I write about this because this is very real to me. I also write about this because although many people suffer or struggle in silence, and as they see it, no one understands and no one else gets it, but still, this is very real to them too.
Either way, whether right or not, I think this hits home for all too many people. I think that everyone has their own ideas and their own ways. And me, I have mine too. I had my own soundtrack in my mind that emulated my thoughts and feelings throughout my life.
I wonder if this makes sense to people.
For example, if you could give your life a soundtrack, what would it be? What music would you choose to depict the quiet times and deep thoughts? If there was a time in your life when all was challenged and everything was bleak; what would the sound of this be like to you.
There was a time in my ex-life when I was driving home after work. It was nighttime. The world around me was incredibly quiet. I drove at a normal speed. The streetlights passed me, shining the periodic light on my face one by one as I drove by.
I was as deep in thought as one could be, partly in disbelief that life could be this way, partly thinking this is just more of the same, partly beaten, partly broken, but mostly wishing I was somewhere or anywhere else in the world, and wishing I was living a different life in a different town, and being someone else around different people.
I wanted to feel needed, wanted, desired, important, and a long list of other ideas. I drove through the streets of the town and looked at the different homes. The streets were wide. The town was well-to-do and slightly above the normal middle income. I lived in this town, and yet, none of this was me.
Nothing felt as if it were mine but instead, life was more of this thing which was happening to me. Life was happening right before my eyes, without any input from me; almost like I was falling only, in slow-motion, and there was nothing I could do about it.
It seemed as though I was being flushed away. As a matter of fact, I explain the way my life seemed the same way, each time, especially when the subject comes to depression.
In the grips of this it was as though I was losing my life the way water loses to a drain.
There was no stopping it. I swear this was like dying alive and to me, there was no end in sight. There was no possibility nor were there any answers that could satisfy my depression.
I was losing.
There is no other way I can describe it better than this. Try as I might, everything seemed to crumble.
My hopes were crushed. My dreams were only this tiny glimmer inside of me that I would never speak about or ever share with anyone because if I did, what then? What would I have left if I didn’t have anything left at all?
I can see myself as I was that night in the car. I can literally see the streetlights on the road and the way the light hit me and then moving back into darkness.
I drove around for a while. I drove by the different homes in the neighborhood and saw different families in their big bay windows that opened into living rooms.
I saw people moving throughout their homes as if their windows were a huge screen television. I viewed them like a spectator watching someone else live their life. This was so surreal, so sharp and yet, so true.
By the time I reached home, I pulled into my driveway. I watched the big bay window in the front of my home. There was a life inside which did not belong to me. There were people in the home. There was a mother and a child. And yet, I felt as if I was only a tenant. I was a roommate.
I had no voice here. I had no life here. There was nothing to celebrate. There was no challenge or need that gave me a sense of ownership or satisfaction.
I watched the window of a house that I lived in and felt like a complete and total stranger. None of it was mine. At least, not really.
Nothing about me was valued here and nothing about the home was really valued by me.
Instead, I looked into the front window of home and there, firsthand, I saw what it means to have settled or traded my life for a different value because above all things; I was petrified of being alone and loveless. Yet, meanwhile, this is where I lived and yet, meanwhile, this is exactly how I felt; alone and loveless.
I can say this is one of the darkest moments of my life.
I remember there was a voice inside of me, just screaming to get out. I wanted to get away. I wanted to get away from myself and everything, all at the same time.
And yes, I contemplated the end. I contemplated terrible things, except for drinking. I never thought about drinking or getting high because this was worse than killing myself.
The one thing I would (and will) never give up on is this thing I own; which is this thing I have completed on a daily basis since April 1, 1991.
I would rather die than this.
I would rather die than lose this but yet, depression is dying.
Literally, depression is dying alive, slowly and often tragically to the point that getting out of bed is just impossible let alone, unimportant.
I was here. I was desperate. As authentic as my words will allow me to be; I was being sucked down this drain and there was nothing I could do to control this.
I could try, right? I could kick and I could scream? I could shake my fists at the sky or punch holes in the wall, but what good would any of this do?
