Where do I begin?
Even as I type this now, I have no idea how to explain it.
I guess I should start with an example I remember the clearest.
When I was in high school, I remember it was a regular day at school when my teacher explaining something to class. It was nothing too exciting. There was small chatter amongst everyone as the teacher’s back was turned as she wrote on the whiteboard.
I was writing down notes when I felt it. It was a strange kind of vertigo that felt like waking up.
The voices and sounds around me began to fade. I desperately clung to what semblance of emotion I could, but it easily slipped through my metaphorical fingers. My ears were ringing. A tingling like electricity ran through me. It wasn’t a physical sensation, but a wave of cold felt like pulsed through me like poison. It was like the fire of life inside me was reduced to nothing but a smouldering flicker.
I would have been scared, or rather, I should have been. But I wasn’t.
Physically I knew there was nothing wrong with me. But in terms of the rest of me… well, everything inside me was becoming numb over the crackling sounds of static. All I could hear was static and I began to feel nothing.
I looked around and the faces of all those around me might as well have been blank husks. I was in a room filled with people and yet never had I felt more alone. I saw and could hear them talking but I didn’t take any of it in. It was like I was fading out of reality as I was disconnected from the world around me.
I somehow managed to excuse myself to go to the bathroom. I can’t say I remember in detail how I managed to do so in such a state without arising suspicion, but perhaps it was because how well I could hide things.
In that state I just…. didn’t feel anything.
With the toilet lid closed, I sat in the stall, staring face forward. And I’d wait it out to feel something; to beckon myself back from the darkness I had suddenly sunk into.
The static would fade and some of me would reconnect with reality. In a way, I plugged myself back in so to speak. I don’t remember how much time passed, but no one had come to look for me, so I would say that was a good sign. And like nothing ever happened, I exited the stall, splashed my face with water and returned to class. Neither my teacher nor classmates were any the wiser. They had no idea. Ignorance is bliss as they say.
That wasn’t the first time that happened to me. And I can’t say it was the last either.
When I was younger, this happened so often that I thought it was normal. I even had a routine that if I was in a public place I would remove myself from the environment until I could reattach myself to reality. Sometimes I would be out shopping, at a party, school, a friends and it would just happen. Without warning that static would start ringing and make everything numb.
I will admit this much. I was in denial about the state of my mental health for years. It was in the denial that something this obviously wrong seemed normal to me.
I didn’t want to accept it. I didn’t want to be a statistic of ‘just another teen with depression’, that so many people would roll their eyes at and judge. For we live in a society where people don’t want those who are depressed to die and yet they don’t want to accept when someone says they might have depression.
In my desperation to fit the ‘norm’, I wanted to think that the agonizing sadness I carried inside was nothing more than teen angst. In fact, I blamed a lot on what I suspected was just 'teen angst'.
Self-loathing? Teen angst.
Random spurts of crying? Teen angst!
No passion for a future? You guessed it, teen angst!
But years passed and I became an adult.
The so called 'teen angst' stage never stopped.
It kept going and going.
Until one day, I almost attempted to take my own life.
Talk about a wakeup call. The foundations of my denial crumbled down that day, on the day I lived when I planned to die.
What I have found is that depression comes in disguises. Often enough, it will disguise itself in your own self-doubt. It casts itself like a shadow over your shoulder. In my case, it hid in the static. The static that crept into me and made me feel nothing, even in moments I was just having fun with friends.
It wasn’t until much later on when I started my journey of healing that I realised what I was experiencing was dissociation. The static I was experiencing was a symptom of my depression. Like I said before, you would have thought it was obvious, but to me, it wasn’t.
I wish I had known earlier. I wish I had spoken about it sooner.
But there’s no changing the past.
We can only move forward.
I want to end this on a hopeful note but I also want to be honest. While I wish I could say this is the part that I tell you that I am content and I love every day of this life that would be a lie.
What I will say is that I am content-enough. The journey of trying to become healthy has been hard and some days it’s still difficult for me to think if I will ever be okay. However, little by little the static doesn’t take me anymore, but some days I still feel it trying to creep back in. I may have shut the door on it, but I can still feel it scratching on it like a wild animal.
My hope is that you, the reader, never has to experience the static. And if you have, know that you are not alone in this world. It may trick you into thinking you are, but it cannot strip you of your place in this world. You are here and you alive.
And so I bestow an optimistic metaphor on to you that keeps me fighting.
The channel may only be static now, but the remote isn’t gone, it’s just lost. One day when it’s found you’ll be able to change the channel.