Warning: This post contains angst. If you want to read something better, witty, geeky, creative and otherwise far less personal, any of my other posts will do. Reader’s discretion is advised.
Do not say I didn’t warn you.
In 2005, I started writing in this notebook. This was long before I began writing my Mythic Bios notebooks and I was in a very different, uncertain, and unpleasant place in my life. In this particular notebook were a series of fragments, thoughts, aphorisms, and a whole lot of bitterness, anger, and bile.
I called that notebook my Dorian Grey: because that was where I placed most–if not all–of the ugly parts of myself at that time. And it wasn’t enough.
It was never enough.
After a while, I stopped writing in it. I just didn’t want to see it anymore and, eventually, after much bitching and angst I moved past it and turned those fragments into more and more unified stories in my Mythic Bios.
I wanted to forget that first notebook so much that I eventually did. I thought I buried it somewhere else, though later as it turned out it had been in my room at my parents’ house–on my closet shelf–the entire time. I vowed, after a time, to never get into the position where I would write a notebook like that. I promised myself never to create another Dorian Grey again.
That is one of the main reasons I’ve tried not to talk about my personal life on my Writer’s Blog. Even oblique mentions of it seem to verge on breaking my own personal code. But I also realize this might be helpful. It might even show others that, in the immortal words of the Face of Boe, “You are not alone.” So here it is.
I am depressed.
This doesn’t come off as too much of a surprise, I would imagine. I have alluded to it. In fact, in a really dark mood, I once wrote this entire even longer post on what my depression actually entails. But I’ve decided to do something else instead. I’m going to describe what it has been like in a Choose Your Own Adventure style of “You,” instead of “I.” But you don’t get to make decisions: seeing as this isn’t a Twine game. Also, I am going to italicize it: to make it distinct from the rest of this post. So if you have difficulty reading a whole series of paragraphs in italics, please skip this or read something else I wrote on this Journal. Anyway, here goes nothing.
You don’t remember how you got like this exactly. There is one memory, though, that stands out at you. You were young: literally a child. You were at your grandparents’ near the entrance to the house, sitting at the old rickety table and its rotary dial telephone with the living room not that far away. You are pretty happy: because when you are here you are actually safe and it is a refuge from that cold place that is school and other children that you don’t really understand.
And then, as you are waiting–perhaps for some chocolate cake with coconut sprinkles that you have to eat in the kitchen along with the tea and milk you were once able to actually drink without being sick–you feel this … pang go through you. It is a strange feeling: like a reverse orgasm. It is not comfortable. It’s what you will later on know to be a painful moment of clarity: of realization.
You understand that this–all of this around you–is going to go away one day. And there is nothing you can do about it.
That is the earliest memory of the shadow and its melancholic length beginning to stretch down throughout the years to where you are right now. You start to bury yourself in old tape-recorded movies in a futile attempt to keep the past present. You immerse yourself in old books and keep them as friends: for they will be more constant and understanding than any flesh and blood companions you will ever have. You try to ignore your teenage years out of existence through books, said tapes, and video games. But the one thing that none of these elements can save you from is loneliness.
You make friends and somehow they keep moving on with their lives faster than you do. Your family tries to shelter you. It doesn’t help that they are religious and have food restrictions. Nor is it particularly helpful that you were born … different, as people keep telling you: in addition to the ethnicity thing. You don’t learn things the same way that people do and later you strongly suspect that you don’t experience things the same way either.
So you already have this predisposition to not trust the outside world at all. And you will be fighting this impulse with varying degrees of success for the rest of your life. You also are both drawn to people because you do not want to be left behind, and you are repulsed by them because they are not you. But those differences also intrigue you: a lot. This is going to be a running theme for the rest of your life: among other things.
So let’s fast forward this a bit. Finally you manage to gain enough inner strength to move out of your parents’ home: though you do need them for more practical matters from time to time. You get into Grad School with the aid of some people who care about you. You feel like you are making progress. You are slowly subverting and breaking free of all of those self-imposed and outwardly imposed restrictions.
