Monday, July 28, 2008

The Expectations of Depression

So... depression. I used to think of depression, even when I was supposedly "suffering" from it, as a concept. A state of mind, albeit not a very happy one. I have gone through periods where I am exhausted all the time, can't seem to think my usual sunny-side thoughts, and at those times, I went to my doctor and she gave me a pill, and the pills worked, and before I knew it, I felt better. Eventually the feeling better became my normal way of being, and I quit taking the pills, and everything would be dandy again.

I see depression differently now. The last year has given it a name, a face, a flavor. I can almost smell it. I see it as an actual, a storybook monsterthing that lurks in the dark places of my sick and eroded brain. It's skin is tattered, greasy tears slide down it's sharp cheeks. It leers out at me, grinning with black, filed teeth, edged enough to puncture...things. Depression is the thing that almost ate me, that sat on my chest day after day last winter and happily explained away every slightly positive thought I was able to have.
It was the mommy dearest who murmured bedtime stories about how my children would be better off without me- that everyone in the whole fucking world would be, in fact, so why don't you just swallow all of those little pills, there, huh? There's some water, right there, to get the sticky ones down. Then this will all be over, you won't have to think about this anymore, and as we were originally discussing, your family will be so much happier, breathe easier without your cloudy presence fogging up every fucking thing...
Depression was the anti-coach, who carefully cataloged and then relived with me every bad decision, every broken promise, every abandoned dream. He would hold up a map from twenty years ago, titled "THINGS TO DO", and ask me to show him which ones he should cross off, now that it was, after all, twenty years later. Which of these could be erased now, now that I am well into "life", now that I can stop thinking of myself as a kid whose real life is going to begin at any moment...? C'mon, let's start listing those accomplishments! Oh, oh, how awkward, oh my, how embarrassing, there aren't any, oh I see...
Now that my kids are growing, growing, gone... now, again, explain what good and right and successful things you have done, and why the other ones lost importance? Innocently asked, pencil and eyebrow raised. Then, shaking his head, clicking his tongue in sorrow, he listed my failures, one by one, instead. He was writing a new map to follow for the near future, one that ended in a skull and crossbones and a cheerful, handwritten note, "Do not cross go. Do not collect two hundred dollars (or even two cents, you pathetic piece of shit.... your buck stops here, moron. Now die."

Depression means accepting that things don't always turn out the way you want them to, that being a white hat doesn't mean the sunset belongs to you. It means finding another reason than The Future, because so far, in my experience, The Future has proved to be an impossibility. It means letting your children go, allowing them to become adults, rather than keep them in your smothering embrace. Did I have these kids so they could give me a reason to live?
No, no I didn't.... I'm not sure why I did have them, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't for that. Although I might have used them for just that reason, since they were around anyway.

Most people would look at the place where I am and expect anticipation, optimism, a belief that things are finally going to start going right. I'm not such a sucker anymore. I have felt that way too many times, only to fall on my ass quite gracelessly when the hope was kicked out from under me. So I am just waiting right now, to see. What happens next.

I hope I am at the edge of the storm, not the eye of it.