The Reality Of Depression

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Well. The depression has returned. It came back three days ago, and I have a feeling the beast will be staying for a long while this time, biding its time, sitting on my chest like an unwelcome dog. I haven’t slept in three days, and feel like hell. Even the slightest, tiniest of tasks, like sipping a bit of water from a cup, or relieving my bladder, takes a monumental effort; I’ve got heart palpitations from anxiety, and nausea and dizziness to boot. Nothing I write is the least bit good, and my writing dreams are dust. When I get like this, I see nothing—no future, no past, no present, just endless pain and misery, for eternity.

There’s no hope. Granted, I’m not suicidal yet, I don’t have any plans to kill myself, but it is likely I’ll be hospitalised before the week is out if my mood keeps up. I’m just sick and tired of everything. Sick and tired of writing and never getting anywhere with it. Of staying home, and feeling like I have no future, no career, no hopes or dreams, nothing to look forward to or be happy about. Everything is colourless and dull; there’s nothing more depressing than the world outside, with its cars trundling down the streets, the empty pavements, the grey leaden sky, the people on the buses and trains, living in their own separate houses. Every word I write is a barbed thorn, digging into my flesh. Depression isn’t anything to laugh at; it’s black, it’s dark and all-consuming. It is the lack of hope itself, the world become a pencil-drawing instead of a rich, colourful canvas. I can’t remember the last time I was truly happy.

When I get particularly depressed, as I am now, a dark, thick self-loathing overtakes my mind and body completely. I can’t look inside mirrors, and every word I say, every movement I make, is pathetic and disgusting. I can’t stand being alive. I can’t stand my own presence. All I want to do is lie down, in a dark room, take a few hundred pills, and go to sleep forever, so I will no longer have to bear reality and all its sharp edges. I want to step out of my body, shed it like a butterfly does it chrysalis, and flutter away on angels’ wings to heaven, to somewhere pleasant, without pain or fear or despair. When I get depressed, I wish I had never been born.

I really feel quite ill. The only purpose of this post is to shed some light on the reality of depression. I feel sick and nauseous, deep down to my very core; the lymph nodes at my neck are all tender and swollen, and I can’t breathe, as if there’s a pillow clamped to my chest. I have a pretty good idea for a book, but not the writing skills to bring it to execution, and I cannot help but feel that my dream of becoming a writer is out of reach for good. When I get depressed, everything is irritating and unbearable; the light of the sun, my family’s attempts to speak to me; all books and films become boring and banal. .

Whenever I get depressed, I wonder how it is that everyone else can remain so happy and calm, and go about their days with such faith and motivation. Why is it that only some people have demons? What makes one person more susceptible to the blues than someone else? It doesn’t make any sense, and I am full of jealousy towards those who live their lives happily, untroubled and carefree, because it seems to be a state I can never attain.

I don’t know how much longer I can keep this no-sleeping business up. Twice, I have run through my head suicidal methods—there’s pills I’ve been taking for depression, paracetamol in the drawers in the kitchen, which I can overdose on, and close to where I live a bridge that overlooks a reservoir of water which I can jump off from if I need to. It’s hard to explain to someone who isn’t depressed why I would want to take such a drastic step. I’m still afraid of doing it so far, but some part of me wants to do it, desperately, because I can’t stand being myself, being conscious and existing, for a moment longer. Life has become unbearable; it’s as though someone has crammed a lump of something disgusting into my mouth, and I want to spit it out—by which I mean, kill myself. I do sincerely wish I had never been born. I wish I could return to a better place, to my childhood, when everything was fun and exciting. I’m lost in life, and I don’t know who I am, or where I am going; I want to find satisfaction, contentment, happiness, but all these things seem as out of reach as the sun, and instead of smiling all I feel like doing is throwing up.

 

When Everything Seems Difficult

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One of the first signs that depression hasn’t completely released its hold on your life is if everything seems difficult, from the smallest of tasks, such as brushing one’s teeth, to bigger jobs, like applying for courses and making grown-up purchases. For me, it’s as if my brain has become, after the depressive episode, stuck in a kind of rut. In the past, I used to be able to write words and sentences with ease; now, they trip and stumble over each other on their way from my brain to the page, heavy and loaded with insecurities. When before I used to be able to immerse myself in fictional world for hours on end, now I find it a stretch to even write one scanty page of fiction a day.

It’s as if my mind has blacklisted, without asking me, all the tasks that I once found fun and enjoyable, and have now made them unbearable chores. It’s one of the reasons why I find it highly unlikely I’ll get published in my lifetime at this rate—not if even the writing of words sends me down a crazy spiral of despair! And to make matters worse, this lack of motivation and energy stretches to all domains of one’s life. Not only do I find the prospect of applying for my Diploma of Nursing next year complicated and unbearable, but I also find the very idea of finding a significant other and settling down and having a family an immense chore in the future, which, if I do manage to attain it, will require only more hard work and sweat and blood and tears. Laziness isn’t the reason for this—if that were the case, all I had to do was give myself a good talking to—but something more, a lassitude and lethargy of the soul, that makes all of existence as boring and monotonous as pushing pebbles up a hill with your fingers.

I feel terribly tiny and insignificant a lot of the time, and it is not a nice feeling. Sometimes, what I feel is anxiety—fear of homelessness, of not having food to eat or a roof over one’s head—but other times it’s this blank loneliness, wherein I feel myself to be little more than a speck of dust on the wind. In a sea of billions, I am nothing, and whether I live happily or miserably, die early or late, it matters little to the world, to the universe. Perhaps God, if He exists, cares, and a handful of people on the planet, but other than that, you and I, each and everyone of us, are tiny ants crawling across the surface of the planet, going about our daily lives, with our small cares and worries. Inevitably such thinking leads me back down into a state of depression, and I try to claw myself out of it by reminding myself that I am a miracle, and a part of nature and the Universe just like any other organism.