But then there is this to consider. You are an introvert and this particular set of relatively simple and straightforward characteristics as set out in this link describes you very well. You now really have to deal with bureaucracy and its complete and utter ineptness. You have not been raised to deal with it really, and it galls you that you have to let it rule a portion of your life. This is the adulthood that you have unintentionally been fearing and loathing even before you knew about it: when you were so immersed in books and films and games in the vain hopes of trying to avoid it. The very frustration and cold reality that your family and school has been trying to shelter you from relatively until now when, suddenly, you have to deal with this shit a lot on your own.
But you persevere despite it. You even make new friends and new lovers. You get to go anywhere you want relatively at any time that you want. You get to dance. You get to hang around with people without curfews. You are working. You have something not unlike an adult life.
You realize after a while that the depression is not chemical: as much anything in human behaviour isn’t the result of biochemicals in some way. Your depression is really situational and the results of a personal cycle of behaviour. You get into situations where the person you are trying to be is not the person that you are acting like. You begin to emotionally, as opposed to intellectually understand, that people are not constant beings. It’s not so much that they lie–and some of them do–but they aren’t always the same person. Their lives change too.
You’ve always internalized emotions and what you are feeling now is a lot of anger, sadness, stress, anxiety, resentment, and outright hatred. You’ve been led to believe that it is unseemly to display these emotions: as though it is somehow more mature to be in agony all the time but continue to express that socially acceptable mode of behaviour known as adult irony. You’ve always had headaches and migraines. Your stomach bothers you. You have always been really over-sensitive–hypersensitive–and in the worst case scenario the stress only makes it worse: to the point where your muscle-memory has memorized your anxiety and tenseness, and you’ve realized you have actually been having panic attacks.
In fact: do you remember the characteristics of introversion in the link above? Imagine them magnified even more so. You get to the point where you don’t feel comfortable going outside. You feel ill thinking about being in a social function where no one is giving you that “in” to speak and so you don’t go anymore. And between you and others bashing your personal beliefs–which were rosy yet flimsy things at best–you just stop opening up altogether. You used to like travelling around, and you had a certain degree of confidence. It erodes as you sit and you no longer move.
And this is before you realize that you have been eating up your girlfriend’s money by not getting a job, that you’ve been selfish as fuck, and it is hard to relate to anyone anymore. And those books and the Internet are no longer taking the edge off from reality. You can’t escape anymore: or at least not as well as you could when you were younger.
You realize that there is a terrible consistency in telling certain people that you feel as though they are a part of you when you know–deep down–that you have begun, or you are resuming, to hate yourself. You don’t say what’s on your mind to anyone: not really. You begin to believe that no one has ever really understood you and it is less an element of adolescent angst and more of a matter of fact.
Then you run out of money and you have to move back in with your parents. Your privacy and peace and quiet becomes compromised. But you don’t really leave the house like you used to. You don’t like to go out and you have withdrawn from most people: save those small few who come to visit. It is as though you have spent years trying to overcome your introversion and now you are paying the price by not wanting to move at all.
You are in debt because of your Degree. And after getting a Master’s Degree, you have to go on welfare. You realize that the given moralities of hard-work and debt are things that should be questioned in society rather than simply being accepted. You become dependent on a computer again to socialize and then it breaks down and you need to use the public desktop. You will not go anywhere unless there is an accessible restroom of some sort nearby. Your clothes begin to fray and you neglect yourself because, on some intrinsic level, you don’t give a fuck anymore.
You begin to resemble outside what feel like inside. You remember moments of joy and they become poisoned by what happened after. It is hard to remember actually being happy anymore. People keep intruding on your space and asking the same tired old questions over and over again: despite the fact that you are clearly trying to keep busy. Some others, when you talk to them, say that you are over-exaggerating your “complaints,” and they make you feel like others have it worse than you and you should shut up.
