This depression feels like weight. It is some kind of lead blanket tied to the inside of my chest, pulling me down, crushing my organs. Maybe it’s supposed to protect me from cosmic xrays or something. Or maybe it just sucks. I can barely hold my head up. When I walk the heaviness pulls my shoulders down and I slump. I’m sure it’s wrecking my back, but I don’t feel like thinking about long-haul anything, so that’s nothing more than an idle thought to add to the pile of ways I am screwing up.
The suicidal ideation is back. I’m not actually suicidal, but I wish I could be. I wish I didn’t care so much about the people I would leave. My husband would be on his own in the world. My mother would die. Maybe not actually die, but some vital part would. I’ve already messed up enough, I can’t do those things too. So basically, there is no way out. There is no way to stop this.
I’ve had a bad cold for a couple of days, and some rational part of my brain is telling me that the depression is probably just an artifact of having been sick. That happens sometimes. But the parts of me that count, the cold, emotional, vicious parts, know it is not that. It is the manifestation of whatever it is in me that is rotten, decaying and harmful. So basically, lying to me, but I buy it. Why is it so much easier to believe that I’m a fundamentally damaged waste of time and space, than to accept that three days of fever and not being able to breathe through my nose have pushed my mood down?
A blogger I read says she has maybe 3-4 days a month where she really feels like she has her shit together, and is worthwhile. This is clearly not one of my days.
I’m suffocating under the weight of all the stillborn accomplishments, all the failed starts, all the disappointments and the let-downs. I’m crushed under the heaviness of my ineptitude and my inability to do anything with my life. The worst of it, is how ordinary and commonplace that sounds. I’m reduced to cliches about depression. I can’t even be miserable in any special way. I’m just depressed. There is nothing romantic, or tortured about it. Just a sucking pit, and a lead blanket to push me down into it.
I accept that most of what happens to me is chemical. I know my brain chemistry is the kind that punishes you for your wrong moves. I know my response to stress is not to take on the challenge and thrive. It’s more of a retreat and try not to take anyone else down with me thing. I am vulnerable to depression, in the same way that I am vulnerable to the highs that push me into overdrive, goad me into bad decisions, and exhaust everyone else. Knowing that doesn’t actually make anything any better though.
When I am a refugee, stranded on the couch, it doesn’t really matter that much where it comes from. What matters is that the effort to overcome the weight and get oxygen into my lungs is not something I am really interested in doing.
They don’t talk about this part much, the physicality of depression. They don’t really give you photocopied handouts to manage the feeling that your body is failing, that your limbs are so heavy, they might rip the skin and come free of your torso. When they say, pull yourself together, I imagine the ridiculous situation where I would be trying to pick up my unattached limbs from the floor, and somehow, without hands, graft them back on to me. I feel like my hands will leave dents in the table. I have them on the edge, trying to brace myself, so I won’t fall on the floor. The floor would be safer. You can’t fall off the floor, but I feel like the tonnes of me would leave a depression in the floor boards. Yeah, I know, physics. That isn’t actually going to happen, but some part of me is borderline delusional today, and so I can see it. I can see my lungs shrinking in capacity because of the blanket pushing down on them, and I can feel the skin around my shoulder tighten from holding the weight of my dying limbs.