Life is hard. I think it’s hard because humans don’t really know what we want, and when we do get what we want, we often find we do not like it. Everything seems better when seen through the lens of “in-the-future”, but when that particular future becomes the present, we find that whatever we wanted–a family, a car, a house, a better job–actually makes life just as mundane and ordinary as when we didn’t possess it. And that’s the problem—after this depressive episode, I don’t know who I am or what I want anymore. At the moment, my only goal is to study so that I can eventually find a job and support myself financially, and that in itself will be a large mountain to surmount, but after that? Or during it? What do I want? Now that I no longer have the prospect of becoming a fiction writer in my life, I am left adrift, my identity scattered and broken. And I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to put myself back together again.

 

 

 

Waking Up Depressed In The Mornings

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Every morning, I wake up depressed.

I don’t know why this is the case. I don’t exactly have a very bad life. I know where I need to go, what each day holds, especially now that I have resumed my studies. While the prospect of the day’s work ahead of me is daunting, and sometimes makes me want to crawl back under the covers, it is not explanation enough for the overwhelming black misery that floods my heart each time I open my eyes in bed in the morning and find myself back in the world.

I think it has something to do with the mystery that we are all in, the mystery of life. When I awaken in the morning, the mystery returns along with my faculties, like an unanswered question popping back into one’s head, and I am tormented by the lack of answers, by my own sheer bewilderment in the face of life. I don’t know a thing about life or death, and neither, I think, does anyone else on this planet. And the mystery of it, the absurdity, in all its baffling glory, is so irritating sometimes it makes me miserable. I’m just not good with mysteries, with not knowing. I like to know. I’m the kind of person who hates not being told things, or not having the answers to things. I am a worrier, and a hypochondriac. I like to get to the bottom of things, quick snap. If there is a problem, I try immediately to find a solution, to resolve it. And life itself sometimes feels like the most unsolvable, infuriating problem there is. Hence the depressed mornings.

I know, I know, as they say, “Life is not a question to be answered, but a mystery to be lived,” or something like that. But I can’t help it. I can’t help the niggling sense that there’s something going on around here, something important—at least it seems that way—only no-one’s telling us anything about it. And that’s so frustrating. It really is.

Here are two very sad things, very tragic occurrences, that I’ve noticed recently, in my everyday life, just by watching the interactions of the people around me and society in general. I like sad things, because they tug at my heart, and it makes me feel more alive, somehow. I’m full to the brim with unspent empathy, you see, I’ve got endless reserves of empathy, deep reservoirs of it, and nowhere to spend it. My family members don’t really need me. They see me as more of a burden. So instead, I apply my empathy in small and silent acknowledgments of the suffering in the world around me. I think suffering is beautiful, in many ways. It’s awful, but it’s beautiful, somehow, the way a dead bird lying on the side of the road looks sad and infinitely beautiful both at the same time. Whenever I see a dead bird, lying all by itself on the side of the footpath, I feel an overwhelming melancholy sweep through my heart, along with a kind of miserable joy. I don’t know how exactly to explain that, either.

One, for instance, is that sometimes people can’t help but love those who cannot love them back. I’ve noticed this a lot, over the years. Lots of people love certain people more than those people love them. It’s a tiny tragedy, occurring in hearts all over the world: mothers who love their delinquent sons or daughters, who couldn’t care less if their mother lived or died; women who love their men, even if they are abusive or selfish or unkind; men who love their wife, love them dearly, even after she cheats on him and treats him very badly. It’s a very complex issue, you know. There’s lots of hidden wiggles and swirls and complexities to them. These things often are. And I myself have had certain experience in this field of heartbreak. My father is a strange man. He loves me, in his own way, but he is too selfish and self-centered, due to childhood trauma, to properly express his affection. Nevertheless, I love him, I love him with all my heart, because he is my father, and a daughter often can’t help but love their father, and desire his attention and approval, no matter how badly he hurts her. And now I find myself attracted—well, I don’t mingle with people often enough to meet many, anyway—to people who resemble my father, people who can’t love me properly, and who I will always love more than they love me. And that’s a very sad place to be, I can tell you that first-hand.

Another thing I have noticed is the silent suffering that goes on behind closed doors, behind walls and windows with the blinds drawn. A man who suffers alone in his house, wifeless and childless, with cancer and the daily chores of living. People who have mental breakdowns deep in the night, alone, in their bedrooms and bathrooms. Just a few days ago I was in the throes of such misery at the thought of the wonderful days of my childhood compared to the life I live now as an adult, so wracked with nostalgia, that I found myself curling up in a foetal position on my bed, in the dead of the night, and crying my eyes out and feeling as though my heart would break from the pain. It was a little bit of silliness on my part, probably, but at the time, I can assure you, it felt very real, and I felt as though I would die from the sadness.

But I didn’t. I’m alive. Time passes. It goes on. People die, and others live on. Even if the sky were to fall down, eventually, people would just begin to pick up the broken blue and white pieces and live their lives anew. All feelings, all states of mind, all suffering, all happiness, is temporary. And there’s some strange comfort in that. There really is.

This Dreamer’s Take On Depression

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I like to write about depression. People everywhere seem to see depression as this immensely horrific but treatable sickness, the “modern plague”, when the truth is, at least for me, is that’s not so much an actual illness as a natural reaction to an unhappy situation or state affairs. The way I see it, it’s not a sickness the way, say, cancer is an illness. Cancer is caused by cells multiplying out of control, and is therefore something out of the control of the person who is suffering from it. It requires extensive chemotherapy, trips to the doctors, medicines, pills and therapy; your body is essentially self-destructing.