You are looking for work and sending in submissions–and you know that is important–but there are days when you wonder if there is any point to it. Because then the depression really starts talking. It tells you that you will never be “this good,” and that this is “too difficult,” “too much work,” and “too confusing,” and that everything you have ever done does not matter–and never mattered–a damn.
It really gets bad at night. You start to miss people a lot: people you will never really be able to speak with again the way you did. You start to feel tremendous resentment towards the people you wish you had told off. You wonder how many opportunities you let pass by you in your brain fog. You have memories of past life: when you were more confident and more assured and then you look at what you are now. The screaming you feel inside you everyday gets much louder at those times.
It is safe to reiterate two facts: that in those moments you hate the world, and you hate yourself.
Of course, there are the fantasies too. Of going back in time and telling your younger self to do this instead of this, or not to to do this ever. That is, also of course, when you don’t fantasize about going back in time and killing yourself at that moment in life when you were truly happy so that you never, ever have to know about the partially self-made hell waiting for you in the future. At the same time, you also know that were a certain TARDIS come to visit you, you would leave without question or regret: that those people who don’t appreciate your complaining or have gotten tired of it and you can keep their precious world.
You basically feel like you are in a prison. Your therapist flat-out calls you on describing it as thus. And if you were to summarize this long, rambling thing into one sentence: Depression is is a prison of your own making where you only remember dancing, only remember contact, only remember fun, you feel like you lost or are otherwise losing everything you ever cared about, where you suffocate on your own inaction and sense of failure, where you are disappointed when you actually wake up the next morning, where you punish yourself, and anyone that you attempt to meet and socialize will see that cycle of self-entitlement, spite, grief, self-recrimination, and self-absorption you’ve found yourself spiralling into–ingraining itself into your bones–and will politely run for the hills.
Because no one likes a person who does not like themselves.
So, I’m going to end that there because it is way past the whining mark and these things tend to wind out of control once you keep writing about them. It is paradoxically this thing that I have been trying to avoid. I’m not trying to glorify it or make myself out to be this innocent victim of circumstance, but it describes kind of some days in a lifetime, I guess? I guess I just feel like I failed myself in some ways and that I have no one to blame–or perhaps more appropriately hold responsible–but myself.
It isn’t all bad though.
I am seeing a really awesome therapist. And I have a 250-word tax to keep fulfilling and at least a half an hour quota of going outside to remember. I keep filling out a worksheet of places I send work to and to seek employment at. I am researching some free-lancing opportunities. And I also speaking with some people from my past again.
I guess I am ironically making a routine for myself: something I sorely lacked when I lived on my own. If I learned anything from my girlfriend before I had to move out, it is that routines can be our friends. As such, I don’t like to deviate from it much. I don’t like to be pushed, or trapped in a small space with someone who likes to control things but to go about matters at my own pace. I’m also working on sleeping better and I am eating better too.
There is another positive even in the negative. I just finished reading Paradise Lost and remembered that part where Satan realizes, even when he escapes Hell, that he carries Hell with him: inside of him. After having the occasion to revisit some of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, I realized that we all do the same. And this fact, my personal hell, gives me the power to motivate and keep making things: to create some kind of … meaning out of all of this. Someone once told me that I create beauty and pain is an excellent material to craft beautiful things from as any kind of creator might tell you. It is one of my sources–if not my central source–of power.
But there is one more thing I want to mention: something that I specifically want to leave you all with. During the period of the Dorian Grey, I was talking with a counsellor at my University about something job-related and she also flat-out called me on being depressed. She told me to make a point of writing about three constructive things that I do in a day. And eventually, after a while, I realized that helps too.
So Dorian Greys can be necessary when you need to purge things out of you, or begin to unleash Hell on Earth, but remembering the useful things you’ve done–the positive and affirmative things you’ve done, no matter how small they seem to be–can be just as invaluable: if not more so.
ETA: If you’d like, please read this link about the care of extroverts. It seems that this world is becoming, or has always been, difficult for the both of us.