I look back over the years of my life and remember when it all started. I remember sitting on the floor listening to my mother tell me that my parents are getting a divorce. I remember middle school, and wonder if flirting with depression was a precursor to or the reason for it developing. I remember the first day that I took a blade to myself–a shaving razor I’d kept in my room for “missed spots” on my legs. I ran it across my hand–my knuckles, I believe–and it was over from there.
How do you write when your days are consumed by a malaise that you can’t conquer by yourself? How do you work through emotions–or lack thereof–that it took over a decade to conquer with medication, now that the medication has run out? How do you stare at the blank screen and be productive, knowing that you have hours before you and behind you, where there is nothing–no one–no interaction, no duties but housework and homework?
It’s a first-world problem, I know. I wouldn’t be complaining about my depression if I didn’t have food on my table. And while we have our financial woes, I’m not starving to death.
But even as I hear my ex’s voice in my head telling me that I didn’t know what real problems were (ostensibly because I’d never been to Bosnia and seen real suffering like he had), I know that there are others out there that understand how smothering depression can be. It’s like a weighted, all-encompassing, suffocating blanket that you have no control over. The edges are nailed down, and you aren’t strong enough–you’ve never been strong enough–to rip it open. You breathe the stale air, the reverberations of the thoughts and feelings you’ve never been able to rid yourself of tainting each inhalation. You pray for the tools to escape, knowing that you can’t fight your way out of this thing that moves with you, that moves around you. You wait, smothered in the heat of your own existence, exhausted from fighting, unable to find the energy to beat against the immovable object.
It’s almost impossible to turn on the lights in your darkness. To find that place within you that is the well of creativity past the feel of breath-stealing flannel shoving itself into your mouth, stealing your words, keeping you gasping. It’s almost impossible to remember what fresh air feels like; to know the touch of coolness against your skin and the knowledge that you aren’t alone in this and that someone else can reach out their hand and touch you.
It’s almost impossible to remember that no one else can see the blanket that steals your life away. That it’s all inside of you, as you twist and turn and writhe, screaming just to move the staleness, to create a breeze, to make some kind of change–even if that change is for the worse.
It’s the hardest thing in the world to remember that there are things in this world to help pry up the nails, even as you watch others tear you down because they can’t see the fight that you’re struggling with.
How do I sit down at my keyboard and churn out stories, prose, words and nonsense when some days, it’s all I can do to breathe?