I know it’s coming when I run out of things to say. I get very quiet, which is strange for me. Once I realize that I am being so quiet and that I am struggling to find anything worth saying, I start to talk more and more. I talk too much: I overcompensate. I say anything that pops into my head just to fill the overwhelming silence. Then I leave; try to make my exit calm and natural, and not the harried escape my mind is making it out to be.
I spend more time alone, watching TV shows and allowing dirty clothes to pile up on my floor. I don’t want to leave my bed because it’s the only place I feel safe. I don’t want to be around other people because I can’t be myself, at least not the myself they usually see. It exhausts me to even try, and I don’t want to place the burden on anyone else. It’s not their fault; they didn’t do anything and they can’t do anything to help me. No one can make me feel better because I don’t know why I feel like this in the first place. I just do.
It usually only lasts a few days, a week or so at most, before I am yanked from my bed by the quick pace of life. And I don’t necessarily feel any better. I just adjust to the feeling, and learn to deal with it. Life waits for no one, after all. I try to be myself again. Sometimes, I succeed. I like to think I hide it well when I don’t. And I wait. I hope that it doesn’t last too long, and I go on with my life, pretending I’m okay until I am again.
And then gradually, things start to seem more do-able. I don’t panic every time something doesn’t go as planned or every time I make a mistake. I don’t assume the worst. Rolling out of bed each morning is easier. I want to stay up with my friends later. I want to stay on the phone longer. My stomach slowly releases its tension and the bleakness that seemed to be blanketing my future dissolves. For the first time in weeks or months (or years) I feel hopeful. I feel happy: actually, really happy. Not just some shadowy, fleeting echo of happiness.
When the doctor told me that it seemed like I was depressed, I wanted to roll my eyes. I wanted to scream. I wanted to give in to the tears threatening to fall. I didn’t do any of that. I nodded. Of course I was depressed; I’d known that much for years. What I wanted was for her to tell me why I was depressed or how to stop being that way. She offered me medicine. I didn’t want medicine, I wanted answers. But no one can give me the answers to those questions. So I write. And I dance. And I wait for days when I feel better.
There isn’t really a happy ending or a lesson here. Maybe there will be one day, but for now (as usual) I’m just waiting. I spend a lot of my time waiting. That’s all I can do; that’s all I know to do. I’m depressed, and I can’t stop being depressed because I want to or because you want me to. It sucks, but it’s true.
I’ve been sad for as long as I can remember, and life has given me so many reasons to be sad. But I’ve survived all of it, and I know that life has also given me so many reasons to be happy. And with that comes the knowledge (which is so hard for me to remember, but I try, I try, I try) that I will survive this too.