I am officially 30 years old and like so many of my birthdays, I spent it a depressed anxious wreck. What can I say that I have not said so many times? I did not plan to live this long. In school, they often asked what I wanted to be when I got older. I said a Writer or a Teacher. In truth, I wanted to be dead. Dramatic perhaps, but if Depression makes you anything, it’s dramatic.
So how did I handle the crushing realization of my continued existence this year? I crawled up into a ball on my bedroom floor and sobbed like a child and perhaps because I was feeling nostalgic for high school I took a pairing knife to my forearm. I cut into myself, quickly at first but found my skin much tougher then I remember. Sawing back and forth with the knife I could barely make a mark deeper than a bad cat scratch.
That was it….that was my grand gesture of defiance to living. Nearly a ten years since I last did anything like that broken. But some childish part of me felt I needed to do something. It was unhealthy and stupid, but I suppose it was a better act than a handful of pills or walking into traffic that my young self-promised would happen by now. Still, my young self could not foresee the support I would receive from the friends and family I have now. It’s snowing outside, and it is so very beautiful.
If I were to write the story of my life it would lack structure. My life is a series of disconnected memories. I suppose this is true for many people. They are faded and lacking many details. They are like dreams and am often afraid I am mixing the two. I suppose it’s because there is a lot I wanted to forget, and a lot of living I never had. Am told I was the outgoing, outspoken child when I was very little. I guess I must have been competing for attention between my older brother and younger sister. I do have one particular cringe-worthy memory of that time. I put on a jacket, hat, and sunglasses to pretend I was a different person. It’s embarrassing to think about, but that embarrassment might be the only reason I remember it.
Much of my childhood only existed between two things. School, and the time I spent in my room. I did not have friends, not really. The only friends I may have had I convinced myself were only interested in my brother. I was just something that followed him around. I was a B student. Never doing more effort than was necessary. I slept on the bus to school, I did my homework before the start of class, I hid near other geeky kids or kids that know my brother. The worst was when I had to eat lunch alone. I know I did these things, but asking me to pick a single moment out of any of them would be difficult.
The most dreamlike of all my memories, however, were the times I was losing my mind. The times I had panic attacks or the times I was completely lost in despair. I’ve been on the ground, begging for anyone to help me, but unable to call out or even move. I have walked down the streets at 2am with tears endlessly falling down my face. It doesn’t feel real, nor did it then. It was like watching someone else, It would have been so easy to walk in front of a car, or step onto the train tracks. I know I know I once swallowed a fist full of pills then Immediately throw them up. I can’t tell you when this happened, but I know it did.
Perhaps I should leave it alone, perhaps they are better off feeling like dreams. But sometimes I remember something I completely forgot and surprise myself. Recently I remembered I was in some kind of choirs in middle school. We went to six flags, but this is the only thing I remember about it. Did I like it? Did I hate it? I don’t know.
I procrastinate, things I enjoy, things I want to avoid, everything. Every decision I make I must question, painfully, as hour by hour goes by. Then I sit unfulfilled at my lack of action. Read a book, play a video game, even writing this very sentence is a long dragged out process. It’s painful. I grow up avoiding things that may hurt me, it has become second nature in almost all my actions.
This is anxiety of course. I tell myself to just take that first step, and it will be easier. It is easier, but it is fucking painful it is to get there. It is exhausting. I feel like my heart has broken after just a few hours of spending time with friends or family. “It is better to avoid it altogether” that little voice in my mind says. I would try to silence it with sleep but then I fall prey to a cycle of dreams I can’t see to awake from. I would spend the rest of my life in those dreams if I let myself. They are not happy dreams, they are painful and sad, but they have a sweet taste to them, a control over reality you can’t find in the waking world. Still, I wake up day after day.
Am not sure if I can describe the oddity of sudden depression to you. Sometimes with none, or very little provocation I can simply feel depressed. I feel that old weight on me, the tears welling up in my eyes. How do you fight that? How do you prevent it? How am I supposed to function when I can simply fall down at any given time.
My anxiety has not been well either. Phone calls freak me out. If I have a problem with my medication I can’t bring myself to make a call. Am pretty sure my wisdom tooth is going to rot out before I will make a dentist appointment. I rather be in pain then make that call. The money needed does nothing to help my anxiety. Sometimes I feel am just dragging myself along.
If you want to know what my anxiety is to me, it is being unable to make a new psychologists appointment after my old one left. Letting my pills run out rather than make a phone call. It’s avoiding a therapist for reasons I’m not even sure. It is a pain in my gut every time the phone rings. It’s finding excuses to push people away. Being unable to sleep in fear of anything that breaks my routine, anything new. It’s having high blood pressure because my heart races every time someone gets close enough to take it.
My depression is a call to the void. It is staring at train tracks and wondering what if. I hide in a hole building a wall of trash around me like a castle wall. I think of the past and never the future. I feel a call that leads me deeper into the dark. I find sad story’s and music and weep to myself. But sometimes I find someone who is worse off than me. I use what experience I have and try to help them, not for unselfish reasons but because it makes me feel better as well.
Hiding and pushing everyone away would be so easy. Even doing things I enjoy bring on painful feelings. I’ve done it before, I dropped out of school, grow fat and suicidal. I wrote on my skin with a knife. As painful as it all it, it is easy. I slip down a similar hole all the time. But I still slowly crawl out.
Have you ever laid flat against the ground and feel as if gravity was holding you down? Sometimes I forget how much I distract myself from myself. Just a few moments alone with my thoughts is enough to send warm tears down the sides of my head. I feel somber. My mind is so very clear, but the tears don’t stop.
I recently had to visit a new psychiatrist. My old one had moved away leaving me to deal with a new one. Sitting in a chair answering questions that I had long forgotten the answer too. I can’t remember old doctors names or the years when I started a certain medicine. Suddenly being asked the days date, and counting backward from 100 by 7 was embarrassing. It seemed my last doctor added agoraphobia to my chart without telling me. The lack of control over the situation made me feel so small.
What hurt more than any of my anxiety, however, was my father. Before I left for the appointment I happened to talk to him and told him where I was going. His response was surprising that I still seek help for my mental Illness. I have been seeing a psychologist almost longer in my life then I have not. Nearly more than half my life. How could he possibly not know? The nights I spent crying myself to sleep, the times I hurt myself, the very close fact that I was going to kill myself. How blind has he been to the pain in my life? When I was young I suffered alone. As I grow up I decided never again, for my sake I would be open and honest about it. It hurts to know that someone close did not hear me.
An old story that I have told many times now. I stay up late, it is my birthday, and am lost in my head. I’ve said this before, but I think it is important to say, again and again, I did not expect to live this long. I am almost thirty, I truely believed without a doubt in my mind that I would be dead by now. In that respect, every moment I still exist exceeds my childhood expectations for me.
I grow older, but in many ways, I am still a child. I suppose I am not unique in this. We are all still learning, and growing and changing as people. The change is so much more subtle than I thought as a child. Depressed, happy, thoughtful it is all still me. As a teenager, you strive to be unique and even I often wondered who I would be without my depression. While my depression may never go away completely, I have learned to manage it better and better. I understand now that am still me, no matter how I change.