Doldrums

Everyone Likes to Pretend

You’re out there. Somewhere. Staring at the cursor blinking on the blank page, struggling to string thoughts into words into sentences into paragraphs. Maybe it’s morning, afternoon, midnight. A beer, a whisky, a tumbler of water, or a piping hot tea set to one side of you laptop or desktop computer. Apple of Chromebook or something from HP. Maybe you lost sleep last night, or overslept in the morning. Or you found that perfect set of hours, waking up refreshed and ready to take on the day. You gather textbooks or briefcase or a journal and pen and head off to school, the office, or café. Today is a busy day, or a sabbatical. You beat out a rhythm with a pencil drumstick as you wait for an e-mail to arrive. Or it’s a day at the park. Or one better spent browsing the shelves of your local used bookstore. You scan the titles, zeroing in on the one the cute guy or gal from work or class or the public library spent hours reading during his or her free time. You pick up the novel, the tome, the short collection of stories or poems. It’s something you never read before, or it’s all too familiar. You put it back on the shelf, or reshelf it in the most ridiculous place—like the time you hid that collection of smutty tales in next to the For Her Bibles—or you make your way to the front and buy the copy. You slip away into the crowd, or you head off in the opposite direction in order to avoid running into someone you might have gone to high school with because you hate small talk and you know it’s going to happen when you run into one. Those annoying questions about asking where have you been, what have you been doing, or what do you do these days? Are you still with so-and-so, or the getting the updated news of how a high school sweetheart is married, pregnant, both or deceased. You pace yourself at home, or you avoid eye contact at work.

You’re out there. Somewhere. On a Friday or Saturday night sprawled out on the couch, or lying in bed. A bucket of popcorn rests besides you as you channel surf or scroll through the endless suggestions on Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video, or Hulu Plus. You choose to watch a movie, or TV show, or something from you childhood. You turn off the set and the light and just lie in the dark staring at the ceiling as your eyes do their best to adjust. Small explosions erupt in through the black, sending swirls of colors dancing before you. It’s something you want to know if others experience so you reach for your phone to text a close friend or special someone, but stop short because it sets in. While you’re ready to end your day, everyone is just beginning their nights. And while a part of you longs to join the crowd, you know that you don’t belong. All those quirks that make you feel charming leaves an aloof flavor in other people’s mouths. So you think better of it and set the phone back down on the nightstand, on the armrest, or the windowsill. You spend in the night imaging situations, rehearsing lines for Monday when you go back to work, or school, or the bookstore, or park. You practice scripts of dialogue, memorizing all the right words to say when someone asks you about your weekend. You practice your smile, and know it wouldn’t convince anyone but they’ll play along with you because, let’s face it, everyone likes to pretend.

You’re out there. Somewhere. Laughing when you crying would better suit you. Or crying as you remember the laughter you experience in the past, wondering if you can ever reach those days again. You stuff your hands in your pockets and smirk when someone asks you if you’re ok. And you go on a tangent about the origin of the phrase ok and how it’s an abbreviation for a purposefully misspelled variant of all correct. You get on the bus, or behind the wheel, or the passenger or backseat in a carpool. You laugh at all the right jokes. You smile at the right moments. You react the way you’re supposed to. You find yourself in a quiet place at the office, park, bookstore, or café. Take in a deep breath. And pace yourself.

You’re out there. Somewhere.

Personal

This Post Wasn’t Meant To Be And Yet It Is

Last night, I listened to depressing music followed by the latest episode of Skins followed by more depressing music. I prefer depression these days, it seems. There’s probably some psychological term for people like me. And whatever it is, I’m sure it’s absolute bullshit. Not that I thrive on depression. Not at all. It’s the sense that I’m undeserving of an ounce of happiness. This morning, my physical body caught up to my emotional one. Something I did yesterday has caused me to remain prostrate in bed for most of the day.

I listened to each song carefully last night, writing down the ones that caught my attention the most. I’m compiling a list—I share it here along with a story or a review or whatever—to burn on a CD (who does that anymore?—Trust me, if I could, I’d be recording mixes on cassette tapes).

The other night, I started writing a letter. Ashton knows about it. I meant to share it on here, but it’s far from completion. Even my correspondence goes through drafts, apparently. So many thoughts traveling through my head. Sometimes I just want to meet someone who can just—I don’t know—balance me. That’s not so much to ask for, is it?