Depression, on the other hand, if it’s root causes are fixed, as they often aren’t, is not life-threatening. Like cancer, depression happens for a reason, but unlike cancer, the reason is often not beyond the person’s control (or at least not entirely), which is why I don’t think of it as an actual “sickness”, and should not be treated as such, with pills and so forth. Anti-depressants do little more than poison your body with chemicals concocted by very rich pharmaceutical companies. In the past, I took some for several months, and they had a negligible effect beyond that of an ordinary placebo. Then, halfway through the year, when I accidentally bit a green capsule in half, and tasted the white powder inside it, the chemical bitterness and wrongness of it, sitting there in my mouth, coating my tongue, was so great I immediately spat it out into the sink, wiped my lips, and vowed to ingest any again, and to instead get at the root cause of the depression. It was my brain, after all, and I was no idiot.

Again, I repeat: depression, in almost all cases, has a root, emotional cause. If you cut your finger, you will feel pain; that is your body’s way of alerting you to the injury. In the same way, when something in your life, emotionally and psychologically, is unhealthy or dangerous, then you will feel pain, you will feel miserable, depression merely being the natural reaction to a threat. Animals get “depressed” if you put them in tiny cages—that’s simply their brains’ way of telling them staying in a cage day in and day out is not healthy. Our society, today, is conducive to depression, because it is one big entire cage. From the moment we are enrolled into the school, until the moment we graduate and find a job, we are herded from spot to spot like sheep.

We live lives divorced from that of our ancestors, who spent most of their time outside, in the sun, focused on obtaining and cooking food, hunting, telling stories, talking to each other, looking after children. Loneliness is one of the key factors behind suicide, and if you just take a look around you, everywhere, there are lonely people; it is lonely on the bus, the train, on the streets; everyone sits in their cars, trapped in their own metal universes; grocery stores are impersonal, therapy rooms; money is the name of the game; with the advent of online shopping, it is even now possible to survive without speaking to a single person or stepping outside of your house. Not to mention the fact that cities are not the best environments for humans to live in. We belong among grass and trees, brooks and rocks; not paved floors, traffic lights, constant rumbling cars and trucks, skyscrapers tall as mountains. We would be much happier gathering nuts and fruit and catching birds for nourishment and spending our spare time indulging in our interests, rather than being forced to work at jobs we hate for forty hours a week as the majority of those in the developed world do today. Society has evolved from tight-knit, cozy tribes into an impersonal and cold capitalist system where humans are seen more as units of production than living beings. The way we live is so warped and distorted that the fact that there aren’t more people who are depressed is what is really surprising.

Would I be depressed and housebound and anxious if I did not live in the city, and instead a small cottage amongst nature, the birds and the trees, amongst a group of people who had my back and cared about me, and spent a portion of my day gathering food? No. And I’ll tell you why. First of all, cities, as I said before, are noisy. Secondly, roads are frightening, especially the very large and long highways. These two things—noise, enormous husks of metal flying headlong down stretches of stone—are not conducive to equanimity, to say the least, for any living creature. The only reason people in cities manage to deal with the noise, clamour and vehicles is because they have become desensitised to it, and I have been unable to do so. In effect, they have desensitised themselves to something their ancestors would have perceived as highly dangerous and threatening—and if the number of car crashes and road accidents that occur all over the world everyday are any indication, they would be right.

Thirdly—and this is something I recently figured out, as I began to take over more of the housework to appease my mother—is that supposedly mindless, physical activities, such as cutting up vegetables or roasting chicken pieces (I shall write another post on the pitfalls of vegetarianism soon) or peeling fruit, are actually very soothing. Not only that, they actually require a certain level of focus and concentration, and helps you focus on your own body, your own movements—both of which, when they occur, prevent any miserable thoughts from entering your head. Add in some sunshine and nice breeze while undertaking these tasks, as our ancestors most likely enjoyed, and it is almost impossible to feel unhappy.

Why is, do you think, that many poorer countries, who spend most of their time gathering water and tending to their crops and animals, are actually happier than rich ones? It’s because they spend their time amongst nature, for one thing, without any of that nasty, noisy city business; but it is also because physical activities, especially ones necessary for survival such as the procurement of food, bring you into the present. Depression is just overthinking, really, and the problem is, the citizens of rich countries, who often have their food prepared for them, and spend their days in front of computers, or thinking, lost inside their own thoughts—and often doing so unhappily, at jobs they dislike—have become disconnected with nature and their bodies. If you take those same depressed people, make them move to the countryside, ask them to pick and catch and cook their own food, out in the sunshine, alongside their friends and family, talking and laughing, spend their evenings gathered around the fireplace eating and telling each other stories, or reading books, and go to sleep with other warm, comforting, breathing bodies lying around them, I guarantee you their depression would evaporate. This, in my opinion, is how humans were meant to live.

Instead, what we have is people going to their jobs and sitting at a desk, inside, not moving for hours on end, then shopping for food in a fluorescent-lit supermarket (the cashier a robot, cold, impersonal, “How are you?” spat out of their mouths like a ticket from a machine), driving their car home (not walking!) and putting what they bought in the microwave or oven, then sitting down and eating it while watching television, or reading a book. After that, they shower, brush their teeth, change into their pyjamas, and go to sleep, alone. On the weekends, they might go out with friends, who often don’t really understand them or truly care about them, and then, again, at the end of the night, return to an empty house, or a pet if they are lucky. This is the life of millions of working, unmarried adults all over the world. And then people wonder why depression is on the rise.

And there’s a reason why love, relationships and marriage don’t prevent depression, even though, theoretically, it should, considering the affection and companionship those things provide. But the problem is two people don’t make a tribe. Two people together, no matter how much they love each other, are still, deep down, two lonely people, two lonely people who have to go to their lonely jobs and grapple with the isolating and difficult task raising a child, a job that becomes infinitely more lonely if the mother is single. Did you know that, in the past, in a tribe, a baby birthed by one woman was taken care of and fussed over by many other women? That way, the mother never struggled or felt alone, and the baby received optimum care. The same could be replicated if the woman’s mother or friends all pitched in to help—but nowadays most women look after their newborns alone, or with their husbands if they are fortunate, so the levels of depression among new mothers (known as “post-partum” depression), especially if they are young, is rising exponentially.

