Tuesday 28 June 2016

The Agony of Not Feeling

I wrote this a little while ago, and doing so made me feel a little better.

Today I'm depressed and I have no idea why. That's probably because there wasn't a trigger, there often isn't. We all feel sad sometimes, feel down and depressed, have “bad days”, but Depression is different and it's hard to explain how. It’s not as easy to define as feeling sad or defeated. It’s not as simple as walking in the steps of the black dog, bleakly staring around you, wondering how you got there.
Do you remember when you were a kid and you rode your bike or ran into a wall or post by accident? When you fell over and smacked your head on the floor? Something like that? There was a moment, so brief but bright, when you were stunned, the breath from your lungs had whooshed out and you knew there was surely pain to come, but in that split second there's just you and the breathless numbness of shock. That's what Depression can feel like sometimes – an in-between, a “without form”, an empty space waiting to be filled.
I hate that feeling; being haunted by the expectation of what’s to come. You know it’s coming, can almost hear it, taste it, but for now you’re at the mercy of not feeling, the shock of emptiness, the breathless moment before your stomach plunges into the free fall of despair. There's nothing you can do with it. You're not even sure what it is, your fight or flight is about to be triggered and in the meantime you don't know whether to shit or shower about it, but you're locked in and you're going to have to choose, going to have to decide, going to have to move, the urgency settled in your legs, in your arms, in your gut, clenched around your heart, is telling you it's coming, any moment now...
And still you simply hover. In between. The not feeling. The empty. All that urgency isn't inside you, you're swimming in it, but it doesn't buoy you, it just laps at you indifferently, not caring that it's dragging you to the rocks – but which rocks? Where?
It's excruciating in its formlessness. It's indifference will only lead to no good. You know this. You know it all, but your knowledge is like a concrete slab in your head, useless to you and unbending. No one sees it. No one sees the crack about to open up. But you do. You can feel the tremors in the walls around you, but there is nothing you can do about it but watch in frozen horror as it inevitably splits beneath your feet, the dark well, ready to consume...

It is this I dread most about Depression. The pain and despair I feel sometimes are excruciating, no doubt about it, the seesaw gut spin of anxiety rocks your equilibrium, leaving you dizzy and confused, but it's the unfeeling helplessness that's worst – helplessness in the face of certainty. The knowing it's coming and there's something you should do, but you might as well be nailed to the bed and buried in jelly for all the good it's going to do you. You're hopeless because you don't even remember your plan, the one you've made notes about, practiced, been through a million times. You're a fool, a useless helpless fool who doesn't have the sense you were born with and all you need is your plan and you don't know where it is and it's probably going to be useless anyway, all that thought and therapy sucked out of you like a bad case of the bends, because the road ahead rears up at you, you can see it coming, know you're going to spin out and if only you could remember your plan and save yourself, but it probably won't work so the weight of the road just crushes you instead, weighing you down into the bed, slowly, infinitesimally slowly, not frantic, just surely, just bone achingly slow and you couldn't reach the probably useless plan anyway...

That's how it feels sometimes. They tell you about the pain, they tell you about the trip hop of anxiety, they tell you about the darkness, but it's the in between that is more likely to destroy me.

Except, it's not. I've washed up on this shore before. I know this place, hateful as it is, I’ve weathered it a hundred, a thousand, times before, and it hasn't beaten me yet. Yes, it's held me down, trapped me in its airless waiting room for weeks, months at a time, stymied me, and made me ache with emptiness and impotence, but it has not beaten me. I know it better than it knows me. It's not an old friend, not even an enemy, it's just a place, an in-between –which means there is a before and an after. I just have to breathe, just hold on, and wait for when I can raise myself again from its icy depths, piece-by-piece but unbroken, stronger than the weight that would hold me down and drown me in its numb indifference. It's far from easy, don't ever let anyone tell you it is, and lord, is it tiring, but it can be done. I can do it. I have done it. And I will bloody well do it again.

1 comment:

  1. Suck it up butter cup! That's always how I feel when I get like that. I get frustrated because I don't know why it happened so I can't try and mitigate it. I try to process how I'm feeling and sometimes I even express it (well done for being much better than I am at that). Usually though I try and focus on something positive (this usually fails). Some days though I end up walking to work chanting suck it up buttercup over and over until part of me says sod that shit I can be depressed. It is OK. I'll feel better when I feel better. It never seems like it will be and that's the real struggle. Stay frosty.