When I was at the lowest spot in my depression I locked myself in my bedroom for three days and lied to everyone I knew. I called in sick to work. I told my mom I was seeing a doctor. I told my friends I was busy. I had successfully fooled everyone who loved me that I was making healthy changes and getting better. I wasn’t, but it was so much easier to hide and pretend that I was than to actually go outside and do something.
Depression is weird. I feel like a lot of people think depression means being sad and crying all the time but it’s the exact opposite. Depression, for me at least, was the complete and utter lack of emotion. I was so apathetic to everything that I couldn’t care if I wanted to. Sometimes I would work myself up to tears by thinking about how fucking miserable and pathetic I was, but almost as quickly as they came I was back to “what’s the point?”
Same with happiness. I could watch the cutest cat video on the whole internet and I would smile and laugh and the alarm in my brain would start screaming KITTEN ALERT EVERYBODY FREAK OUT
but as soon as it was over the power would go out and the little workers inside my head would take a vacation to the brain of someone who could sustain an emotion for longer than the average youtube video.
So there I am, laying in bed, my entire body recoiling in horror at the pitiful excuse of the mind that it’s been permanently tethered to. I start to wonder if things will ever change or if I’ll just be like this forever. I become vaguely suicidal. I don’t really want to end my life, but I wouldn’t be opposed to the idea of me suddenly ceasing to exist. So I hide in bed all day, every day, for as long as I can manage.
I wait for something. Anything. A satellite to fall through my roof and crush me in my sleep. An earthquake to part my street from the avenue that crosses it and swallow my house to the middle of Earth’s giant rumbly belly. A friend to kick down my door and drag me to the hospital or mental institution or maybe a secret underground lab where the government keeps people who don’t have feelings anymore.
Fortunately, none of that happens.
My friends eventually catch on to my shenanigans and despite their best efforts, are useless. They would try to get me out of the house almost daily but I would make up some bullshit excuse to get out of it.
Eventually, they stop trying to help me, and even though they weren’t successful before, their lack of empathy becomes my new favorite excuse.
It wasn’t their fault, of course. It was mine. They had done everything they could and I was not ready or able or willing to cooperate. Did I understand that at the time? No fucking way. Why I would take responsibility for my problems when I could just blame them on someone else?
In the early stages of my depression I would sometimes compare my affliction to The World’s Worst Roller Coaster!™
I knew that eventually I would get to the top, the ride being so emotionally exhausting that I would simply be ‘okay’ enough to not throw myself over the railing and ruin some random passerby’s day. I would instead begin the long and weary trek down the 312 steps towards sanity.
But I never reached the top.
In fact, my ascent to the peak of the coaster was so slow that renovations had already begun and construction on the rest of the track had started while I was still onboard. Nobody cared to notify me or maybe slam the big red button that says “HEY THERE’S SOME ASSHOLE STILL ON THE RIDE!”
As my depression continued, The World’s Worst Roller Coaster!™ slowly began to morph into an episode of The World’s Deadliest Train Crashes!®.
My train car began to pick up speed along the newly appointed rails. I passed through tunnels and forests and cold mountain ranges but no cities or towns or warm inviting parties filled with people I wanted to see or be around. My train was on a journey to God knows where, but it was going too fast for me to hop off or for anyone to hop on and help me.
I tried to make the best of my train ride by keeping myself busy (in my own solitary one-person train car, of course) but it only made me more lonely and depressed. No matter how many video games, books, movies, or internet memes I devoured I still couldn’t feel like I was doing anything right.
Eventually I realized my train wasn’t taking me anywhere good.
I knew I still had plenty of time before I needed to start worrying, but it was hard for me to accept the fact that the light at the end of my tunnel was actually a fallen-apart rickety wooden bridge over a 200 foot drop into freezing polar bear infested waters. I figured I would just hold on as tight as I could and pray I would survive the fiery plunge off the bridge and that maybe, just maybe, someone would pull my shivering body out of the ice-water.
You see, I had no desire to change anything. I was ready to ride my stupid train right to my death. I just didn’t care enough to save myself.
While riding my train, I spoke to a friend. She told me that I was running out of track and that she was afraid. She began to cry and told me that she wanted nothing more than for me to get off the train. She wanted me to fix my stupid brain and convince the little workers to ditch their vacation plans and come back home. She wanted me to watch cat videos that would make me laugh so hard my eyes would roll back into my head and my spine would constrict into the letter R. She wanted me to get back to blogging the way I had in the past and use it to build a name, and possibly a career, for myself. She wanted me to find love in someone who loved me back, rather than the useless people I had spent the last year chasing to no avail. She wanted the best for me. She wanted me to be good. She offered to do anything she could to make me that way.
This person had so much love for me that she was willing to do anything to help me.
I realized I wasn’t ready to let go.
I began to cry. I began to cry in a way that I hadn’t cried in months. I felt genuine emotion and I wanted to keep feeling it. I used to hate crying, but after weeks and months of indifference and pure concentrated lethargy, the tears felt like the best thing ever. Each salty glob was a sigh of relief. All the emotions I had repressed were leaking down my face and I didn’t know if I should smile or laugh or sob loudly. So I did all three.
I stood up in my train car and leaned over the side. I could see the bridge out at the end and I knew it was now or never. I closed my eyes and jumped feet first.
I did it! I got off the train! I didn’t explode into tiny little pieces and get devoured by polar bears! I ran back to my friend and I thanked her for saving me.
“I didn’t do anything, Rhyse. You made the decision. You got off the train.”
I was aware that I wasn’t right the whole time, but I was perfectly content to just ride it out, even though I knew it wasn’t going to end well. I had spent so long not feeling anything that I believed the first active choice I had made was all due to someone else. But it was me all along. I had made the first step to getting better.
Now I have a long walk back to civilization. My path won’t be easy. It will be a slow and arduous journey peppered with therapists, medication, and return-to-work forms, but I am ready to try, and that’s already an enormous development from the way I’ve been.
I know it’s probably weird to be reading this on my blog, especially considering this is about as much an actual ‘blog’ as cheese slices are actual cheese, but I felt it was extremely important to share my story with people who might be going through the same thing.
I am not cured of my depression and I won’t pretend that I’m perfectly okay now, but I am ready to start getting better. Knowing you’re not alone is huge. Depression weakens people by isolating them from the ones they love. Know this, if you are feeling like I felt, you are not alone. Reach out to the people who surround you, you never know who will be there to catch you.
I’ve never had something convey what depression is like more clearly than this