Beyond the Blues
Beyond the Blues

Trigger Warning: Depression

The Monster That Lives in so Many, but Dies in Few

Trigger Warning: Depression

Sometimes depression is really warranted: when friends bail, leaving an aching heart and lonely schedule, or when lovers disappear and stop responding to your calls. But then there are other days, days like today, where nothing at all causes the depressive state; it just happens. Yesterday was Monday, so the depression made sense, and the weather was shitty too, which would also warrant a lowered mood. But today, today is Tuesday, one day closer to Friday, one day farther from Monday. The weather isn’t awful, and the sun is shining. So why? Why, today, is the depression once again eating away at my flesh and bones like a hungry, blood guzzling, monster?

It can be hard, no, impossible to fully describe what a depressive state feels and looks like. It isn't described in one uniform way for every person struggling to deal with it, either. Faked smiles, high energy and plenty of sleep can be relatively simple to imitate. But the reality is much further, colder, much harsher than the looks of healthy skin and perky eyes.

My eyes don’t perk up when I see someone I love. They don’t sparkle, and my frown doesn’t flip into an ear-to-ear smile. When I see someone I love, I watch their mouths moving with no words coming out. I watch as their excitement turns quickly into confusion and concern. I watch as they too, frown, and their eyes no longer sparkle while talking to me. Because I can’t always fake a smile. And get plenty of sleep. Or have copious amounts of energy. Not today. Not tomorrow. Maybe we can try again next week, or the week after that. Maybe you should hold onto your thought just long enough for me to be able to listen when you’re talking.

Not today. Not tomorrow. Maybe we can try again next week, or the week after that.

I’m not trying to be rude, or ignorant. I wish as much as you do that I could contribute to a conversation. But right now, right now I can’t. And I wish I could explain. Or at least write about it. But I promise you that would do you no good. You wouldn’t understand why I don’t just snap out of it, why I can’t just snap out of it. You wouldn’t understand that no matter how hungry I get, or how much I would love to join you for dinner or a night out, that I can’t. I can’t eat right now, or even bear the thought of food. I move it back and forth across my plate with a fork, but I can’t lift it to my mouth to eat. I want to, but can’t.

Not leaving my bed for days at a time is normal. I like my bed. I like to sleep. When I’m sleeping the thoughts seem a little more tolerable. I can finally be good enough, or skinny enough, or healthy enough. My dreams are the perfect escape from reality. They allow for just a few hours of calm, before once again I’m awake. And a storm hits, a storm of overwhelming sadness and misery.

Sure, I can pretend to be happy or to be excited about seeing you today. But I can’t, and I’m not.

In fact, I couldn’t be less excited to see you, because that means comparison, and conversations that drag on for hours, and that means being awake. And just the idea of being awake is enough to send my mind into a downward spiral. So, no, I am not excited or happy to see you. I am not looking forward to the snapchats, and texts, and gossip. I like my bed. I like to sleep.

But it’s not Monday anymore. It’s Tuesday, which means there is one day less that I must account for in the countdown to the weekend. The weekend, well, the weekend may be the one thing I can look forward to, because that means I don’t have to wake up. If I so desire, I can stay where my thoughts are subsided. My mood is elevated by imaginative dreams and elusive visions. Candy trees replace gloomy storm clouds, pink mopeds replace loud cars. Humbleness and kindness replace violence and anger. I no longer look in the mirror and see sadness. I see progress, and a smile replaces the frown that permanently fixates the corners of my mouth. Because in these moments, these weeks of progressive misery and sadness, the days that I can’t hear words coming from your rambling mouth, the times when sleep is that of abundance or lacking, these moments cause for quick sanded feet. You can’t run, and you certainly can’t just lift your feet and keep walking. The quick sand doesn’t end. Looking over the vast expansion of empty desert before you, there’s only one thing you will ever find. And it’s quick sand. It’s like a sick game of all you must do is get to point B, or "you are here" and your goal is over there. It’s a never-ending game of chess, but your pieces were removed ten moves ago. But you can’t just stop playing the game, because the opponent insists on winning, even after they have already won. Even after you’ve mentally been at point B for days, or you passed the finish line a month ago. You don’t get to quit the game. It doesn’t end. Because the desert doesn’t end.

Looking over the vast expansion of empty desert before you, there's only one thing you will ever find. And it's quick sand.

Cotton candy skies and glittery suns sound nice now, don’t they?

I sleep to escape. I stare blankly at the wall, to escape. For just one minute, maybe staring off into space will turn my reality into less of a reality. Less of a miserable, continuous game of chess. Maybe for just one minute, my reality will imitate the marshmallow clouds and purple grass. The heavens are much more enjoyable to stare blankly at then hell is.

