I woke up this morning to find Depression lying next to me. I hate when he doesn’t leave by morning. At least he has the courtesy to let me know when he plans to swing by. It’d be nicer if he brought a bottle of wine or a cupcake or something though.
As of late I have been pondering the reasons for why I seem to be so impossibly unable to reclaim my old life. Granted, I am an adult. Adults are supposed to mature and change. I mean, that’s how the whole growing up thing works, right?
Okay, I get it… I even accept it.
However, I still keep wondering why it’s so hard to meet people, develop friendships and be happy. I was always the life of the party before… the head of all my cliques, the reigning queen of the playground. For being an only child, I didn’t know what the words “lonely”, “bored”, “unfulfilled”, or “despondent” even meant.
Now I feel as though I invented them.
I was the girl who had friends in every single class. I was the girl who knew people everywhere she went. I was the girl who referred to the word “commitment” as the “C-word” because being tied down was never an option with so many appealing suitors desiring my attention. I refused to miss a party and I certainly never ignored a text. What the hell happened to that girl? What happened to me?
Sometimes I look in the mirror and I don’t even recognize myself. No matter how down I’ve been in the past, I’ve never actually looked sad. These days I do.
Even when I muster up the energy to go out into the world—when I put on my “cute” clothes, gloss my lips, curl my hair—I still look in that mirror and think, “Gosh, you don’t even look convincing when you smile anymore.”
Then, before I’ve even had a chance to walk out the door, I feel like absolute garbage. I’m not fooling anyone at all. They can probably sense what only I seem to see… Depression.
Depression is like the guy who likes you even though you try your hardest to be undesirable. No matter what you say or do, it adores you and maintains an unwavering faith that the two of you are meant to be together. Soulmates. Twin flames.
And in some ways, Depression is even like a peeping Tom— all too enthralled by your vulnerability while it hides in the bushes where you can’t see them. After all, if you never catch them in the act you’ll never discover just how badly you’re being violated. Well, that’s how it usually is anyway. This isn’t exactly the case for me. My depression is a different breed entirely.
Instead of being the customary “creepo in the bushes”, my depression kicked my front door down and had the nerve to introduce itself:
“Hi, my name’s Depression, and I am SO glad to see you’re home because I’ve been meaning to talk to you about the whole you-being-happy shtick. And well, you know, while all of that stuff is incredible for Barbie and Ken and whoever the heck else, you—you’re different.
“I’ve been trying to get your attention over the years and it seems to me that someone doesn’t like to answer their phone or respond to voicemails. And I know you’ve totally been busy with dreams, hopes, life, friends, boyfriends and “doing you”, but let’s just cut to the chase and acknowledge that you’ve been ignoring me.
“No, no no… it’s cool, I get it. No one likes Depression. I’m not that fun and I have a pretty bad reputation for destroying people—you don’t have to say it. All the same, I’ve finally decided to pay you a visit. That being said, I’m here and I’m staying—Got it? Great. So, what’s for dinner tonight?”
You can imagine my despair when Depression plopped several years worth of suitcases on my front door step and took a seat on the couch. He (I always think of Depression as a male) even had his mail forwarded to my address.
At first, I thought it was some sick and twisted joke, that Depression would eventually rip off its faceless mask to reveal that it’d really been temporary post-break up disillusionment the whole time.
But as Halloween and April Fool’s Day passed and I noticed that Depression had taken the liberty of painting the walls inside my mind raven black, I realized that it wasn’t a joke at all. He had moved in and was making a home for himself. He hung curtains of salt and water in my eyes and rearranged my mental furniture. Records of my happier days started playing on loop 24/7.
Depression is quite a generous gift giver; there’s no skimping with him. No, he likes to do it up big. For my birthdays he buys me a storm cloud to wear as a hat, and for Christmas I receive the fear of another year coming to an end… fresh from the farm and wrapped in skull and crossbones embossed paper.
During the spring, Depression rummages through the attic of my mind. My hopes and dreams, which have turned moldy from being abandoned in such damp conditions, are brushed off and put out in his weekly yard sale. Depression tends to think I am a hoarder, so he sells as many aspirations as I bring home. But in all actuality, he never sells anything. He offers up my hopes for free to ensure he moves all the product.