It’s a sorry business, and I don’t see it changing any time soon, as more and more people move to cities, and the world grows increasingly urbanized. To turn cities of people into hundreds and thousands of little tribes is near impossible. What capitalism has created, essentially, is one enormous, highly-efficient, highly-intelligent tribe, only instead of love and loyalty creating the bonds, it’s money—and money is cold and unloving, and leaves us all unhappy. For everyone to become self-sufficient, to live more natural lives, at least in terms of their food needs, for people to build their own houses and use solar panels to fulfill their electricity needs, to allocate their urine and faeces to their gardens to nourish crops instead of wasting water and energy to flush it away to be cleansed and disinfected, would be the best way to work towards a world where people are less dependent on the economic system, and therefore less depressed. In such a scenario, perhaps the many “pointless” jobs that exist nowadays could be eliminated.

Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening anytime soon—neither in my future, or anyone else’s. So as a compromise, I am doing my best to spend as little time as possible outside in the toxic environment of the city, and to, on the other end of the scale, spend as much time time in the sunshine—I live in a unit, so there’s a balcony to stand on—and cooking and writing and deflecting as much of my mother’s animosity as I can. Because of my unhealthy home situation, loneliness, and where I live, I will still drown in depression every now and then, and be incapacitated for two or three days a week, but it’s better than doing nothing. If only I could have cat. Now that’s a pipe dream. Beside the fact that I live in a unit, and my mother loathes animals of any kind, it would, in my case, be only an extra mouth to feed. The economic system has wormed its golden tentacles into every facet of existence, I’ll give you that.

A Depressive Episode

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Well, it certainly feels like a while since I’ve written anything on this blog, though I don’t suppose it matters very much. The reason for this, however, is that for the past few days—or has it been a week? I’m not too sure, the days have all run together—I fell into the worst depressive funk since last year, and it took some awful scrabbling and scrambling, not to mention long nights of gritted teeth, to climb back out of it. My fingers are worn down to bloodied stumps, for I fell very deep this time, maybe even a little deeper than last time, during which I did not get the slightest bit of writing done and wallowed in extreme self-hatred and misery for what seemed a small eternity. I felt very small, and very stupid, very useless, for feeling the way I did, but I could not help it, it simply would not leave. An onerous little storm-cloud came sailing through the bedroom window one day, plonked itself onto my chest, and promptly proceeded to rumble and grumble to itself and shoot tiny bolts of lightning straight into my heart. It was torture. Not as bad as physical torture, but mental torture, mental torture of the highest degree, and it is a miracle I am even alive today, writing these words—on Christmas Day, no less!

I feel as though I am a different person. For some reason that always happens after a prolonged depressive episode, as though the misery lends me a little wisdom along with the cynicism. We die, and are reborn, each and everyday, someone somewhere once said, I think. As for what precipitated the funk, many different things. There was the usual fear of death, but overlaying that were my fears of inadequacy in regards to my writing—there was such a collosal gap between my ideas, and the execution of them, that I felt weak with despair—and homelessness, and so on and so forth. What I have found is that, when it comes to life, we all suffer tremendously, but silently, and I am no different in this regard.

While I was depressed, I didn’t eat much. I couldn’t swallow, it felt wrong to swallow, somehow, and whenever I swallowed and let it slip down my throat, I felt the piece of food lodged there, in my stomach, like a lump of gold, a foreign substance, and I wanted to throw it back up. I didn’t write. I didn’t read. I didn’t talk, nearly. Incidents and words which normally would have cut me to the bone slipped off my back like rain off a jacket. I mean, I felt the pain, but the pain meant nothing, it was just an emotional reaction of my brain, so I didn’t really feel it. Outwardly, I was a zombie. I stopped attending therapy, and, miraculously enough, my mother didn’t haggle me to go when I told her I needed a break. I didn’t feel any desire to kill myself, or cut myself; I just didn’t feel any desire to do anything, except lie there or sit there, and do nothing.

If you knew me in real life, you would know how strange this is. Usually, even in my most blackest of moods, when I loathe humanity, in all its pettiness, to the point where my heart feels filled with black poison, I am still writing, reading, working; and even when I am going about doing other duties, attending therapy, or cooking dinner, I am constantly thinking, daydreaming. Until my head hits the pillow and my brain slips into sleep, I never stop thinking. But when I was depressed these last few days, I stopped thinking. This was the most frightening thing, because I feel like a person who has been in a coma and only recently woken up, still a little drowsy, liable to sink back into the darkness. It’s as though the days did not happen. Time is always something that worries me a great deal, in the way it seems to turn everything into a dream, but even so, at least I have memories, no matter how faded, of the past, whereas I barely have any memories at all of the past couple of days, and it is so terrifying, you can’t imagine.

The only thing I do remember, the only incident, perhaps because it broke up the monotony of my days, was when I went out for a walk, one evening. By myself. Funnily enough, this depressive episode had a wonderful effect on my anxiety levels; I felt like I was tranquilised, so deadened and impervious to my surroundings nothing in it could really make an impression on me. So for the first time in months, I went for a long walk, all by myself. In retrospect, it was a very stupid thing to do, as it got dark by the time I was coming back, and I live in the kind of area where it isn’t unusual to hear stories of a young woman or someone getting stabbed while walking alone through the park at night. But at the time, I thought nothing of it. Briefly the thought of being stabbed to death entered my brain, and just as quickly it left, leaving no impression, no sense of fear, a hand placed in water and retracted again.

