I feel a jarring darkness that lurks inside this past week’s events. Initially I wanted to call my strongest emotion “powerless.” And while that feeling is definitely present, I’m still really struggling to overcome “unsettled.”
In chronological actuality, I suppose everything began this past Tuesday when an acquaintance of mine, just 21 years old, ended his life. We met back in 2011, working in the production crew for a local film series. I’m certain he was our youngest team member, only 18 years old then, living in the walk-in closet of a downtown apartment he shared with two other film production pros in the group. We worked simultaneously on a couple of projects while he was here. I was never especially close to him, and despite our Facebook friendship, I lost most contact with him a little over a year ago.
I wish I had a sixth sense, a third eye, something to help me identify others who also struggle with depression or suicidal thoughts. I know that I can’t save people from themselves—I’m not “responsible” for their situations and reactions. That doesn’t make me feel any better though, or improve my perspective in any way.
So often, eyes are cruelly blind to the soul. How could I not see or at least feel that familiar agony in someone? Even if my experiences only allowed me the smallest fraction of empathy to your reality…how is it possible that I didn’t recognize Pain?
I guess it makes me realize what incredible actors we are in everyday life—what impressively elaborate masks, intelligent camouflage we wear.
During my morning newsfeed scroll on Facebook this past Thursday, I came across a vague local news story about a body found in the park just one block from my house. Details are basically that a woman, early-mid 30s hanged herself near the kid’s playground area of the park. The woman is still anon at this point, but I admit to checking online a couple of times a day in search of identity updates. I’m secretly and selfishly hoping that I won’t know her.
I decided to drive by the park on my way home from work yesterday (Friday), curious if I would be able to see where in the park they had closed off previously. The whole playground area is very visible from the street, and I could see at least 20 kids climbing and running around it. Watchful mothers sat on nearby benches, and the winding path throughout the park was sprinkled with joggers and walking duos—it literally looked completely ordinary, nothing unusual at all.
As I returned my eyes to the road, that’s when I saw it—the rope still hanging there. So high up in this 100+ year-old pine tree, I’m positive not everyone in the park had even noticed it. And there was something sort of morbid about the noose just dangling there so nonchalantly. Kids playing together obliviously below it. Weirdly intense image I can’t help re-playing through my mind.
Personally, I may not have been so close to these specific circumstances; but for my own reasons, I am still greatly impacted.
I wish I could have helped you carry that bucket, if only for a moment, as you were flooded, feeling drenched and weak. I had hoped to notice when your arms shook from the struggle.
You are not alone: that’s a promise I know I can keep. It’s ok to release the haunting, possessive thoughts. What you feel is valid and understandable. You are meaningful, not guilty. You are important, not crazy.
And in knowing this, remember to stay strong, fellow soldiers. Your Life is precious.
The taste of fear,
Smells like procrastination,
A countdown to destruction,
Trapped in a cell of guilt,
Shackled by the song and dance,
There’s an apathy that cracks my bones.
Words scribbled hastily
Like a blood-shot faux pas—
Can’t indemnify this derailment.
This meaningless, seeming
Less or more
© 2014 Christine Bradley
Insomnia is one of the most annoying aspects of depression. I can think of an impressive number of reasons why this seemingly basic ritual of sleep becomes so complicated…so easily. However, what this post is actually about is going to prevent me from making any lists:
Which is, on the insomnia-related note, sometimes a valid feeling to blame for the inability (or avoidance) of sleep.
To better explain—in spite of my very real, very intense exhaustion, I’m just too drained to even try to sleep. It’s like the disappointment that will come from trying—lying in bed with ear plugs and eye masks, only to have your brain suddenly kick into the 11th gear—is worse than just procrastinating until I (hopefully) pass out on the couch. In fact, on a personal note, I’ve learned over the years that one of the symptoms that I’m slipping into a more serious depression is that I begin sleeping on the couch in the living room more and more, versus sleeping in my ultra-comfy, queen-sized bed in the back.
To further demonstrate this moment’s motivation…the thought is “I’m too tired to care about doing anything good for myself, even if that means the result is having more energy, thus feeling better.”
One of the reasons I point out this apathy + insomnia relationship is to illustrate why I think it is one of the most dangerous moments in depression. Because so often, the root of apathy is “I don’t deserve it [feeling happy, feeling healthy] anyway.”
…Why should I care about caring…?
Unfortunately, apathy is a strong catalyst for that haunting, pitch-black, controlling spiral that comes with all depression: The point at which you capsize; or when you finally stop kicking to stay just above the water—surrender to the vacuum.
So when I feel overcome with nothingness, a black hole of feeling—it’s funny in a way, but I miss my pain and sadness. At least with these intense emotions, I feel Alive. If I feel nothing where I know there is passion, then I must already be dead.
And that’s a dangerous conclusion for anyone to arrive at, concerning your feelings and how they can affect your reality/perspective. What’s worse is this thought can grow into this self-created infection—like a daily reminder from an overdue bill collection agency.
My heart is bankrupt, but my brain still works in shifts to harass me.
Ultimately, apathy evolves into this gaping disconnection, and how far that disconnection goes depends on how far down the spiral I have traveled. It’s a powerfully strange sadness—to be in a room of friends and/or family and still, somehow, be Alone.
Loneliness, to me, always feels more painful when I am with others, than when I am truly by myself.
Sign away on this ancient obligation
To clock-watching battle trenches
A steady measurement of fever,
Optimists listen for a heartbeat.
Swim into a lake of ice.
A steadfast surface un-cracked—
Here’s an easy oath
Desperate cries for, and of, presence;
But all I hear are shouts
Possible only if I could stop falling
Out of the present.
Anchored to stonewall tendencies,
My great barrier belief,
I’m holding my breath.
These baptisms of standards
Overflow me with sorrow,
The salts of dehydration.
No one leads a true, great quest
This sunken ship of pleasures.
Without patience, their corks bob with life,
Troubled by the inconvenience
Of the dive.
You need oxygen
Like I need lungs.
I can’t take the bait of your hope,
Tastes of poison in my mouth.
The luring charade
My gut rejects instinctively;
Schools I could never follow—
Confusing rituals to conjure
To me, looks like oil on the surface
Suffocating with no light.
With depths so familiar
And a surface so alien,
I dare not kick my legs.
© 2014 Christine Bradley