The first post on a new blog.
A momentous occasion indeed, and I probably ought to kick off with a picture of some puppies or something, but instead I think I’ll start you off with the last post from the previous blog since, let’s be honest, this is where I’m starting from right at this moment, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, I have imported my favourite posts from previous blogs.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever suffered from depression… Nobody? Or is it just that you’re so depressed that you’re overwhelmeed by the futility of raising your hand?
Difficult to tell.
If you have, this might all seems very familiar, or it might seem totally alien – it is like the monster under the bed, taking a different form for everyone, similar only in the sense that it is whatever is most terrifying, most damaging to you personally.
For some people, so I hear, it is like a grey cloud, a thick fog that settles over everything – colours seem muted, sounds are muffled, emotions dulled, everything is an effort, like walking through water. Food tastes like nothing, so that there’s just no point eating.
I imagine that would be a total bitch. At this time of year, when colours should be so bright, and everything is designed to produce sensory pleasure, to have your senses say “No. I’m not interested” would make you wonder what the point of getting out of bed is.
For me, it’s not like that. Most things are *more*.
Kal said to me yesterday that he would have thought that could be quite enjoyable, and I guess it probably would, if I were happy at the same time.
For me, now, bright lights are blindingly bright: they make my head hurt and burn themselves on my retinas. The Christmas music is almost violently insistent, like a brainless sparrow battering itself off a window pane again and again and again, leaving greasy feathered impressions of itself behind. The taste of food is amplified so that if it’s sweet or its bitter it’s too much to handle, and pain hurts more than it should, making me aware of every niggle and bruise. Clothes irritate my skin so that I only want to wear baggy, soft things to give me space, so I don’t feel like I’m being suffocated.
It’s life to the Nth degree.
I don’t feel anything on the inside.
Even when I’m clearly unhappy, crying for no real reason; extra-salty tears unabashedly running down my extremely cold cheeks, there’s nothing on the inside. Just space.
I try, on occasion, to describe how I feel, and I never get it quite right. I have a few metaphors and similies which seem like they *almost* cover the basics, but it’s not that easy to pin down.
It’s like being eaten alive by something unbelievable cold and old and which doesn’t even notice you’re there. Like plankton consumed by a basking shark. Consumed but unnotticed, carried along against your will.
Or it is like drowning. Like being in a cold, dark sea where the only thing stopping you from drowning completely are occasional bubbles of happiness, giving you enough oxygen to last until the next one. But what if the bubble doesn’t show up, or there’s too much of a gap between bubbles? Well, you drown.
You’d think that feeling nothing wouldn’t be so hard, but it is. It makes it so much harder not to think.
I’ve rarely been honest about how I really think when I’m really depressed, as I currently am. It’s not an easy thing to do, and I wouldn’t do it here except I feel the need. One reason I never talk about this is because there is only one person who I know will, if not actually understand, at least react correctly, and Kal’s always been a lifeline in that sense.
So here it is.
I genuinely want, at times like this, to go to sleep and never wake up. Not to actively kill myself, I couldn’t inflict that on the people I love. Just to sleep forever, anything so I don’t have to think thoughts that are so lucid they can’t be rational.
After a decade on and off prescription drugs to try to make me feel “normal”, I’m coming to believe if not accept that this may be who I really am. My base-level, when all distractions are stripped away, when artificial happiness and interesting going-on are absent, might be this. I might never be able to feel like I’m supposed to without chemical help.
Why is that so difficult to accept? If anyone else were to come to me and describe feeling the way I feel, describe the shame they feel at being unable to control their own brain, I would tell them they were being too hard on themselves. “Depression is an illness”, they say; I say. Like any other you can’t just wish it away. You can no more, as a depressive, will your brain to create serotonin than a diabetic than force their pancreas to make more insulin.
I know that.
But I don’t care. I should be able to handle this. I should be stronger than this.
Kal does a pretty good job of not panicking when I talk this way, al least not so that I can tell. It may be he has a swat team of psyche nurses round the corner, lurking with loaded syringes, ready to cart me off to the funny farm where I belong, but he gives no indication. Just listens, and challenges the more irrational of my thought processes when he can.
Yesterday I explained to him the worst thing about it all.
I can end this. It is within my control not to feel like this ever again. I don’t have to suffer this.
But I will.
I remember my father talking to me about “duty” alot as I grew up. He is an extremely disciplined, moral man, and sadly it is from his side of the family that I get this tendency towards to depression. Having grown up with a parent with severe depression, I’ve seen some of how bad it can get, and I know the impact it can have on a family and on an individual and I’m determined not to let that happen to me, or to my family when I have one.
I never really understood what he meant about duty and what a burden it is until I started to suffer properly with depression. We all have access to ways and means of ending our lives, but we have a duty not to use them.
I have people in my life who love me and who would blame themselves forever if I committed suicide. They would think they should have done something different, and their lives would be marred forever by what they would consider to be a catastrophic failure on their part. They would lose their only daughter, or their best friend, or their colleague, or their training partner and wouldn’t be able to understand why she had made such a selfish choice.
My dad has a duty to us to carry on trying his best to deal with depression on a day-to-day basis as best he can. Not to turn to substances to get him through, not to burden us all with worry about his welfare, not to make a selfish choice which would put an end to his suffering, but cause so many more people to suffer.
I have that duty as well. And it’s not fair – I desperately want to be selfish, not give a shit about everyone else and go and be as self-destructive as I feel the need to be, whatever that would entail.
I know though, that in a week or two or three, I’ll feel ok again and this will seem irrational and distant from my life. Something else will come up to give me focus, take away my thinking time and give me a few more layers of resilience for a while.
When that happens, I’ll think I’m cured. That it’s gone forever, I’m fixed, normal, safe.
Maybe I’ll have the good sense to re-read this and realise that it’s only a temporary reprieve; I’m in remission.
Maybe this is it: this is me.
But, fuck it. Let’s have some LOLCats – it works for Kal: