The Venomous Sadness of Depression
I am sitting in my balcony under the soothing winter sun, and I want to write about sadness. Not the “someone ate my cookie” kind — more like “someone ate my cookie because I am a bad person and I don’t deserve anything sweet ever” kind. The harrowing kind. The draining kind. The kind that lingers on at the back of your head even in the happiest of your moments, like a little vicious leech that got into your head through the ears in the dark of the night. A creature that keeps crawling in between all your nerve endings to constantly remind you of its existence — all its tentacles scratching through your brain till your head is abuzz with the shrieking noises of its presence. And sometimes, it hibernates and you sigh in relief — but not too soon, for it keeps dripping the viscous bile of fear in your mind, a drop at a time. Drip. Drip. It’s not gone yet. It will wake up. Shh, be careful. Don’t laugh too loud. Don’t swirl too fast. What if your thumping, crackling joy wakes it up? Shh. Don’t be so happy, don’t be so reckless. The beast that rules your head is there and will always be there — coming back, again and again to remind you it owns your very being. And what if it breeds? Oh! What if it breeds? The horror of horrors, the most terrible of things — the thought never leaves you be, does it?
As morose as it may sound, this is the kind of sadness I want to talk about. Not because it’s that time of the month, not because I am a sadist and love imagining you cringe in your seat reading about leeches inside my head but simply because this is the only kind of sadness I know. The omnipotent, all-consuming kind. The “sucks your blood and leaves you for dead” kind. The “why are you roaming around the house like a zombie?” kind. The “I’ve been crying for an hour because my room is not clean” kind. The “can I please stay in this cuddle forever and not do anything ever?” kind. The “I don’t want to move and in all honesty, I don’t even want to exist” kind.
I know not when the leech entered my head and carved its way through my tiny ears (or was it my nose? Yuck!). All I know is it’s been there for as long as I remember. Making me writhe and wriggle of pain and helpless anger, which for a long time, nobody understood. I didn’t either.
And now, the scariest moments of the month for me are when my doctor reassures me he can make it all go. I wince every time he says, “with the medicines, we can control these bouts completely or at least reduce them to a level where they don’t bother you anymore.” No! What are you talking about, doctor? Are saying you will take from me my only constant companion? The being that has seen me grow all these years with and despite of it. That, which like a twin-spirit has clung on to my heart for the longest of time. Who will I go home to if I don’t have the horrid numbness and panic waiting for me under my blankets? What use will the cold marble floor in frigid winters be, if not to remind my naked body that it can still feel pain? “No,” I want to scream, “you can’t take away my heart, my home, a part of my soul!” And yet, every morning, I pop the blue pill. On nights when sadness and panic lure me into bed with them, I pop two smaller nondescript ones which are the color of flesh. The doctor repeats, “They will make you better,” and so I too chant, “This will make me better,” and swallow.
I speak, most days, in a loud ringing voice. Drip. I jump and dance around. Drip. I talk in gibberish and I twirl in shopping mall aisles. Drip. I crack bad jokes and make puns that reek of innuendo. Drip. Drip. I love with abundance and hug like the earth. Drip. I laugh! I shriek in joy! Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. The viscous bile of fear never stops dripping. Calling me back, one drop at a time. No amounts of blue pills will make my joy permanent, it tells me. But the doctor still hopes and I do too because hope is the beast’s lullaby. The hope of sunlit winter afternoons spent lying next to a loved one, with a book and a slice of last night’s pizza. The hope of surviving a night by yourself, not succumbing to darkness. The hope of words well written, songs well sung and blood red pomegranate seeds in your palm.
Hope, will keep the beast sleeping.
Till then, Sylvia Plath.
“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart; I am, I am, I am.”
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.
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Thinkstock photo by baltic boy