Depression: What It’s Like

Today has been a terrible day, and, once again, I feel as though I am dying.

The depression makes me feel as though every cell in my body is shriveling up, each emitting a tiny, inaudible scream of expiration as they do so. It is all that exists, all that is. It is not darkness. It is just pure suffering, unalloyed, untarnished. It is a cry of agony, frozen, forever trapped in the body.

I feel as though if I breathe the wrong way, I will die.

At times like this, I can understand why otherwise intelligent people might decide to kill themselves. It is agony. Each word I type right now is an immensity of effort, one more step made my Sisyphus as he pushes the boulder up the great slope.

I don’t want to die, but I want to die.

I don’t want to live. The happiness of other people is a constant source of confusion for me, because never in my everyday life am I happy. Should I be loved, wealthy, celebrated, have my every wish and dream granted, when the sun sets, and the night encroaches, the depression will still return to grin at me from the shadows. It reeks of petroleum. It is warm, and dark. It likes me. Oh, it likes me. It likes me so much it kisses my face, invades my every orifice. Even when the writing is going well—which is, let’s face it, only the case once in a blue moon—it’s still there, whispering to me about loneliness, about women who are found dead in their homes with their faces half-chewed by their cats, about manuscripts languishing in drawers unpublished, about the love I will never receive, the comfort I will never have, the children I will never bring up.

You see, I’ve always felt as though I’ve been looking through a glass-paned window at other people, pressing my fingertips to the cold glass in mute yearning for their joy. Other people have structures to base their lives around: marriage, children, work, family, friends; and that seems enough to satisfy them. Yet I have never felt more lonely in the past than amongst so-called friends, never more dissatisfied while spending time with family. Were I to have children, I am afraid they would be boisterous and cold, unable to see into the depths of my heart, so it would be like bringing up a stranger’s offspring. Besides, the chances of my entering a relationship with someone whose glance pierces my soul is as likely as the moon unhinging from the sky tonight. I’m an alien, trying to glean love from humans, an impossibility because they are not the species to which I belong to.

Writing did not go well today. That has contributed to this sudden, severe bout of depression. I saw my dreams evaporate in front of my very eyes. I wanted to scream, tear down the skies like ragged curtains to condemn the world to the same darkness residing within me. Instead, I grit my teeth, struggling through my own private world of pain and suffering, as we all do. People often scratch their heads and wonder, “Why did they kill themselves? How could someone be miserable enough to take their own life? Did they just do it for attention?”

No, dingbat. Death is not a theatrical affair; instead, it is cold, and it is empty. It is very meaningless. People die, new people are born—so the world goes. They kill themselves because their emotional pain is as excruciating as someone cutting them to pieces slowly, softly, lovingly, plucking out an eyeball here, carving off a square of flesh there, yanking out a tongue, slicing off a toe. The pain is immense. The pain is self-hatred. The pain is knowing you will never be worth anything. The pain is thinking you are not talented enough, don’t have the grit, the “magic” ingredient, to achieve and succeed. The pain is loneliness. The pain is the knowledge of emptiness of existence, life a brief flicker of light that winks out in less than second. The pain is loneliness, not just that no-one loves you and you perhaps don’t love anyone yourself, but that no-one will ever understand you, your heart an eternal mystery begging to be opened and explored.

The pain is going to sleep hoping this will be the last time you see the world, and the pain is when you wake up the next morning, forced to face another day. The pain is the present, the future, the past. When depression hits, the pain is everything, from the first explosion of matter and energy to the tiny squiggles of light at the edges of the universe.

There’s no hand I can hold except my own, and I’m not dumb enough to fool myself thinking it’s someone else’s hand.

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8 thoughts on “Depression: What It’s Like

  1. Erika, email me asap. We need to talk. Please take my outstretched hand. I can’t watch my favourite blogger in this much pain without doing something. So, please. From someone who’s been on that edge, one too many times. You are loved.

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