The Mighty Logo

How I Struggle With My 'Potential' With Major Depressive Disorder

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

I wish I could feel any other way than this — stuck in a stupor, staring into the distance, not even pondering or processing too much at all. I keep thinking, “Oh, I could do this today, then maybe after I could do that…” but I always seem to find a way to squirm out into a crack in the walls and hide in the darkness. I hate myself for not feeling motivated enough, or feeling proactive enough to get on with things by myself. I feel so guilty when I know the people around me want to help. Every day, they try to push me into doing something productive with my time, as I do with myself. They fail to get through my stubborn barriers. Most days, I manage to do the washing up and laundry and cook dinner my partner and I, but so many people now say I have this “potential” to be doing other things with my time.

I crunch my way over the husks of insects beneath me — a tunnel in the corner of the cave persuades me. I arch over and bring myself to my knees; their skeletons scratch and scrape my knees. I peer inside the tunnel — an endless burrow of darkness.

I come home from work, walk my dog, get back home and then slump down in the sofa with her for three hours. Then it’s time to do the daily chores — the tidying up, the cooking etc. It only takes two hours max to do these chores, and I still have all that extra time I use slumping. I feel deep down that I know I could be using it all in a better way. Sometimes, I pick up a pen and sketch pad and stare at it, flick through social media for inspiration, then get shot down by the amazing work and the copious amounts of talent out there, already making a lifestyle out of their passion. I think to myself, “It’s just too late for me, there’s no point trying because everyone else is already doing it and are better than me.”

The tunnel’s textures bobble and spike; the pebbles and rocks dictate my movement. The palms of my hands sting and tingle; I feel each pulse of blood slur and circulate. My knees distress more with every pull and slide as I crawl deeper. The smooth, cyst-like rocks pummel my bones and bruise my blood. The cuts on my hands become infected by the mud and slime. My fingertips are now numb. Sheets of illuminated, gelatinous tentacles hang from the tiny tunnel walls; they look like some sort of imitation feathered textile, intricately designed, but they irritate my skin like jellyfish legs. I vibrate in pain — when will this tunnel end?

For me to immediately put myself down and reject myself of any progress, let alone any productivity, is a lifelong habit I am only now beginning to join the dots with. I know my thoughts are counter productive — extremely negative and negligent toward myself — but I can’t seem to muster any strength on a daily basis to even reassure myself: “Even if everyone else is doing it, the fact is you enjoy doing it — why should any of that stop you from enjoying your passion and talents as a hobby?”

And the truth is; because I don’t deserve to. I don’t deserve to immerse myself fully into things that will make me happy. I am not allowed to be mindful of the way the paint feels and glides along the canvas, trailing a brilliant-colored and textured path. I can’t allow myself to take in the scents of the acrylic paints and fresh canvas — the chemical vapors combining with the alchemy in my brain. I know how satisfying it feels to watch a piece of work unfurl before me, but for the most part, I torture myself; I self-criticize so heavily that I prevent myself from continuing. Then the cycle begins again, the vision of a comfortable sofa and a dog on my lap pursues and takes over me.

Barnacles blister the walls, their sharp and jagged growths scrape softly against my skin; a small tearing sound. The slime froths and bubbles out the cracks of my wounds; I am changing. A blob of black goop blots onto the tunnel surface. Its wretched stench clings to my nostrils. Its putrid smell is maddening, like rotting fish.

There’s a man who stands on my shoulder — a tall broad man engulfed in a dark, oversized waxed jacket. He wears a hat with a large and round brim that covers his face. His entirety is covered in algae and seaweed and drips profusely — like he emerged straight out of the ocean. In an outstretched hand, he grasps a dimly lit lantern. His dark face grins with malevolence: “Life’s a waste of time, fool. Look in the other direction — there’s nothing here for you.” And the worst part is that of course, I listen. I restrict and deprive. I dispossess and an overwhelming urgency to disappear swamps my brain. I convince myself that everyone would be better off if I were gone. Their lives would be so much simple — they would no longer have to stress or worry about anything but themselves and their own lives. They can live happily now.

I begin to desperately pull myself along, deeper still into the endless tunnel. The glowing fungus is the only light vaguely illuminating any progress. I feel my body exude some sort of heat. A black fog made of tiny dark particles perspires from my back. With every heave forward, the black sludge flops out of the ends of my fingers and strings against the rocks. It’s hard to breathe; the smog thickens the air. I graze against another feathery feeler. The dark bubbling slime engulfs the tentacle; it boils and fizzes and disintegrates in seconds. My lungs feel clogged — an imminent pressure bubbling intensely. My breathing is minimal. I gasp my breaths periodically. The tunnel is now filling with the black tar spilling from my wounded hands. I frantically heave my body forward. It’s hard to tell where things begin and end. I slip and fall…

I understand that people do not want me to disappear — that some of them will try to help no matter what. But to what purpose? I only inflict pain and hopelessness. Surely the easier option for them would be to let me go? However, I am learning to accept that these people love me, and that is why they want to help. They want to help me be “me” again — to not let the “Dark Man” consume me. They know who I am deep down, what “potential” I have and want me to chase my passions. I adore these people, and in moments of clarity, they are the ones who provide me the proverbial strength that will help me get through the toughest of times.

Follow this journey on the author’s blog.

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 text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Favor_of_God

Originally published: August 12, 2017
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home