I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but I’ve struggled with chronic depression my whole life. Even at the happiest times of my life, I wrestle with this deadly beast and struggle not even to be happy, but just to maintain equilibrium. I think I realized that even when I was a little girl, something was not right; no little girl should succumb to such sadness for no externally propelled reasons. I was the little girl who thought I’d be better off dead and would cry hysterically at the end of The Secret of NIMH (although on second thought, who wouldn’t?) So, in addition to alcoholism that will never go away, I also have a black cloud perpetually over my head. Greeeeaaaaat. I used to get depressed just thinking about it, believing myself to be such a downer (hello, Eeyore). Alcohol used to make all this go away, and I could be fun, spontaneous and carefree. Of course, that crumbled surprisingly rapidly, and within three years, alcohol got the best of me and it didn’t work anymore. I even tried mixing antidepressants with my booze, but that’s a fun story for another time.
I have been on antidepressants since I was seventeen, except for the first few years of living on my own with no health insurance, and they definitely help suppress the overwhelming grief, but they don’t banish it completely. I still have manic episodes of moodiness, especially when I allow myself to Go There. There is that place where I let the weight of reality crush me, and there is no way to describe it but bleak despair. Even that pithy description doesn’t do justice to how I feel when I Go There. In spite of all my dreaming and romanticism, I am a realist and a tough critic at heart, which is what leads me There. I can call a spade a spade, and reality for me is a very dark, unforgiving place. Even though things are going pretty well for me right now, better than they’ve been in years, I went There last night. In this case, There was a life list I’d made years ago of all the places I’d hoped to go in my twenties. I stumbled on this list as I cleaned up my old computer folders, and it provoked such deep grief within me I wept with everything I had. It’s an ambitious list, even for a fevered travel seeker like myself, but what got me down was that I had only been to one of those places, and the odds of scratching any of those places off my list are below minimal. I felt like such a dismal failure. The crushing financial burden the size of a large down payment on a house which I’ve operated under for the past few years (another fun story involving the fabulous U.S. healthcare system) virtually guarantees that I will exit my twenties exactly as I feared; stuck here. Being stuck here, in this city I’ve always despised is my greatest nightmare, and it appears I’ve spent my twenties living out my greatest nightmare.
I know I’m not alone, and I know that millions of people struggle with chronic depression, but that’s the evil influence of the disorder – I feel so alone, so deep within myself that no one else may join me there. My mother used to ask me “what’s wrong?” and the few counselors I’ve seen have encouraged me to journal about my feelings. Not to piss on either of these tactics of handling depression, but it isn’t possible to accurately capture the darkness that envelopes me, and when I try, I just sink deeper because I’m dwelling on it. All of the adjectives used to describe the condition simply fall short.
I know I’m not alone. If you’re like me, and like others, reach out. Try to find others like us. Not feeling alone is a step in the right direction.