I feel an obligation to describe this walk. I’m not sure why. It was pointless, and ordinary, just like each of our small, miserable little lives, yet I feel the urge to, anyway, and if life isn’t about satisfying our urges and desires, provided they do not hurt others, what is it, then? I walked down the stairs from the unit, down the stairs, out the doors, onto the pavement. I walked. It was evening, so there were quite a few cars but not as many pedestrians. I recall passing a school, then some more houses, a quaint blue one with a little brown chimney, I remember staring up at the telegraph wires outlined against the deepening blue sky. I remember the road—such a lot of cars, so many lights, red and yellow, such noise, such infernal noise, but I kept walking, it bothered me, but it didn’t bother me, I just kept walking, and then I was at the park. It wasn’t really a park, there was no playground, it was just a great stretch of grass, ringed along one side by a twisting and turning path for bikes and walkers. On the other side was an abandoned building, erected for who knew what purpose, its windows and doors boarded up like shut hearts and shut eyes. I had never seen it before. I walked towards it. There were some bushes to the side of it, behind which I discovered a fire valve. It was rusted, the metal pipe part leading into the dirt and the grass, but the red wheel was shiny and new. I stared at this, for several long moments, then I looked up, back at the building. Halfway along it there was an archway, leading out to the other side where more grass and deepening twilight beckoned, and I walked through it.

I found myself in a sort of overgrown backyard; the abandoned building backed off onto an abandoned parking lot. In it were some sheds, with graffiti scrawled along its walls and corrugated roofs, and rising pu from it some abandoned watchtower, or something, all flaking white struts, reaching up into the sky. I stared at that, too. Then I stared at the back of the building, noting the details without consciously absorbing them, practising what my therapist would have called “mindfulness” even as I wished to bash my brains open against one of those sheds. There were more doors, doors set far up along the wall, the building itself cut in half by another tiny building erected in front of it, reaching out across it in a yellow, blocky structure. This tinier structure had a door, a tiny door, locked, set on struts on a rusted box far above the ground, only accessible by an equally rusted ladder. I walked across to look at the side of the building, and saw more doors, with a zigzag ladder running up from one to the next. I think they were fire escape stairs. Somehow this entire building, tucked away on this patch of grass in the middle of the city, seemed simultaneously the most mysterious, marvelous and fascinating object in existence, and the most boring. Who built you? I asked it, in my mind. Someone must have gone to a great deal of effort to build you, I would imagine, only for you to end up languishing here, unseen, unnoticed, uninhabited, boarded up and left behind. What is it like, inside you? Full of cockroaches, and dust? I wonder, I wonder, if I eat a cockroach, or let it crawl over me, or lay its eggs in my eyes, I wonder if that will help me snap out of this. I wonder what would happen if I went inside, broke through one of the doors, ate a handful of dust, I wonder if such an act would be startling and strange enough to smack some sense into this dumb and sullen brain of mine. I didn’t try to break in. I didn’t have the motivation to. Walking had been tiring enough. I had been walking, I realised, to find something worth walking to, and instead, all I had ended up with was this stupid, rusted, beautiful, little abandoned building, a husk of human effort, and I hated it and loved it both at once, even as I felt nothing.

And then I walked home. This is the part, like many other parts, which I don’t remember very clearly. I walked home, alone, in the dark, without feeling the slightest prickle of fear or anxiety, down the street, past the roads, around corners and then suddenly, somehow, I was back at the front doors of the apartment building, walking up the stairs, back into the unit. I came home feeling worse than I had when I left it, because my walk, like everything else, was insignificant. It didn’t matter whether I walked to the abandoned building, or all the way to Timbuktu—no-one would care, no-one would mind, it was all the same to them, and I found myself thinking how there was something very insignificant about freedom, something very small-making. Each of us are free to do as we like and please with our lives because we don’t matter, and our efforts, no matter how exalted and wonderful, in the end, are just little bursts of light in the darkness, a little variety breaing up the dream of life. And then I realised, for the first time in days, I was actually thinking about something, thinking about it with logic and common sense, not just staring at an object and hoping its colours and shape, if I stared at it long enough, would wake me up, or jumping onto ridiculous trains of thought.

I’m still depressed—I was born melancholy—but not mired deep in an “episode” anymore, and I still don’t think I can write, and feel like so terrible a failure, so stupid and talentless, I could scream my throat raw. But the cloud, though it has not left, has lifted somewhat; no longer is it hundering or shooting lightning, but just letting a gentle rain fall down on my head wherever I go, sad and grey and gentle, like it usually does, and for that, I am glad. A badly-aimed bolt of lighting can set things on fire, and I do want to keep living, I don’t want to burn to crisps, to ashes, no matter how awful life gets.

20 Tips For Depressed Loners

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1. Other people—namely, your family, because friends, at least in the flesh-and-blood, are a myth—will most likely not understand your depression, and after a while, your moaning and general languor will begin to irritate them. Therefore, it is best to be sad on your own, rather than seek company for your misery.

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2. Do not overeat, using food as a substitute for company and happiness. After the deed is done, this will only make you feel worse.

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3. Often, the catch-22 loners have to face is that while they are, deep down, extremely lonely, at the same time, social contact affords such a great degree of discomfort that it’s easier just to stay by themselves. You have two options for fixing this: one is to throw yourself into your work, and the other is to try and socialise in small doses.

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4. Socialising in small doses may not work for you. For me, I find that most people usually either do not understand me, or areon a “different wavelength”, so socialising tends to make me feel more lonely than being on my own. Therefore, it is best to find a hobby or a passion, preferably something that will allow you to build up a skill to create an income further down the line, in order to distract yourself from the loneliness.

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5. Remember, loneliness is just a feeling: and more often it is fear of loneliness than the loneliness itself that causes the most pain. Everyone is lonely, and millions of people right this moment, I guarantee, are feeling just as alone and miserable. You’re not alone in your loneliness.

