Depression Revisited

I think I’m losing my voice.

When I was 19, I sat for a week and wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote. Words flowed onto pages in a persistent rhythm I’ve never found since. My characters lived and laughed and cried and died as black type flitted across the white screen.

For the last 5 years, writing has been a struggle. I see the characters in my mind. I feel their stories. I see the way they interact . . . and I can’t write it down. I get in front of a computer or pose a pen above a paper and their voices flee. My voice flees.

These last six months have been worse. I can write maybe 3 or 4 paragraphs at a time before I’ve exhausted everything that built up over the span of a week. Today, I slept for 14 hours, wrote 4 paragraphs, and then fell asleep for another 6 hours. Maybe “sleep” isn’t the right word. I laid in bed with my eyes closed, imagining what it might be like to be myself again.

Reading about depression is one thing. Articles reduce depression to statistics. People talk about it as though it is past tense, citing anti-depressants and mood stabilizers as their answers.

Handling, living with, working with, being in love with someone who is depressed is very different. You feel each day, each silent minute pass as that person falls within him or herself. He or she becomes harder and harder to connect with. You are being closed out and it’s not fair because you have your own problems to worry about; you shouldn’t need to worry about theirs.

I did that with my lost friend. I worried for three years, tried to draw him out as he faded away. I gave up time and again. When he moved away, I saw that the people at his new school, in his new life, reached him in a way that I couldn’t. He smiled again, laughed again. He was the person I fell in love with, just not when he was with me.

For the last six months, thinking of him has hurt. I lost the will to travel–he’s the best travelling companion I’ve ever had, and I can’t replace that. I lost the will to see friends or leave the house or wake up in the morning (luckily, my job requires I wake up a night–crisis averted, I suppose).

For the last six months, my mom and my coworkers have watched me go from being totally okay to completely dissolved in a matter of minutes. At dinner on Sunday, a friend innocently asked me about him. Two hours later, I sat in my room and sobbed. I texted my mentor and asked her to email me a project so that I could have something to distract me. That’s how I deal with things right now.

I have no energy left, no passion. All of things he never approved of that made up my core being are locked away somewhere. I can’t find the key.

Now I’m not the one watching over him. Instead, there are people watching over me, concerned about me, frustrated that I have now fallen into their charge when they have so many other things that they need to be worried about as well. They needn’t worry. There’s nothing left in me to watch over, even the story that has driven my entire being since age 12. I feel like I don’t even exist anymore.

This isn’t past tense. It isn’t crazy. I’m not the only person who feels this way. It’s a bit different to break down the statistic and realize there is a real person for whom this is the reality, day in and day out. And if you’ve never been depressed–in the very real, long-term, chronic sort-of-way–or loved someone who has, there is someone just like you watching a shell just like me and wondering how to handle it. I’ve been on both sides. They hurt about the same.

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