And that’s what depression is. For me, at least. A hell that never ends. There isn’t any sort of escape. A constant battle between your own thoughts, but within your thoughts. It’s telling yourself you are going to be okay. And that this isn’t real, and it will go away shortly. I wish I knew when shortly was, and how long I will be waiting until I am back to myself. But I don’t, and for that, I must say that I am sorry. I wish I could fix myself, but I can’t. Because I am not actually broken.

The one thing I realize in this constant game of chess is that I don’t feel broken at all. I simply feel imaginative. Invisible but still seen. Like nobody can hear me talking, while everyone can hear me rambling on and on. I know that I am talking by the responses from those listening, but my own mind, thoughts, and soul tell me I’m not saying anything at all. That I am dreaming or just need to come back to reality. But this is reality for those of us who suffer the battle with our own thoughts. Our everyday consists of more thoughts than some will carry out through a week or two.

I wish I could concentrate. Imagine how productive I could be if I were just able to focus and not be distracted for a few seconds. You laugh at my inability to stay laser focused, when in truth, it takes more than all my effort to pay attention to any sort of task. My energy becomes drained from the simplest of things, like reading an article, taking a walk, or writing a story. Because my mind doesn’t want to be doing those things. What my mind really wants to be doing is screaming. And sleeping. Concentrating wasn’t at the top of the list of desired ways to spend a Tuesday.

So, you ask for lunch, and while my mind tells me to stay stranded in the desert, in the quick sand, for likely the rest of my life; my mouth responds with a politely regretful yes. I will meet you today, and as mentioned before, I am not looking forward to our meeting. It will drag on for hours longer than I had hoped for and there will be laughs that are faked, smiles that fade split seconds after they appear, and there will be a sadness. A dreary feeling that you didn’t notice within yourself prior to meeting me for lunch. I tend to have that affect on people. You’ll realize that something is off and nine times out of ten, will ask if I am okay. I wish I couldn’t predict the whole meeting and truthfully, I wish my thoughts allowed for me to just stay silent for once, and enjoy our encounter. But I know myself and my mind all too well, and to ask for an off switch for just an afternoon, would be dreadful. Reasons upon reasons for not allowing an easy afternoon will pop up, within my own thoughts. Again. A battle I can’t seem to win, because it’s always my fault that I am thinking this way.

It’s crazy, isn’t it? Consciously knowing that the thoughts should subside, always aware that this is only happening because of your own mind. War without warfare. A battle in which will always be a lost cause, because there is absolutely no way to fight back. I thought going out would help. I thought this lunch with you could maybe be the solution to my never-ending misery. I thought. And was once again, wrong in doing so. It doesn’t help. Seeing people who mean something to you, it doesn’t help like it should. Or like you had hoped it would. Talking about everything you have been up to, all things you are accomplishing or should be.

A life that I don’t want to run from. Now that’s the ultimate success story. The moment I know that I made it, and am exactly where I planned on being. I wake up to bright skies. A future ensues, and there are kids running around, splashing in the water, while the heat beats down on the place I call home. Sand castles line the beach, and the sun glistens on the surface of the ocean, reflecting at just the right angle to beam into your brightened eyes. The clouds in my reality aren’t grey. They more closely resemble the dreams of cotton candy skies and little pink mopeds. Rain can’t seem to track you down, so the greens around you grow rapidly, and flourish. Birds chirp consistently with the waves crashing against the shore. And for a split second, the game of chess has ended. Your pieces live on the board, and the finish line no longer repairs itself waiting to be broken through. The quick sand subsides, and the vast desert seems to be overwhelmed with critters, trees, flowers even. The sand beneath your feet turns a pale white color and the noise of your constant thoughts, disappears. You are left simply breathing. And feeling the sun beams bounce off your skin. Your mind slips up and for a second, even if split, you are left happy. Purely happy. And alive. Often more alive than you have felt in weeks.

Birds chirp consistently with the waves crashing against the shore.

Reality is harsh and doesn’t feel like sunbeams. Reality feels like being hit in the head with a football at the game once you tried to spend time outside of your bedroom. It feels like when you stayed up all night studying for a test just to receive it and see F written on the top of the page. Defeat is a good word to describe it. That feeling of failure, without having anything to fail at. Having a general feeling of ultimate defeat within yourself. Because you can’t stop the feelings. You can’t stop your mind from aiming in every which direction and bouncing off the walls of your head.

Sometimes depression is warranted. But today, today is Tuesday. One day closer to Friday, and one day farther from Monday. The weather isn’t awful, and the sun is shining. So why? Why, today, is the depression once again eating away at my flesh and bones like a hungry, blood guzzling, monster?

Donna Sczygelski
Donna Sczygelski
Read next: Never In the Cover of Night
Donna Sczygelski

I am a creative writer whose specialty seems to be falling in (then falling out, but much harder) of love

See all posts by Donna Sczygelski