I suppose after my divorce, I was alone and on the ground. I was on my knees and I couldn’t figure out why my life was this way.
I couldn’t understand why my life always appeared so difficult and everyone else appeared to have it so much easier.
I remember a walk I took and there was a woman that pointed to a homeless man. He was nodding out and spiraling down, dirty as ever, filthy, and he smelled awful.
His hair was matted and his shirt was filthy. His clothes were too loose for his skinny body and his eyelids were only three-quarters shut, like a zombie possessed by a chemical reaction.
The woman pointed at the homeless man and said, “Who would want to live there life like that?”
I remember thinking this was me. Although not literally, this was me. I was nodding out on my own life. I was giving up. I had given in and I was spiraling down, or more accurately, I was sucked into the spiraling drain, without even fighting, and losing myself no differently from the way the homeless man was losing himself.
If asked, my answer would have been no, I did not want this to be my life. If asked I wished I could have been more fluent. I would have loved to been better at anything than believe I was worse about everything.
There is an idea I have, which is similar to the drain I lost to. More than anything, I was losing to the emotional quicksand, in which it seemed no matter how hard I tried to regain myself, I would only sink in deeper. Nothing could save me. No one could help me. Nothing made sense and no one else understood.
First and foremost, depression is incredibly real. Loss is real. Pain is real. However, depression is only as real and as alive as we allow it to be. And this was me, always giving into my thoughts. This was me, always giving into my ideas that whomever I wanted to be and whatever I wanted to have would always escape my grip.
There are people that talk about the fear of success. I was not afraid to succeed. It was not the success that was the scary part.
No, it was the short-lived phenomenon that frightened me because what happens when the thrill is gone and all that’s left is work?
What happens when the novelty wears off? What do I do when the congratulations ends and the crowd dwindles and the lonesomeness returns.
More importantly what happens to happiness when the moment turns from happiness and the pain comes back. Anticipation like this is the root of depression.
I was never afraid to succeed. I was afraid to try. I was afraid to be vulnerable. I was afraid to be afraid and afraid to feel unprotected.
There came a time that I knew I needed to change. I had to resign to the fact that some things are unalterable. I had to learn that as hard as I want to be or as tough as I wanted to act; the truth is I was afraid. I was hurting. I was depressed and more and more, I was losing like water lost to a drain.
The first step for me was to change the simplest things within my grip. I had to take a step.
I compare this to a time when I was away on a farm. My reasons for being here were not because I enjoy the farming life. This was punishment but yet, this was also rehabilitation.
What I remember most were the mornings on the farm. The alarm went off before sunrise. The bunk leader would run to the light switch while counting to 20 as loud as he could.
Everyone jumped from their beds because the rule was everyone had to be on their feet with the bunk made by the count of 20.
Safe to say that I hated this for a very long time.
Safe to say this is exactly how I saved my own life.
In the face of my depression, I had to do something very similar. Like it or not, I had to get up and get moving. No matter what!
The only way for me to beat the vortex of the drain was for me to act. I had to build, no matter how hard it seemed or how much I hurt; I had to pile one completion upon another.
I had to learn to step aside from myself and replace my thinking with beneficial actions. I had to learn to get outside. I had to learn to step outside of my comfort zone and be comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.
I fell to the floor one afternoon and hit the ground on my knees. I swore I could never live this way again, and sometimes, I have my share of flare-ups. Sometimes I react. Sometimes the old ideas come to mind and sometimes it hurts to the point where I lose faith in me.
Then I think about the sound of the alarm going off. I think about the sound of a bunk leader counting to 20.
I get up and I get moving. It doesn’t matter if I’m tired. It doesn’t matter if I’m sad. All that matters is I do not give into the drain and allow myself to be sucked in.
I never want to live my life as if I am dying. I want to live my life so I can feel as if I am alive.
Suicide is not the answer.
I just wish some of my friends were still around because I would step in and tell them this before they left.
I don’t know why I survived my own acts.
I just know that I did.
There must be a reason for it.
My alarm is going off.
That means I have to get up and get moving.