It’s been seven years now.
Depression is terribly jealous and rather abusive at times. He’s ended all of my romantic relationships and threatens the few friendships I have left. He says it is for my own good—that I don’t need anyone else.
It’s really not fair because he’s been allowed to have an on-again, off-again affair with this chick named Ana. Me and Ana used to be kind of tight, but we’re sworn enemies now. That’s a story for another day. Depression considers me his main priority; Ana is just his side chick. How lucky I am.
I’ve tried fighting back countless times over the last seven years. I’ve tried drowning him, sedating him, suffocating him, reasoning with him, running away from him, distracting him… nothing works.
When our fights get really bad he storms out and goes missing for days or even weeks at a time. Not even a text to let me know he’s okay. It is during these times that I feel free to try socializing again, living again. But right when I go to bed thinking all is wonderful in the world, I wake up the next morning to find Depression lying right beside me:
“I’m back and I’m sorry. We shouldn’t have fought. Let me make it up to you by sleeping over for the next few months. Hey—hey, I got you something. They had apathy on sale and I thought it’d look great next to your anxiety. Isn’t it great?”
Depression is sort of like my wallet; I can’t leave home without him.
It’s rare, but when I do go out in public, he demands that I carry him high upon my shoulders so he can see opportunities that may make me happy sooner. He says it is easier for him to chase them away if he sees them coming over the horizon. I don’t know, I’m usually not paying any attention… something or another about prevention.
I’m not too sure what Depression eats, but he’s heavy as hell. The weight of him exhausts me even though I’ve tried my best to sleep my life away. I can’t even walk with my head held high anymore; Depression is killing my posture. He leaves me sluggish, slow, and horribly self-conscious.
You can forget about me speaking up for myself too. Depression speaks for me. He tells me that something bad will happen to me if I don’t repeat him verbatim, that people might find out about us.
“Hey, you want to go to Vegas? I haven’t seen you in forever!”
“Tell them NO. No, you don’t want to go to Vegas.”
“How have you been? Are you doing okay?”
“Tell him you’re fine. You’re always fine. I don’t care if it’s the truth. You’d better lie and keep lying.”
“Let’s go see that new movie this weekend. Want to?”
“What? Movies are stupid. Going to see them is stupid. Hurry and tell them you can’t because ‘you don’t feel well’… again.”
“OMG… I know the perfect guy for you! You guys would look really cute together.”
“She’s lying, by the way. You know you are boring and worthless, don’t you? He wouldn’t like you. You aren’t pretty or engaging enough. Tell her you don’t care if you ever date anyone else again. You like being alone. It’s better being alone. Tell everyone you’re happy being alone.”
Sometimes I believe what he says. Maybe it is better if I keep to myself. Who on Earth would want to be bothered with someone who has a stalker like Depression? It’s creepy, weird and awkward.
Besides, anyone else would simply be the third wheel at this point.
© C. M. 2018 All Rights Reserved
Commentary: I wrote this about four years ago at a time when my struggle with depression was becoming far too much to endure. In addition to seeking refuge from the isolation and sorrow that depression imposed upon me, I sought a means of making light of a truly debilitating condition. There is no possible way for me to count the days that came and went with me thinking that things would never get better.
After dealing with depression for eleven years of my life, “he” finally packed most of his things and moved out. Now, I won’t lie to you and say that my life is paved with sugar and rainbows… because it isn’t. Depression left his toothbrush in the guest bathroom and continues to have a pair of boxers in my dresser for the occasional late nights when he simply can’t be bothered to drive back home. He still visits, but I no longer receive his Pottery Barn catalogues at this address.
Depression can be extremely difficult to get through, but things can get better. If you are dealing with depression and feel as I once did, keep the faith and hold on to anything and everything that still makes you feel like you. For me, it was my sometimes twisted and sarcastic sense of humor. It may be really hard some days and the journey may often feel futile, but you’re well worth the effort.
Always keep reaching for that better day.
And for what it’s worth, I’m rooting for you.
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