Ch. 11. Self-Reflection

Man Feet Outdoors Person Footwear Reflection

Self-Reflection: To End A Cold, Damp Day

If ever there was something that I could call my own, something that I could say was my niche in life, this would be it. What I’m doing right now, this act is the one thing that is undeniably me. I have this gift so I’ve been told, but I think the writing is a skill and if there’s a gift – a talent that I was born with, then I think that gift or perhaps curse would be the ability to feel it all. The skill to express it all with words is one learned in time and practice. Sometimes for the sake of meandering and sometimes to save me from myself.

For the last six months I’ve been everywhere and yet nowhere. Inside of me I’ve been throughout the wilderness of my own consciousness. Traversing the bad places that I had never wanted to go back to. It’s almost humorous to think that I was naive enough to believe that I would not return here. Such is the nature of the beast. To be done away with, only to be reborn again. I should have heeded my own advice, remembered that it is not a battle with one win or loss, but a war forever waging.

These hours are days and the days like weeks, these weeks passing like months and soon the leaves will fall again, the breath of life will wisp away into the cold wind of autumn. Normally the darkness settles upon me in the dead of winter, but this year I’ve been feeling it since last winter. It has not gone away with spring and summer.

I often ponder if it is noticeable to other people. That question was answered a few months ago when someone pointed out to me that I have not been myself. That I was different. We are what we feel.

I look in the mirror into my own eyes and I wonder who is there staring back. Who am I? Is this me? If not, then where have I gone to? When am I coming back? People who don’t know what this feels like may wonder to know. It’s like feeling sick, like you have the flu or something. You’re tired, forever tired. You don’t want to do anything, go anywhere. Nothing interests you, nothing matters anymore. You don’t care about anything, sometimes not even other people. You become self-absorbed, like your drowning in yourself. You hear people, you see them, but their words pass through you and they look like characters in a film, a movie that you’re not a part of.

I could sit for hours staring at a wall. Just sitting there, blank faced. Not seeing what’s in front of me, but seeing everything that’s inside of me. Lost within my own self. Treading across the wasteland I feel within. Encountering bad things, memories and failed attempts, reliving things that I’d rather not. Completely and utterly disconnected from a social existence. My body is here, but I am not.

I’ve been doing what I have to do, but nothing more. Walking, talking, working, eating, sleeping and repeating. But I’m on autopilot. Most of the time I cannot remember what I did the day before. I am not here. I am not here.

I have grown quite good at pretending to be okay, faking my smiles and my laughs, it’s easy to do, especially when people want to believe that everything is right with the world. Sometimes optimism is it’s own blindfold. At times it seems as though I am trying to fool myself into thinking this is not really happening. Hoping that if I pretend long enough, that even I will believe it.

Some days are better than others. Some days I can walk outside and I can feel the sun. To feel is to know that I am alive. But these are just momentary glimpses of life, flashes of organic connections, a clear picture forever followed with more white noise. That snowy static of my disease.

These things used to scare me. I’ve been here enough that this place is familiar to me, these walls have imprisoned me before. They are stained with my bloody hand prints.

It is here, deep inside of me that the real understanding of depression can be made. What people see on the outside is a mere raindrop to the ocean that swallows me from within. Many times I have written about what this feels like, the things I perceive and the things that I am made numb to. No matter how many times I write about it, I’m always capable of writing more.

For at least the last six months I’ve spent most of my time here. Distant, withdrawn, depressed, unmotivated, emotional, aggressive, irritable, uninterested, without concern, sleepy when I should be awake and awake when I should be sleeping. All of these things and many more, make up the walls that keep me here. Like I said, I have brief grace periods, sometimes lasting days. Those feel like waking up from a nightmare, they make you wonder what the hell is happening and how much of it is real.

On the worst days I am my most silent. So much is happening inside me that I cannot exist outside myself. These days are marked with the worst kind of thoughts. Thoughts of dying. Thoughts of sleeping and never waking. Thoughts of ropes and chords, thoughts of pills. Thoughts that make me glad I don’t own pistols. No one wants to die, but some people don’t want to hurt anymore.

Hurt is a complex concept. You grow up thinking hurt is a physical feeling, that falling off your bike is the meaning of hurt. And then people hurt your feelings and you realize that hurt is more than the pain of flesh. So too is it a pain of mind.

It is no wonder to me why people used to consider mental illness to be a possession by other worldly beings. It can be such a bizarre state of being, so alien in nature to the self and so difficult to understand from someone else’s perspective.

I have not been doing much to stop it. Perhaps hoping the demon takes his hand off me, sets me free, or perhaps I just don’t care anymore and I’m letting it all happen without objection. I’ve thought about calling a doctor and going back on medication, but I’ve been down that road a few years back when I spent two and a half years trying seven medications and I’m still fighting this. Not to mention that the side effects can sometimes feel worse than the disease itself. I shutter at the thought that I cannot live without being drugged for the rest of my life. Who knows the long term health effects and a pill only treats the symptoms, not the cause. There is no cure.

There are other things I can do. A change in my lifestyle can make a major difference. What I choose to do or not to do can influence me heavily. Situations, places, people and ideas can have a positive or negative effect on me. Embracing or avoiding them can make a difference. Realizing and accepting that you have a problem is the first step, finding the willpower to do something about it is the next. After a decade of this internal conflict, one would think that I’ve learned a few things along the way.  I need the will to implement them.

Recommended Reading:

Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness

The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression


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