There is something I understand which I understand well. I understand the terms of loneliness. I understand the feelings of being lost or empty or worse; I understand the feeling of being absolutely nothing at all.
I say this openly and without shame or regrets. I also say this because at last, I don’t have to impress anyone anymore. And besides, this isn’t about anyone else.
I do not mind what people think about this nor do I have room to care about outside opinions. This is between us and this thing we call mental health. And I get it. Stigma is real. I know it is.
This is real to me too. I look the way I look. I talk the way I talk and act the way I act. I have this thing inside of me, which at times, this thing can be hard to live with.
It’s an idea. No, wait. It’s a thought. It’s a sense of being detached or not being included; and by the way, I have this thing even if I am included. I have this thing in me that lies and whispers. I wanted it to go away but no, it never did.
I have this feeling of being misplaced or as if I’ve gone astray. I’ve felt this way, even in familiar territory. And again, there is no shame behind this. I am not degrading myself or putting myself down. This is called honesty. This is called being open. This doesn’t mean there is something wrong with me. Instead, this means I have loved with a challenge in chemistry. I understand that to some, this might sound extreme. But then again, I am not writing this for them. I’m not even writing this for me. This is for you.
If I asked you about your version of depression, how would you describe this to me? What would you say? Or, would you even say anything at all? Would you deny it?
How would you describe your thoughts to me?
If it helps, I can offer you a description of my version.
I know what it’s like for me to live in my head. All thoughts are crucial and critical. And it’s like, hey, can I just have a minute? Can we take a break? Can everything just stop? Just for a minute.
But no. Nothing stops. The clock keeps ticking and the gears keep turning. The thoughts keep moving and the impending doom sinks me deeper like the suffocating thought of drowning in emotional quicksand.
I know what it’s like to be locked in and separated. As a matter of fact, the one thing I was hoping for after the world reopened in the post-pandemic is that we can all somehow reunite for a little while. I want to put the virtualness behind us. I want to see faces again. You know? Me, you; no fear, no worries, and just a good time had by all.
To some, the idea of isolation or being quarantined is part of their mindset. This is life both pre and post-Covid. To be sequestered, removed, withdrawn; to be kept apart and yet meanwhile, life is going on outside. There are people who feel this way all the time.
To be honest, I have a different understanding of isolation. First, I think it is important to note that I have improved. I have healed some of my old wounds and I have outgrown some of my old sicknesses. But yet, I remember them very well. I understand the language of my old thinking, which creeps in from time to time.
I know what it feels like to have dark thoughts that dim the light of anything bright or hopeful. And I swear, you just want to feel better. You’d be fine if there was something that you could see, feel, touch or relate to. You just want answers but yet, the questions about everything become pretty tricky too.
To me, there was this thing; like an invisible barrier between myself and the rest of the world. There was a film. There was a clear layer, which meant that as much as I wanted to touch, see or feel something; I could only enjoy so much. I could only see so clearly. I could reach as hard as I tried but there was this sense in me; as if, not matter how I reached, I could only come close but I could never touch what I wanted.
People would laugh. I would laugh too, but the joke was never that funny to me. There was the idea that something was wrong with me. There was something inherently wrong with me. And I couldn’t describe this.
But wait. People had their thoughts and opinions. I heard suggestions. People would tell me to “Just” stop thinking this way but to me, this was “Just” impossible.
There is something that goes misunderstood. There are people who mistake paranoia for anxiety and depression. It’s not paranoia; it’s a way of thinking. It’s a way of believing that something can and will go wrong, like the threat of impending doom because thoughts and feelings reflect the chemical changes of emotion; in which case, we think the way we feel and we act the way we think. Understand? Depression is not paranoia; we just think so little of ourselves that we suppose we deserve nothing but disappointment.
I lived this way for a very long time. I hated. I worried. I lost. I mourned. And sometimes, I wept.
There is a song that I relate to. As a matter of fact, I think I will leave the song here for you to listen to.
I suppose this song has a lot of meanings. For me, the lyrics are impactful and accurate. The song opens with the words, “Keep climbing into my head without knocking.”
I get that.
And that’s it. That’s the way it feels; this thing in me; this thing we call depression or sadness or desperateness or whatever it is. All I can say is there is this presence; there is this thing so big and yet, none of this is even real. But yet, it is real. It’s very real.
Most of all, this was very real to me. In fact, most of what I thought was not actually true. It was only true to me.
There are times I remember. And these were the hardest times. The bitch of it is that things could be good, and yet, I knew in my heart that nothing good would ever stay.
I thought of myself as a problem; that nothing would ever be right about me; that nothing would ever fit so well; that I would always be pushed in like a puzzle piece that was close enough but never fit properly. And I pushed and I shoved and I contorted myself to fit or “Be” or pretended “As if.” But yet, I knew in my gut that there was something off, misshaped or wrong about me.
I used to wonder why people could have the life they wanted. I used to argue with myself about the life I wanted and found myself losing to thoughts that predicted my downfalls.
I, me, you and all the differences in-between. You couldn’t see this. You couldn’t have known. You couldn’t understand. How could you?
See what I mean when I talk about the loneliness?
Even if you had a suspicion; even if you knew a little bit because I told you; there was no way for you to know or completely understand. There was you. There was the world. There were the crowds in the street and the life around us. And then there was me. Isolated. I know what this is. I know what they called it but I just called this me. I called this my depression. I called this my cage that I lived in, which no one else could see.
Have you ever been invited somewhere and you really wanted to go but yet, you just can’t. It kills you to miss out. It hurts to be left out or to not be included. You know you want to be there; you want to be “In” but yet, you can’t be.
At least, not really.
There’s an invisible dome around your life, like an unwanted force field. There’s this invisible prison; there’s a layer over you; it’s a film that separates you from yourself and everything else in the world. Nothing you see or feel is quite as exquisite as what everyone else is experiencing. And all this does is leaves you to feel nothing else but cursed and different.
I go back to that song, Dogwood Blossom:
“Darling, darling that dam’s gonna give
It’s inevitable the way that you live
Bottles in brown paper and a mouth that slurs
All the shit that it stirs
Let that dogwood blossom
There’ll be hell to pay in heaven.”
I am telling you this because I want you to know something. And I don’t really care about anyone else right now, I don’t care about the critics or the wellness brigades or all the people with opinions about depression. I don’t care about the professionals or their clipboards. I don’t care about the “Likes” on social media.
I just want you to know.
I want you to see.
I want the world to see that there are people who live with something in their life and somehow, in some way, there are people who learn to live and continue. I want the world to look past their nose.
There is more to this than people see. Perhaps this is why most people never dare to step out and be themselves. And just for the record: We don’t have to suffer or struggle.
We don’t have to contend with the voices anymore. We don’t have to talk back or lose to them. We can improve. We can keep going. We can pull a trick you and me and change the voices in our head. We can create a new one. It’s a big trick, I know. But we can do it. And I can help. If you let me.
There’s nothing wrong with me.
There’s nothing wrong with you either.
We only think there is.
At least, I used to think so.
Only thing I have to offer you is this.
Speak up. Don’t stay in the cage. Talk to someone.
You don’t have to tell everyone everything but you do have to tell someone something.
Otherwise, this just sits and grows bigger.
I don’t know if this is helpful or not.
It’s just honest.
The sun is out now. I can see the early rays shine over the trees that stand across from my home. My window gives me a view of this and because of this, I’m grateful.
I’m proud of you and most of all, I love you.
I just want you to love yourself too.