I write about my neuroses for several reasons. The first is, write what you know. I’ve spent a lot of time with myself. We’re intimately acquainted.
I also write to understand. The more you think about something, the more you come to know it. The more you know, the better you are equipped to fight. This is important when you start falling.
Or not falling. It occurred to me recently that it didn’t feel so much like I was falling into depression’s pit as it felt like I was being dragged. Being taken somewhere I didn’t want to go against my will. Because all things being equal, I’d prefer not to be depressed.
I saw a commercial recently for a rather awful-looking Kristin Stewart movie about monsters underwater. But the image of the aquanaut being dragged back across the ocean floor by an unseen force while flailing in an attempt to resist resonated.
Sometimes depression is like falling. Sometimes you give up and let go. Sometimes you get tired. A lot of the time though, it feels like depression has me by the ankles and is dragging me down a tunnel to a destination I don’t want to visit.
You grab the sides and try to resist despite the dearth of handholds. You dig in your fingernails, get your fingertips bloody.
You strain hard; it’s the ultimate in isometric exercise. You can’t relax because depression rarely does. If you ease up on the resistant pressure for even a moment, down you go. The weight and pull gets worse the farther you travel.
You’re constantly looking for a way out, looking for something that will help you escape, perhaps an access tunnel on the side. Nothing fancy. Just a place where you can stop and rest, regain your strength. It can look like a lot of things. Weigh-stations have various guises. Of late, my access tunnel looks a lot like small bursts of activity, interspersed with both sitting in my thinking chair to read and binge-watching episodes of House.
The rest is nice. Time outs are great but they’re also a little tiny bit stressful; you know you can’t stay; you know they aren’t your forever place. You have to go back, try to get out, retake your life. Even though you really don’t want to. After all, access tunnels aren’t bad. Who needs life on the surface level? But, even if you decide to stay, to settle for the half-life, it doesn’t matter. Depression always finds you and grabs hold and starts to pull once more. Then it’s back to resisting and hoping the rest gave you enough energy to persist until something fundamental changes.
Until for whatever reason – pills, meditation, water, time, counselling – depression gives up.
But it’s taking a while this time and I’m tired and bored. Tired because of the aforementioned, energy-sucking struggle and bored because I’ve been here before and at its heart, depression is boring.
In the early days of a depression flare-up, you have more optimism. Yes, things are starting to suck but you know it will pass. The longer it persists, however, the harder that fact is to remember. The harder waiting it out gets.
You lighten the load. It’s necessary; you have to save yourself – primal instinct. You let things fall away: family, friends, work, recreation, self-care. They take energy; it’s hard to remember they’re important. It’s hard to remember that letting them go is part of depression’s master plan.
You forget that those things help. You don’t realize that they’re your connection to life out of the pit; that maybe they could throw you a lifeline. Sometimes they even try but you don’t see or refuse the help. You want out but are afraid of what will happen if you make any sudden moves.
So, you stay resistant, stay still, stay quiet. All you can focus on is the battle to avoid the bottom and the monsters that live there. And getting fresh air. And staying hydrated. Which, along with resisting, also help.
Do you spend time in self-analysis?