Personal

Fuck

There are moments when the soul crushing depression hits and I’m crippled. My own voice betrays me that, if I even try to cry, it’ll crack. I hold a sob. In the stacks, I’m scanning the books. I’m putting them in order. I try to regain my balance, because it’s been too long since I’ve managed this on my own. Veronica once told me that I found my balance in the person I love. And it’s true. Back then, when I took a stumble for the worse, Jeanna was always there to keep me from falling. Now that’s all gone and I’m back to doing it by putting things in order. By fingering a coin. By counting the ceiling tiles. The steps I take in a day. By staring at white walls and hoping that I can center myself.

Today, at work, I did my best to regain my stride. The problem is, the more I tried to center myself. The more that I tried to keep the monster out. The more I did to hinder the disease. The more I sank deeper. Like struggling in quick sand. And what do you say to people without revealing your secret? That there’s a voice living in your head whispering negativities? How do you say it with a straight face?

Circumstances have changed. This demon will not be ignored.

 

Doldrums

“You find your demon’s your best friend”

Depression’s heavy. Cinder blocks lined on your shoulders heavy. Beached whale heavy. Burden-laden, love-ridden, endless insomniac nighttime, television watching heavy.

I lost myself in the rows of gravestones looking for his, Teddy’s–a high school friend who died before graduation. Izzy wanted to visit the cemetery, and since they have no dead relatives they knew or cared about, we sought out the people who I knew. I sat on the ground with Shaun in front of where my friend now rests. This being the second time I paid him a visit since he died in 2001. There was no privacy, so I didn’t talk to the dirt or rock. And it’s funny, though. After all these years of not believing in a god, a heaven or hell, a soul, or an afterlife, I still manage to talk to the dead as if their metaphysical selves linger on this earth. Some practices are not easily forgotten, and perhaps they aren’t due to therapeutic purposes.

Even if I was left to my thoughts, what words would I say? Hi, Teddy. Sorry I haven’t visited much. I’m too busy living, something you weren’t given the opportunity to experience. Not the in the same sense as the rest of us, anyway. And exactly what would have you become if you had? A doctor? A lawyer? A political figurehead that would have changed the game? Who cares about any of that, anyway? There’s this myth that it’s not who you are that defines you, but what you do that makes you who you are. I don’t think that’s true. It’s not who you are or what you do that defines a person, it’s those you leave behind in the end. The people who love you and carry you around long after your gone. This is my son and I love him dearly. His mother and I, well, we weren’t cut out for each other, I suppose. I really wish we were, though. But things are great. My son loves me. And I suppose if no one else does, at least I have that to keep me moving forward. And that’s what I most sorry for, Teddy. It’s not that you didn’t get the opportunity to make a mark on this world, it’s that you never got to feel what I’m feeling–never had the experience of fatherhood.

I’m not good at reading people’s emotions. I can’t say I lack empathy, but it’s not something I experience often enough. I tread lightly around others because I don’t know what they’re going to do. People are a mystery to me. What compels them to smile, cry, grow angry, or whatever is a mystery. I’m not a fan of Descartes, but to paraphrase him: I know I’m a creature of thought and ration, but what are you?

And the worse of it is, I never know how to react to others’ emotions. I never see them as angry or sad until it affects me. A reason, I may add, that makes me a terrible boyfriend.

A while ago, I stopped at my boss’s office to have a chat. Nothing major, just wanted to talk about–what else–my life (I’ve learned that this never works, as I’m often times pulled into a conversation that doesn’t pertain me, but I have to listen quietly because it’s social contract that if I want to talk about me, I have to listen as they talk about themselves). She starts off by stating something about the people upstairs (literal, not figuratively), then apologizes for crying (which I didn’t notice until she mentioned it). We spoke about this before. Told her a couple of times, actually. I can’t read people, and I never know how to react when someone is crying. Especially if that someone isn’t an intimate (at least I can hug them).

And something happened today, I became anxious. An emotion transferred to me by my coworkers. Even though I accredit it to the fact that their anxiety only made me anxious, and not empathy, I was proud of myself for a moment. It passed as I tried to read the face of my coworker and saw nothing. I looked at the face of my boss, and nothing.

Someone once told me I care too much about what people think of me. As a regular joe, I guess I do. But I lived my whole life not being able to see what people were thinking or feeling, that I don’t think it’s any more than I should.

