making a presentation in front of four thousand people. I was on a huge stage, in a sports arena, with AC/DCs “Back in Black” as my walk up music. There were spotlights and teleprompters and I had the audience eating out of the palm of my hand. I was smiling and engaged and in my element. Just a couple of hours before my presentation I was curled up in the fetal position, crying my eyes out, unsure if I could even get out of bed. During the the 15 minutes I was “on”, these words from a favourite song were echoing through my head, threatening to distract me.
Well they’re some sad things known to man
But ain’t too much sadder than
The tears of a clown when there’s no one around
Smokey Robinson – Tears of a Clown
People that know me well have noticed that when I am out in public, I’m not particularly present. I want to escape as quickly as possible from any social situation. The only two thoughts I can seem to keep in my head are “where’s the exit?” and “when can I go back to bed?”
I’m wearing the same clothes. I’m not bothered about showering or shaving, in fact not showering and shaving makes me less attractive to be around and seems like a totally appropriate way of being rude without being a complete jerk.
If you watch me carefully, you’ll notice that I keep walking out of the room, keep taking long deep breaths like there’s a sudden shortage of oxygen in my general vicinity, keep checking my phone for texts that I know aren’t coming, keep falling into silence in the middle of a conversation. Of course, you’ll have to watch really carefully because me and Depression have this pact that I’ll keep our relationship secret. I have a hundred ways to hide Depression from you and Depression demands that I add new methods daily if one becomes exposed.
When the stage lights aren’t on, when I’m not in public, when we’re not at a meeting or a ritual together, Depression looks very different. I’m practically paralyzed. I’m close to comatose. It would be easier for the U.S. government to legislate single payer healthcare in one eight hour session than it would be for me to click “like” on your incredibly cute kitten post on Facebook. I’m not exaggerating one bit. The effort it takes to pick up the remote, or pull the sheets off of me, or eat is gargantuan.
What Depression feels like:
In the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, Captain Barbossa says “For too long I’ve been parched of thirst and unable to quench it. Too long I’ve been starving to death and haven’t died. I feel nothing. Not the wind on my face nor the spray of the sea. Nor the warmth of a woman’s flesh.” Yeah. It’s like that.
My eyes want to close all of the time and can’t. My arms and legs are perversely heavy, as if Depression sneaked in at night and replaced my muscles with cement. My neck is in knots, my toenails hurt, every hair on my chest is conspiring with my central nervous system to see how much pain I can withstand. All the while, in complete contradiction to what I just wrote I. Can’t. Feel. A. Thing.
Come Here. Go Away:
I want you to fuck me. Don’t touch me. Bring me food. I don’t want to eat. Talk to me. Why can’t you see I don’t want to talk right now? Do something for me. There’s nothing you can do. Don’t let me be alone. Why are you always here? Why don’t you love me? No one can love me. I wish I was better. I will never be better.
A conversation like this is on a constant loop inside of my head. From one moment to the next I want everything and then nothing. Depression tells me it’s all my fault and then spins a thousand lies as to why it’s actually your fault.
A friend recently told me that they loved me. I replied “I know you do. It means a lot to me to hear that, but my heart is broken into so many pieces that I just can’t find a place to hold that love.”
Depression tells me to give into bad habits. For the first time in decades, cocaine seems like a really good idea. Sex with you and you and you and even you, feels like it would solve all kinds of problems, at least I’d feel alive and loved and numbed all at the same time, right? Clearly, self destruction is no answer but oh is it ever a seductive thought. To quote U2
I have spoken with the tongue of angels
I have held the hand of the devil
It was warm in the night
I was cold as a stone
So Now What?
I don’t know. The logical part of my brain says “this too will pass.” The magician and witch that I am reminds me to ground and run the Iron and Pearl Pentacles. The skeptic in me says it’s all total and unabashed crap anyway.
I know there are a thousand ways to get through this and yet a big part of me thinks that I’ll never get through this.
Magic and ritual play a part in this too. Large public rituals scare the piss out of me right now. I’m craving the company of my coven, a place where I can bring whatever version of me shows up, and I truly know that I’ll be welcomed into the circle in perfect love and trust.
I’m hanging on tightly to a few close relationships and praying that I’m not overtaxing by beloveds too much. I have nothing much to give right now and, for the first time in years, I am taking all I can get, even when I know I’m asking for too much.
I’ve reached out and had people reach out to me. It’s exhausting to tell and re-tell my story. I’m embarrassed. I’m grateful. I have resources. I’m loved. And I still don’t know what the next moments will bring.
There’s no erudite, potent sentence to end this piece. No tidy summation. No clever conclusion. There’s just an earnest hope that tomorrow will be better. That tomorrow I will be better.