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6. In the midst of a depressive episode, do not, under any circumstances, engage in any self-harm, and that includes tiny forms of self-sabotage like extensive procrastination. Hurting yourself, in any way, does not relieve the pain, it just increases it.

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7. Force yourself not to dwell on the suffering in the world and the meaninglessness of life by reminding yourself that thinking about it won’t change anything, or have any impact whatsoever except to make you miserable.

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8. Write out your feelings. People who are lonely and depressed usually suffered some sort of trauma in their past. If you write about it, it can be cathartic, and healing.

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9. The self, what you call “I”, is, at least I believe this to be the case, an illusion. We are all each other, only we can experience life on a time; we are the bees, the cats, we are every person who has lived, breathed, and died, and who still lives today. Thus, loneliness is an illusion also.

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10. For those of you who are imaginative loners, who tend to idealise people and fantasize a great deal, don’t think that finding the love of your life, someone who loves you and understands you, will fix anything. It won’t. Even in a relationship, you will still sometimes get depressed, and you will still sometimes feel lonely. Loneliness is a part of the human existence, and no amount of closeness to another person can change that fact.

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11. Death is the only certainty in life. Death and taxes, as they say. With this being the case, this means that the moment of your death is what you should spend your life preparing for. For depressed loners like yourself, it’s important to see what’s really important: dying on your deathbed without regrets. Friends, family, love—these things are good. But they are not enough to bring meaning to most people’s lives. Accomplishment gives people meaning. So always have your eye on the prize, which is to die knowing you did what you wanted to do, made and created what you wanted to exist in the world.

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12. Having children won’t make you feel less lonely. I used to daydream of having the perfect little boy, who I could treasure and love, and who would love me in return. I would take him to the library, read him bedtime stories, kiss him goodnight. I had no love in my life, so this fantasy was appealing because I have a deep capacity for love, and I believed if I loved a child, unconditionally, they would shower me with affection in return. But the truth is a child won’t heal you. A child is their own person, perhaps someone with a personality markedly different from your own. Maybe they might not like reading. And most of all, a child grows up. They will turn into a stranger. Everyone does. A child is not a panacea to your woes.

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13. I am stating this again because it is so important: find your passion, find your hobby. When I write, lost in the words, in worlds, I am not lonely. I may not necessarily be happy—writing can be excruciating—but I am not lonely. I am not lonely because I am absorbed and occupied. I am not lonely because I am grappling with many different characters, it’s like trying to see into the thoughts of a roomful of people chattering into your eyes all at once. Find an occupation to lose yourself in.

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14.  Read. Escape. Write. What I don’t recommend is watching films or videos, unless they’re work-related, because watching other humans laugh, have fun, kiss, have fun with their families and play with their children will only send you into a deeper depression.

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15. Start a blog. Starting this blog was one of the best things I did for my mental health. Through this blog, I found friends, I found kindness—and most of all, I found appreciation for who I was, received gratitude from people who read my words and related to them.

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16.  Imagine yourself as someone else, if you can. This is why writing is the perfect occupation for depressed loners. By writing through the eyes of other characters, you get to escape who you are, and your own life, if only for a little while. Some people might see this kind of escapism as unhealthy. It’s not. It’s one of the best and, if you’re a writer, most productive ways to cope with the temperament you were doled at birth.

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17.  Enjoy your peace and solitude. Let’s face it, if you’re a true loner, loneliness is a small price to pay for your beloved silence. Don’t forget, you’re a loner because you like being alone, because it makes you more creative, because being around people, except for your family, for longer than a minute makes you extremely uncomfortable. So embrace it, even when it gets lonely.

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18. Remind yourself of the cardinal rule of life, which is that at the end of day, you live for yourself, and you are all you have. No-one else can write that book for you. No-one else can make you work. No-one can understand completely and utterly except you. You are your own best friend. Everyone who existed throughout the history of humanity was, deep down, alone; that, however, didn’t stop them from helping to create the world you see around you today.

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19. If you are a loner and you have family, even when they rebuff you, even if you’re not particularly close to them, be grateful for their existence. In my case, without my family, I would be homeless. Be glad you have some people in the world by your side.

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20. There are worse things than loneliness. There are worse things than depression. Compared to other people in the world, you have it very, very good, and don’t really have any right to complain. Instead, put your head down, and get to work. Oh, and sing. Singing helps.

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.

Life. Argh.

“You know what? I was wrong. You are an idiot. My life happens to, on occasion, suck beyond the telling of it. Sometimes more than I can handle. And it’s not just mine. Every single person down there is ignoring your pain because they’re too busy with their own. The beautiful ones. The popular ones. The guys that pick on you. Everyone. If you could hear what they were feeling. The loneliness. The confusion. It looks quiet down there. It’s not. It’s deafening.”

– Joss Whedon

Half the time I do not know whether what I am experiencing is depression, or simple teenage angst, which everyone goes through during adolescence.

Perhaps, in believing myself to be weighted with some grand existential despair, I am but reaffirming to myself my own specialness, and thus preserving my fragile ego and sense of self.

Deep down, I fear failure and inadequacy so much I could rip my own heart out, and I fear life and the future and not attaining the happiness I wish to so much that each second that passes burns my skin, like a tiny drop of acid.

You see, with things like blogs, and books, and any medium which does not involve a person actually speaking to you, face-to-face, you tend to forget that there exists a person behind the words or the images or the drawings, a person just like you, in more ways than you can possibly imagine.

Stuck in our own heads, we often believe ourselves to be unique and different, when in truth, we are similar, in more ways than perhaps we care to admit.

