Why I Named My Depression, and What He Would Be Like as a Roommate
Editor’s note: If you struggle with self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.
His name is Sam.
You come home one day and he’s lying on your couch, his bag propped at one end.
You don’t know him but he seems at home.
You ask him to leave.
Even if you call the cops and have them take him away, you can’t afford to keep him away forever so you take matters into your own hands.
You cook healthy food. You buy a treadmill and make him run.
You try to wear him down, make living with you so insufferable that he finally leaves.
One day, you come home and find his stuff has spread. His razor is propped up on your bathroom shelf, a thin dusting of hair on your sink. His jeans, smeared with ketchup and covered in crumbs, are in your laundry basket. His gaming console is hooked up to your TV.
You don’t have the energy to fight him, not today.
Stepping over his shit, you make your way to your room and quietly shut the door. You don’t want company either. Not with him here.
The next morning, you emerge to him taunting you. Vulgar curses. Deprecating statements about how you aren’t good enough, you’re fat, you’re ugly. Your boss thinks you do a shitty job and your friends are only pretending to like you because they pity you.
His spit lands on your bare arm as he screams, as you wade through his stuff and out the door.
You get to work and you’re late.
“I’m sorry, I couldn’t… Sam, he, uh… Well, I couldn’t leave on time —”
“Jesus, you’re really going to pass the blame? Kick the guy out already.”
“I’ve tried, and —”
“Try harder. Have you tried running? That’s what my cousin did. Worked for him.”
“Well, yeah, but —”
“Honestly, I’m not even sure I believe this whole ‘Sam’ story anyway. Sounds like an excuse to be lazy, if you ask me.”
In this moment, you learn your problem is invalid. It is not Sam’s fault; it is your fault.
You get to your desk and pick up the framed picture of your family. In your place are his stained jeans, his torn up sneakers, his unwashed hair.
On your face is his face.
You grab fast food on your way home. Forcing the front door open, you silently clamber over his things and toss Sam a bag of food as you walk in.
“Fuckin’ fat ass.”
You say nothing.
You walk through the kitchen to see the dishes stacked up, the pantry door swinging open to reveal empty shelves. Your feet stick to the floor where something was spilled and never cleaned up.
From the other room, you hear: “Hey! Has anyone told you that you’re worthless today?”
“Well, if they haven’t — you’re a worthless sack of shit.”
You slam the door to your room and see your bed is unmade, Sam’s greasy hairs stuck to your pillow.
You curl up on the floor.
You think about suicide and Sam’s there, kicking you in the ribs.
“Do it. Do it. Do it. I dare you to.”
Between your screams and gasping breaths, he pushes on.
“I bet you wouldn’t. I bet you’re such a wimp, such a spineless and pathetic idiot that you wouldn’t have the guts to. Why do you even bother living? This is just sad. You’d be better off dead, really. Don’t you think your parents are disappointed in you? Fuck, I’d be disappointed if I had a kid like this. I hate you. I fucking hate you.”
Finally, he gets bored and wanders off, and you’re left alone.
You wake up in the morning, again.
You half hoped you wouldn’t.
And he’s there, and his razor is still in your bathroom, and his unwashed jeans are in your hamper, and his life is plugged into yours.
“But have you tried running?”
Depression is insidious.
It is a mood disorder characterized by: Loss of interest or pleasure in your activities; Weight loss or gain; Trouble getting to sleep or feeling sleepy during the day; Feelings restless and agitated, or else very sluggish and slowed down physically or mentally; Being tired and without energy; Feeling worthless or guilty; Trouble concentrating or making decisions; Thoughts of suicide.
It is a disorder that seemingly everyone has the cure to.
“Just run more!” “Eat healthier!” “Think positive!”
These are lies.
The average person with depression cannot garner the energy to engage in activities that might help them. That’s part of being depressed. As said on webcomic Hyperbole and a Half, “Trying to use willpower to overcome the apathetic sort of sadness that accompanies depression is like a person with no arms trying to punch themselves until their hands grow back. A fundamental component of the plan is missing and it isn’t going to work.”
If I could run more, if I could just “eat healthier” and be cured, I would gladly do so. But I can’t. I have depression.
I am not, however, depressed. Depression is not you. It lives inside of you, like a disgusting parasite, leeching off your energy and keeping you from doing and enjoying anything.
It’s a beast. A monstrosity.
Mine’s name is Sam. It’s empowering to give him a name because then I am reminded that he is separate from me — that I can defeat him without defeating myself.
With treatment — often a combination of therapy and medication — he can be forced out for good.
You are not depressed. You have depression. With time and support and lots of hard work, you can get rid of your own Sam.
I know it.
A version of this article originally appeared on Quora.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
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 reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.
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Getty Images photo via AntonioGuillem