I think I’m depressed. That probably sounds a little odd, but none of the fireworks that regularly accompany my depression are present for whatever the hell is going on this time, so I don’t know.
I should, though. Depression is far from a new experience for me; in fact, it has been my particular back monkey for as long as I can remember. While the worst of it struck frequently between the ages of 15 and 40, I clearly remember bouts of melancholy as early as eight or so. They had to be obvious to those around me, but there was no counseling or psych meds, the only diagnosis a string of pejoratives. I was a pansy, a sissy, a mama’s boy, weird, too sensitive, artistic, melodramatic. Born 20 years later I would’ve been labeled an emo kid, 20 years earlier I would’ve been labeled too weak to call myself a man.
Those depressions felt cataclysmic, literally like my world was crumbling. I was a failure, and I would always be a failure. I didn’t have goals, I had unrealistic fantasies. I had no friends. I was a fake, phony, fraud. Even my own family hated me. My entire life was a mistake, its only redeeming quality my ability to pull the switch on it whenever I chose. Depression then was a profound sadness that penetrated to the marrow in my bones.
I haven’t experienced that kind of depression for many years. Sure I experience bouts of sadness, but they are proportional to the events that trigger them. If you aren’t sad when bad things happen, you might be as batshit loony as the eight year-old who feels like his world is crumbling. Overall my life is a decent one, no major complaints. My car starts when I turn the key, the beer is cold, and I’ve outlived Elvis (in part because I don’t combine the cold beer with the car keys). I have no addictions or chronic maladies beyond a few aches and pains. That bone weary monkey hasn’t weighed me down for a long time.
Which is what leads me to the ambiguous conclusion that I think I’m depressed. My mental state at the moment is a bit like feeling a few raindrops on an otherwise sunny day. This can’t be right. All signs point to sunny day.
But the raindrops are accumulating. I can’t write–can’t make the magic trick work. It’s not even that I can’t so much as the exercise feels completely foreign to me, like some sort of aphasia preventing me from recognizing my own hands. I sit down to write, and it’s as if I’ve never done so before. How does this work? Where does one begin? Why even bother?
The latter represents the next raindrop. Nothing says depression like the “why bother” impulse. I spent many hours last week considering whether to shut this down–Why It Mattters, writing in general, all of it. None of this is going anywhere. I’ve stopped writing for hire, and I’ve stopped submitting to literary magazines. Who cares? The world is overwhelmed already with narcissists begging for attention. I’m just screaming into the hurricane, adding to the noise.
Food has lost its flavor. I bury my favorite dishes beneath mounds of black pepper so that I can taste something, anything. The first few times I blamed the cook, but eventually I recognized the pattern.
I’m tired, so tired. A couple of nights last week found me in bed by 8:30 or so. I wake up throughout the night, always restless.
I can’t concentrate, which likely contributes to my difficulty writing. I’ll read the same page two or three times and still not know what I’ve read.
I’m quick to anger and I’ve withdrawn from friends. In 2018 that means a reduced social media presence, at least for me. None of those people even like you, screeches the monkey. The numbers back him up: There’s very little engagement with my posts anymore. It’s all just me shouting into a hurricane.
So the raindrops gather, but what makes them feel so different this time around is that they are not accompanied by sadness, and to many of us sadness equates to depression. Never mind sadness: I don’t really feel much of anything beyond flashes of anger. I’m just sort of here, which is another raindrop.
So many of depression’s most pernicious symptoms are present: social withdrawal, disrupted sleep, self doubt, muted senses. But I feel no despair, no sadness as I’ve always understood sadness. My world doesn’t feel like it’s crumbling, nor do I wish to escape it. These are sunny days, yet I feel a few drops of rain. That’s all.
I just wish that I could sleep, or write, or taste my food. Or feel like any of it matters.