When it was time to go, I punched out. But Angela was still in the back, so I remained at the seat until it was officially time for me to leave. I went to retrieve her when my ride arrived, and she looked at her watch (she’s one of the few people who I know who wears one) and asked why I didn’t call her before. “It’s called kindness,” I responded. “I do that sometimes.”

And I felt it. The creepy feeling I always get before the waves wash over me and I’m drowning. As I said my goodbyes, the undertow pulled me beneath the water and her voice and face were but a garble to my senses.

I played the absent lover in most of my relationships. The one loved the feeling of being loved, but resented the obligation of returning the affection.

Don’t misquote that. I have and still love certain people. The obvious people who I won’t list. And no matter who’s stuck around, there is one that has never left my side even in its absence. The personification of the illness that grows through me. That lies in wait for an opportunity to pounce and devour me. The thing that isolates me further. The curtain will fall one day, and hopefully I’ll understand this life when my last performance fades to black. Because, don’t we all get it in the end?

Doldrums

“The right slot for your sacred key”

Bared on your tomb
I am a prayer for your loneliness
And would you ever soon
Come above unto me?
For once upon a time
From the binds of your holiness
I could always find
The right slot for your sacred key

I can’t sleep. I haven’t been getting much these last few days, weeks, months. Like a recurring nightmare, the dream of a sweeter time in my life keeps revealing itself, jolting me awake, leaving me with the realization how lonely I am. The greatest part of this scenario is I haven’t a single person to share this dream with. Nor would I if someone would offer to listen.

I used to think of a world in which I’m not a part. A scarier thought never crossed my mind. Not suicide, just a world in which I never existed. How much happier would people be if I never polluted their lives. If my indecision or inability to act never held them back from bigger and better.

I used to think of suicide, too. What a waste of life. At my weakest state, that seemed like the best solution for everything. I read a post by someone on Tumblr stating that suicide wasn’t a form of weakness. Her argument seemed sound, but it lacked everything. We only get one life, one shot to do something great. Even in the smallest way, we leave a mark that changes the world. Maybe not the whole world, but maybe someone’s world. And quitting before you even get a chance to start is possibly the most selfish thing. And selfishness is the sign of weakness. I should know.

I’m rambling. I know that there isn’t any linear way to describe depression. Fuck it. I’m out.

 

 

Doldrums

I Need A Doctor

“You’re a beautiful nightmare/And nothing can wake me up from you” –Skylar Grey

I’m not even sure what I meant by it, you know? The feeling’s still there, but the emotion’s gone. If that makes any sense. Sometimes, it’s like I’m just traversing the between the living and the dead. I’m haunting this place. My life. Those I loved.

There’s this delusion I read about while living. Cotard’s, it’s called. When a person has Cotard Delusion, he believes that he is already dead. Not wanting to die. Not suicidal. Dead. Doorknob-esque. I’m not sure if anyone ever recovers from it, but who’s to say? I’m definitely not. In extreme cases, people with Cotard’s tend to kill themselves. Again, this isn’t suicide. They firmly believe that they are not living, therefore, cannot die again. In other cases, they believe they can “feel” their innards fester, smell their bodies rotting.

My favorite case was about a man who survived a motorcycle accident. He believed that he visited his mother in her dreams every night. That was the only explanation for why she still continued interacting with him. In hopes to free him from his delusion, she took him on a trip to Africa. Through his eyes, however, she joined him on a tour of Hell.

“Or one begins asking oneself that same question differently. Am I dead? Though this question at no time explicitly translates to Should I be dead, eventually the suicide hotline is called. You are, as usual watching television, the eight-o’clock movie, when a number flashes on the screen: 1-800-SUICIDE. You dial the number. Do you feel like killing yourself? the man on the other end of the receiver asks. You tell him, I feel like I am already dead. When he makes no response you add, I am in death’s position. He finally says, Don’t believe what you are thinking and feeling. Then he asks, Where do you live?” – Claudia Rankine, Don’t Let me Be Lonely

There have been times when I wondered if I’m, in fact, non-existent. Not dead. Not even invisible. I begin to have this terrible feeling that I don’t actually exist. And that this is just some dream. A brain in a vat.

The thing about depression is that the more you allow to pile on top, the less you feel anything. And the less you feel, the more you begin to think. There isn’t any fear of not existing anymore than a fear of dying.