A Conversation With My Depression
I haven’t seen you in two months! It has been quite nice – everything flourishes when you are gone. You left just in time for me to write my final exams and fix the damage that you had done to my grades. And my eyes and face are clearer! Thank you for finally giving me a Christmas without you.
What is the role that you play in my life’s story? Am I supposed to learn something from you?
I used to feel so much hope every time that you left. I used to think you would never come back. But then you’d come back even stronger. You’d choke me and cover my eyes. You’d eat every kind word and spit it out as bitter poison in my ears. In the night you would distract me with nightmares while you wound invisible weights around my legs – making it impossible to get up.
I don’t like what you do to me, but I can’t seem to hate you. Even when you’ve pinned me down and are sucking everything good out of me, I somehow let you.
I don’t welcome you in, but I don’t ask you to leave either. I think that’s the worst part – you abuse me but I secretly want you to stay, want to get to know you, want to give you my choices. What is wrong with me? I think I like you because you remove all of their expectations of me. You lock up my shop and put vacancy signs across my head. You keep me from the shower and that alone keeps me lonely – too embarrassed to be with people.
Ugh! I don’t really know what I want to say to you. I guess I am scared of you. I know we have our annual date coming up soon, and I don’t know if I can get you to leave this time. I’m tired.
Yes! It is I who do all these things to you. And are they not masterful? The intricate loops and webs of thought that I weave to keep you with me – do you not find them beautiful? I laugh when I play those teasing games in the summer. Where I show up out of the blue on a bright sunny day. Or, when I take your every breath and wait until you are just about to end before giving you one back. What a time we’ve had together! I certainly enjoy it.
But. I am shocked that you know so little of me. You do not have a door through which I might enter. You do not have a way to make me leave. Because I never leave. Ah, now isn’t that your worst fear? That I am always with you and that you are the monster?
Well this is how it is. I live in your body and rest sometimes, but I am always able to be woken.
Oh, but you must feel panic now – get it out! You think. And how would you do that? Would you cut all the bits out of you where I live? Surely you know that even your toes feel depressed sometimes. There would be nothing left of you if you were to do that.
So what next? How will you stop me from ruining your exams? Your friendships? How will you stop me from taking control of you wedding day?
Well I suppose you could always put me to sleep. There are pills and drugs to do that. I’m sure it’d be useful when I got really ugly. Tranquillize the bear. But for your whole life? You would carry my heavy, sleeping body with you your whole life? No, I don’t think that’s the path for you and I.
All I ask of you is that you look at me. Appreciate what I do. I want you to love me. Because each time you shudder with disgust or fear when I show you my face, you are only cringing at your own face.
You know that I am you, and you cannot pick and chose the parts of yourself to know and love.
See what it is I do. Feel how I make you feel. What is that numbness? Is it really numbness or is it a deep fog with a play of faint lights along the edges? Feel the storms that I brew and stand in awe as the clouds fill and rain for days in your eyes. Look at how I peel back manners and social structures within your relationships. Do you not feel more connected and in love with the people in your life because of me?
Oh, Sarah. Your sad songs are so sweet to me, and I only wish you would play them sometimes. I give you balance. I give you a full life – you do not just live in the day, but with me you understand the night. You see monsters and fears. Dread and death. I fill your life with them so that you will know them.
Because when you know them, you are no longer afraid. You can see them in others and hold their hand tighter. Don’t you see all that I give to you?
The greatest gift I give to you is when I am at my worst. When I have torn everyone away and brought you to a black desert. Where the clouds suffocate colour and the unending cold burns your skin. I take you here and pin you down. Pump water into your brain so that it feels electrocuted and unusable. I force you to eat your bitter memories – sucking every good one from you in the process. You deflate. You become like a baby lying on the ground – and sometimes I think you cannot take it. But I keep digging and poking and clawing until you think there is nothing left.
And then, I look down to see a burning pile of light in my claws. It is a strange bag of warmth, and I cannot touch it.
This is why you live through every visit I have with you – you have a bag of protected memories, love, people, goals, habits, and beliefs that keep you warm and alive even in the darkest desert.
And I only wanted to peel you back so that you could find this.
I will awake again and again. Please treat me with compassion because I am you and I love you.