That day where the night before, as you sat drinking your tequila and beer because that’s the only mixer you had, you played a bootleg copy of Men in Black III because you needed to laugh. You needed to laugh because it’s been days since you last did. It takes more muscles to frown but every time you try to smile, you just end up looking like a stroke victim because you give up halfway. It’s not that there isn’t anything worth smiling about. You peeled that orange without getting citrus juice all over your face like a child. Go you. You stayed at work later to get the final details on that project done and then came home and ran two miles because you are not a quitter. Your pets are always there for you so you take them on a special outing because Cymbalta has guilt tripped you enough to know that depression affects everyone [insert super sad puppy face and fade out transition.]
But then your energy starts to run low. You can’t use it to barricade yourself behind its tall façade of motivation. Now it’s in your head how unhappy you are. The despair starts circling your mind like vultures getting ready to feast. Except these thoughts; this…thing, that’s beginning to wrap around you, has been patiently waiting all day to empty what’s left of your already hollow soul.
It starts slowly, seeping out like the yolk from a sliver of crack on an egg.
Inanimate objects seem strange. Even if they have been sitting on the corner of that table since last week. Suddenly, you can’t stop staring at them. Pleading with them to be interesting and take your mind off this lack of enthusiasm that is chained to your ankles. You drag along, and I mean drag like a fat kid through quicksand, because it’s what you’re “supposed to do.” Because if you just keep your head up, eventually you’ll start to swim and everything will flow.
Well sometimes you just don’t.
Sometimes, you sink into that dark place that only you know how to find and you lock yourself in it so tightly it’s just a little too easy to forget why you ever left. Misery can be cozy. It’s tricky like that. Snakes do it, too. They’ll lie next to you so softly and warm you’ll convince yourself they are cuddling. But really they’re sizing you up. Checking to make sure you’ll fit in their belly when they decide to finally unhinge their jaw and devour you like you’ve been devouring the joy in the air around you for the past few days.
Realizing this doesn’t mean you’re accepting it.
Now that the numbness has taken over, you’re actually in the best place to get shit done. Why do you think acceptance is the first step for people with addictions? You’re addicted to your trials because it’s the only thing that feels right anymore. But you’re not a quitter remember. So get your sad butt in the shower. No one likes a smelly bum. Get up, put on some inspirational music, even if you have to Google inspirational music and you just end up listening to a whole bunch of Gloria Estefan and Katrina and the Waves. Do it because it’s better than listening to your poetically somber thoughts. It’s better than wallowing in what you can’t change–your attitude. People who say you can are morons and you should tell them to die in a fire. When you’re depressed, it’s not just a matter of getting “cheered up.” So you change what you can because doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results makes you a lunatic.
I started reading this really awful self help book on how to be a better leader. You know those books where the author goes on and on about all this great wisdom he’s about to graciously allow you to decipher but he babbles so much about it that by the time you would have gotten to the chapter where he says the good stuff, you’ve already switched over to eating cold pepperoni and watching the WNBA (don’t judge, I’m depressed, misery loves company remember.)
One thing I did take from it was the idea that we’re always practicing. Before you do anything, think about what your intentions are and if your actions effectively pursue those intentions or if you’re just angry at the stupid people on the internet. We’re always practicing something. Even if it’s a mind set. So practice being happy. Practice getting up and doing things as if your inner self wasn’t thrashing itself against those walls you put up so craftily to keep the feelings from vomiting out. And you don’t have to be happy about practicing being happy. When golfers practice, they don’t make every shot a hole-in-one. That’s not what makes practice worth it. You have to give it your all each day. That’s what counts. And if your all is making it in your car just long enough to chase the sunset because you have to look at something unbearably beautiful to justify the torrent of tears pounding down your cheeks from all of the ugliness inside, then you do it and you be damn proud of yourself.
Don’t think of it as “going through the motions.” You know that’s not what it is. If it were that easy you would have thrown a fucking party about it already. Lately, I haven’t even cared to turn on the radio. I used to sing when there wasn’t music playing because I couldn’t stand the melodic void. Now the silence taunts me. It’s an anxiety unlike any other. I want to listen to music so it can destroy what ails me. But what if I play my favorite songs and feel nothing? What if this thing that has penetrated my perception rips through and tears out even the things I love the most?
I refuse to throw my passion of music to the lions like a cheap piece of meat. But then I remember it’s about the practice. Even if I just play one song. Just pick one song. (Choose carefully you fools.) People in our condition are standing at the edge of a grand canyon and even the most delicate indie band lyrics can cast you hurling over the cliff. This has been my obsession song lately.
Find the place that doesn’t hurt so much and hold on to it. Try to find more like that.
For example, the good people at Spec’s liquor know how to bring a smile to my face. I also just bought a melon. I’m 23 years old and I have never bought a melon. But today, in an act of defiance toward this inhuman, cancerous growth of despair I drove to the grocery store (it’s next to the liquor store so I was already there, opportunities should be seized) and stared at more inanimate objects. That’s when I saw the melon. Nothing like bringing something home you can stick a knife in! (kidding. kind of.)
In all seriousness, the only reason I haven’t died of dehydration from constant crying is my dog, my career, Spec’s, positive practicing and this blog. Human interaction matters, like it or not. I don’t write this hoping noone will read it.
If you’re going through something similar, let me know or don’t. Just keep trying to make it better. I avoid cliches like the plague but sometimes they just apply. Life is a terrible thing to waste. It can take just as much energy to throw it away as it does to do something great. So how about we do that instead. If not for yourself for others. There’s always some glory in that.