No, I’m Really Not

It’s been bad recently.

This is something like . . . should we call it day nineteen? Two, maybe three weeks into severe depression.

I’m cornered. Trying to get myself out of depression, I hype up on energy drinks and start having panic episodes that last three to ten hours. Trying to get myself out of anxiety, I avoid work or I drink, triggering depression. In both states I overeat, and feel ashamed for it. My psycho-semantic worries (oh no, is my heart rate going up? am I freaking out? Well, if I wasn’t before!) surround me like jail-keepers.

It all roots back to not knowing what I’m doing any of this for. Yes, I’m fighting, I’m struggling, and I’m even capable – but why? So I can live a standard life in the status quo of this society?

Does this – can this – all be simplified to a desire to tell stories? It’s the one thing where my passion and desire haven’t disappeared completely. I can still see a peace in telling stories, a peace that’s been robbed in everything else. But is it enough? It doesn’t feel like it some days.

Day nineteen. My professional and school-oriented work have stacked up and now cage me in. My fitness has gone out the window. My apartment is a mess. My friends have come and spent time with me here recently, it’s been a boon, but I still feel this desperate, hollow loneliness. I want to be touched, loved, held; I want to get lost in an obsession as high and persistent as a daily SSRI.

“Do you think about hurting yourself?” asks the doctor. Constantly, I think. But instead I say, “Self-mutilation is part of my history, and it’s certainly associated with depression. But no, I’m not afraid I’ll hurt myself in any substantial way. I’m certainly not concerned that I’ll kill myself.”

Every time the train comes, I envision myself toppling in front of it. The free-fall sensation that turns to a sudden infinity of noise, dissolving into embracing silence. We call this suicidal ideation. “Suicidal ideation,” I tell the doctor, “has been a part of my lifestyle at least since high school. I’m not worried that I’ll act on any of it. I use it as a way to . . . calm myself down. Knowing I always have that escape hatch, it makes things seem smaller somehow.”

If I were my clients, I would have already dismissed me. That’s not to say I’ve completely abandoned things. But I’m behind. I’m trying to communicate, I’m trying to catch up, but I’m not the writer I should be. It’s just a few hours of work left to catch up, but it still feels like an insurmountable barrier.

I have dreams where I’m trying to defend myself against attackers, and I go to punch them, but as I swing my arm the muscle goes limp and I can’t hit them with any force at all. That’s what this struggle feels like. Every day.

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