Someone who has bad days where the clouds crack and fall down on top of their head like fluffy plaster, and they are lost in a broken heaven. Who bumps into door handles and stubs their toe and curses the world. Who feels slightly disgusted with themselves when they defecate or clear out their nasal orifices, because it feels dirty, unclean, animalistic.

Who, with every second that passes, is scared, and who goes to sleep scared, so scared they can barely breathe, and when they sleep they are scared, the fear whispering like black wings through their dreams, and when they wake up they are scared, like their chest has, overnight, transformed into a black hole, with the rest of their body being slowly swirled and sucked into it. Blackness upon blackness upon blackness upon blackness.

Shit stains every page of my life, every facet, from my parents and the people around me, to my very own grimy little heart, which quakes and quivers and quails so much on a daily basis that it is a miracle it still lives. I am a hive, buzzing with a million insecurities.

Everything I do has to be run beneath the microscope, the glass tilted this way and that until the inadequacy is magnified a hundredfold – and only then, in having confirmed my own unworthiness, am I satisfied.

So, in order to help a handful of my fellow human beings feel less alone in their agony, and for the sake of catharsis, I shall hereby write down every single fear rattling around inside my chest. Every. Single. One.

And then I will go to sleep, with the fear still inside me, and wake up, with the fear still inside me, and stare outside the window at the sun, with the fear still inside me, and quietly wish I was not conscious whilst continuing to plod along, hoping for the despair to trickle away and for normalcy to reign once more.

1. I can’t write.

2. I don’t have the grit or talent or skill or time or patience or connections to become a writer with the level of success I desire.

3. I do not possess the social skills to properly function in society and make people like me so they can help me survive in this world.

4. Every creative idea I get is shiny and pretty for a little while, whereupon the very next day they turn dull and tarnished and tawdry, and I shake my head at it.

5. Books have lost their magic: they’re just a confluence of ideas, with characters stuffed into them, as a way for humans throughout history to escape and amuse themselves and process life. As a child, I believed every story I read in a book had truly happened, at least in an alternative universe. I do not anymore. Books, and the stories within them, are all too flawed and human – just like us.

6. I will never make a true friend who can understand me, because no-one can fully understand another person and we are all alone, inside our heads. Isn’t it strange, that we all have eyes, cats and sheep and insects and humans? The last time I voiced a similar sentiment, the person looked at me as if I had grown caterpillars instead of eyebrows. So I will be lonely forever, and the prospect of that makes me sick.

7. I am afraid of socialising, which makes me isolate myself more, which makes me more depressed, and I get so depressed that I get depressed about the depression and then I start to wish for a secret doorway in the house I can slip through into another world, where I do not have to think.

8. Everyone who has achieved success seem to live charmed lives.

9. I will never be able to find someone to enter a romantic relationship with due to my anxiety and neuroticism and general craziness (see my last post, if you want to see a brief snapshot of craziness). And this means…

10. …I will never have children, even though I really want to, because they’re adorable.

11. I want cats, but you can’t have pets where you live and there aren’t any pet shops nearby so I am so filled with yearning for a cat to play with and love that it nearly kills me every second.

12. We live and die alone, inside our minds, without ever knowing what the point to everything was, and that sucks more than words can say.

13. What’s more, no-one cares about you or me or anyone in the world. In the end, we only care about ourselves – even if we’re going to die alone and sad and confused.

14. I don’t understand a single thing about existence; everything from consciousness to time to the stars puzzles me beyond words, and even though I know very well there are some things beyond human comprehension, at the same time, I experience so much anxiety regarding the ambiguity and incomprehensibility of existence that I spend a good ten minutes every night screaming into my pillow. Much good that does.

15. I feel ugly. Sometimes, I feel so ugly I could peel my face off. I doubt, however, that such an act would improve matters.

16. After yet another disappointment with a writing competition entry, despite being confident and sure in my heart when sending it in, my spirit, though not broken (the fact that I am writing this, and have not killed myself, shows that it is not) , is very badly squashed. It looks like roadkill, with only the eyeballs, staring up at me in silent agony, not mashed to a pulp.

17. I am too romantic and insecure and scared and impulsive and insecure and mad to get where I want to get in life.

18. I have no motivation to start on creative writing projects.

19. I hate my father more than words can say. I never thought it was possible to be so disgusted with someone, and, as a result, disgusted with yourself, as psychologically, we have a tendency to identify with our parent.

20. I try to think positive, but I don’t; I try to believe in the power of intention and positive vibration but I don’t; I try to believe in a God, but I don’t: so that leaves me alone in emptiness, blind and crazy.

21. I feel fat; too much time spent moping around at home, I swear, has caused extra blubber to accrete around my belly. Apart from my belly, the rest of me is stick-thin, like some gangly insect.

22. I don’t know if love is real anymore, and whether we just stay around people for how they make us feel, rather than true, selfless affection. For instance, in a situation where I could save my mother’s life by trading in my own, I would not do it.

23. I eat meat, and feel bad for doing so.

24. Everything is expensive, so even though we can eat I fear homelessness or not having enough, and then I fear that fearing such things will bring them about, following the rule of negative vibration, which I do not believe.

Really, that’s all I can think of now. Basically, here is how consciousness feels right now. Every second: ARGH. Every bad thing that happens: ARGH. Everything you see: ARGH. Everything you think: ARGH. Everything is so ARGH I have lost the ability to spin words to explain it, my hands empty of the metaphors I once used to frame my world. I hate everything, and I am so scared I could throw up, and hate myself for feeling this way when other people have suffered more and have much worse lives and then I begin to wonder what the point of suffering is and I can’t find a point so it all returns to a big, fat ARGH, forever and ever, when I’m awake and dreaming and always.

A Tiny Call For Help

I know very well that I’m only one tiny organism out of billions, and that my life does not matter much in the long run, that nothing matters, really, seeing as the sun will one day expand in a red wash of fiery energy and engulf the earth and instantly vaporise every single living creature on it, but…

                   …I skipped school today.

