Depression: Under Pressure
Another day, another David Bowie revelation for a writer desperately in need of such revelation.
Pressure pushing down on me
Pressing down on you, no man ask for
Under pressure that burns a building down
Splits a family in two
Puts people on streets
Today’s personal revelation brought to you by Under Pressure by David Bowie and Queen.
Depression can feel like pressure, pushing down on your soul. It’s symbolic pressure but for you, it’s real. For me, it was real. The pressure of money, the pressure of achievement, the pressure to feel accomplished. Or, the crushing pressure of the absence of achievement and accomplishment. These pressures become a swirling vortex in my very soul, swamping my vision of the positive, my feelings of love and joy and blocking out the supportive words of those who love me.
How do we navigate the vortex, how do I navigate my swirling mad vortex of depression, self-loathing? I clean. I don’t clean well, but I clean. When all else fails, when I finally reach my limit of despair and wallowing in the vast miasma of anxiety and doubt, I clean. I repair my surroundings and I symbolically rearrange my very soul. Invariably, my swirling vortex of depression is accompanied by waves of apathy represented by literal detritus in my home.
It's the terror of knowing what the world is about
Watching some good friends screaming
"Let me out!"
Pray tomorrow gets me higher
Pressure on people, people on streets
Navigating the vortex always has a soundtrack and for the second day in a row, that soundtrack is David Bowie, crossed with Queen. As before, you can read my self-pitying recent narrative here though I don’t recommend it. Once again though, it was as if a force greater than myself pushed me to listen to Under Pressure and as I did the lyrics spoke to me in a new way, a deeply personal way. Music has a way of meaning what you need it to mean in the moment you need that meaning and Under Pressure gave me that.
In my case, the terror of knowing what the world is about, is understanding that I have the privilege of life, safety and potential. The potential that at any moment, life can improve immensely. The lows may be there but then you scream ‘Let me out,’ you release yourself from the lows and reach for the highs. That’s a rather simplistic notion, admittedly, but it’s proven true for me, I can overcome my lows by demanding myself to come out of it. To literally clean the low away.
Chipping around, kick my brains around the floor
These are the days it never rains but it pours
I described my depression like a swirling vortex, essentially, a hurricane. That’s how it feels to me, on the inside, in my mind. Hearing Freddie Mercury say 'These are the days it never rains but it pours,' made me choke up. It crystallized my feelings in a way that advice from friends and unconditional love from my family should but hasn’t. That’s because I am not trying to put up a front against Freddie Mercury. I am not worried about burdening Freddie, Queen, or David Bowie with my emotional well being.
Thus why it can seem as if Under Pressure understands me more than any human being in the world. I can have a personal revelation and reflection with a song but not a person. That may not be the healthiest thing in the world but it’s as real a feeling as any that I’ve ever had. Under Pressure relieved pressure in my mind that I likely could not express to another person without hearing this song, without reflecting myself against the lyrics and their unintentional meaning in my life at this exact moment.
Turned away from it all like a blind man
Sat on a fence but it don't work
Keep coming up with love but it's so slashed and torn
Why, why, why?
Love, love, love, love, love
Insanity laughs under pressure we're breaking
It was at this point, the lyrics highlighted above, in Under Pressure when I started cleaning. It was easy enough, I had an old bed that I had thrown in my office just to get it out of the way. I assembled it and now I have a guest bed in my apartment. Moving the bed revealed a wealth of dust and detritus that had built up out of sight, so I grabbed a broom and dustpan and went to work. I assembled the bed, I had two chairs and they fit in the room with the bed, I didn’t realize I had this much space. I smiled, unforced and unpracticed.
I’m good at pretending nothing is wrong. I’m great at it actually, ask everyone who knows me and they will tell you I’m great at pretending I am just fine. Insanity laughs under pressure we’re breaking. I was breaking internally, a form of insanity masked by forced laughs, smiles and the veneer of well-being. All the while the junk, debris and trash is piling up and I am turned away like a blind man, sitting on the fence between action and inaction, taking comfort in the ease of inaction.
Can't we give ourselves one more chance?
Why can't we give love that one more chance?
Why can't we give love, give love, give love, give love
Give love, give love, give love, give love, give love?
When this part of Under Pressure kicks in, I’m excited, I am openly weeping but in the most profound and important way. I’m not blind anymore, I can see it all, the challenges before me and with my apartment acting as the literal representation of the challenges my mind created for me, I give love, the love of self, one more chance. I reach out to myself and shake myself awake, I pull myself back from the despair, I lift myself from the swirling hurricane vortex of depression, I physicalize it, I clean it.
I’m not much of a cleaner. My organizational methods are deeply lacking. Marie Kondo I am not. But what I know I can do is sweeping and wiping and washing. I can make the ugly, gross whatever go away with cleaning supplies and elbow grease. I can clean my mind by cleaning my environment. This is not a cure all. This won’t work for everyone and I am not strong for pulling myself out of depression, if indeed I have done that. Needing people is not a weakness. My beloved friend Faith Rogers has been here the whole time, holding my hand whether she was physically here or not. Because of her, I know that when I don’t give myself another chance, she will. So I didn’t really do this alone.
'Cause love's such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the night
And love (people on streets) dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is ourselves under pressure