So many thoughts are swirling in my head, a crowd of vultures pecking at my skull for attention. I’ll try and stand still and let them descend, one by one, until they pick me clean. I would like to be a skeleton.

My loathing for school has reached an all-time peak, to the point where it is making me physically ill to attend classes. One of the main reasons for this is the impersonal nature of the educational system, where you have all these students crammed into a small space, chattering and laughing and socialising, while I’m left dangling at the fringes, trying to suppress immense anxiety at my own awkwardness. Today, in class, I sat next to someone who I had interacted poorly with many times, and almost had a panic attack right there in class. I seem to have a lack of ability to tolerate people at all, especially in crowds, and feel so starved of solitude my soul is withered with the deprivation.

Motivation for my classes have plummeted. Even some of my favourite subjects, like English, hold little allure for me anymore; every single class is so regimented and dull, it’s more like a game of connect-the-dots than actual learning. Teachers talk to us and we parrot back whatever they say. Hundreds of students clip-clop down the corridors down like automatons, faces gleaming with fixed, metal smiles. The entire affair is an object of horror, like lying down in a casket crawling with cockroaches. I want to scream. Hard little bodies are tickling over my tongue and down my throat to skitter among my organs. I want to scream.

After one of my classes, during which the teacher publicly showcased by incompetency for not keeping up with the coursework, I walked slowly by myself into the bathroom, locked myself in a cubicle and cried until I felt like I’d squeezed all the juice possible from my face. It was very dramatic, and stupid, but I was in so much pain, over everything, that I simply had to release it, though silently, so no-one in the cubicle next to me could hear. Then I just picked up my bag and strolled out the school gates and caught the bus home, even though I still had two more classes until the end of the school day.

Just like that.

A sense of surreality now overlays everything. I’m so detached and dead inside, even reality has begun to thin, and what lays beyond I do not want to see.

Honestly, what I’m writing may sound lighthearted, but it’s not. I’m really struggling. I hate saying that, because I don’t matter, but I just have to write it out, if only for the sake of catharsis. I’m really depressed. Social isolation at school has only grown worse: it seems as if I can’t relate to the other students at all, like they’re these gleaming, shiny, highly-developed creatures while I still remain stunted and unseen and strange, an abnormality from the Old Age. I can’t stand the lot of them. Teachers used to tell me I’m talented (before I started getting serious about my writing dream), the school counselor told me it would be a shame for me to drop out when I was such a bright student, but how can I POSSIBLY be a halfway-smart human being if my grades are falling like shot birds and I can’t even manage basic social interaction with my peers without a panic attack?

That’s the worst thing: the attacks from the inside are far stronger than the external. My desired path in life is to drop out of school, get a part-time job and obsessively pursue writing in my free time. But the self-doubt is overwhelming, clawing up my throat like goblins, until I can’t swallow, I can’t breathe, I can’t think, I can only choke and choke and choke. If I can’t even talk to the kids at school, how on earth am I supposed to land a job anywhere? And what places hire a highschool dropout? But the biggest doubt of it all squats squarely on my chest like a bloated slug the size of a bed, slime dripping into my eyes and mouth and nose: I doubt my own abilities. I doubt them so much I can’t even see anything except the slug, taste anything except the slime. I live in the swamp, every minute of my life, trying to keep the marshland out of my lungs. To take a gamble on my own writing and creative talents when I’m sure I’m delusional and fooling myself, is terrifying. I can’t speak for the terror. Even now, every word I write is atrocious, so terrible, that it makes me cringe. You are an idiot, the voice screeches. You’ll never be a writer. You’ll die with your words unsung, your books still locked away in the library of your heart. Quit dreaming.

Unfortunately, writing is the only skill I have. Anything that requires the slightest social interaction is odious to me – I do have social anxiety – and I have trouble relating to others which I’m sure is some terrible, personality defect. But I must get a part-time job to help my mother somehow, who barely scrapes by as it is without a drop-out daughter. My existence will be a stain upon her heart, and I don’t think I could bear to live in this world anymore if I were not able to get a job, if I failed my mother, my mother, who has already gone through so much.

These words are disgusting smears of excrement on the page. I blame sleep deprivation, to preserve my waif-thin ego, as last night I was so caught up in the web of my thoughts, so feverish with anxiety, that I did not sleep the entire night. At this rate, I’m afraid of becoming a downright dysfunctional human being, one of those twitching, haggard, neurotic ladies who cart around plastic bags like old ghosts. I’ll end up homeless, trailing the streets with my ragged dress and broken dreams, too dirty and lowly to even gain admittance to a public library and enjoy the books I so love.

I just feel so wrong. So broken and wrong, so bad and stupid, so silly and pathetic, so hopeless and useless. And I don’t know what to do. I fear that if I wallow in the black sticky pool of my thoughts any longer, I’ll drown. Today, while on my way home, for the briefest of seconds, I contemplated just running out onto the road on the off-chance I car would hit me and end this suffering. I obviously didn’t, but I was frightened that I’d even considered it. It would have been so easy.

The world is so loud. The cars are so loud. Everyone talks so loud. Everyone is coarse and hard around the edges. My aura is starting to gutter like a candle flame in their presence – soon, it will wink out, I know it will, it’s just a matter of time. Existential depression lurks always in the corner of my mind, an elegant demon in a gray-suit and with eyes cold as the universe. Books hold no allure. I can’t write. I can’t write.

I don’t even know what I’m writing about anymore. Words that once seemed to me a ticket to bliss now hang like fleshy growths from my body, misshapen and bloated and veined. None of my stories work, and each time I try to begin a novel, it runs out of steam before it leaves the station, sputtering and disintegrating into a mass of rusty parts and wheels. What do I have? Nothing. Not even hope. I just don’t…know…anything.