What's Depression Like?
I don’t know, really, it’s hard to say.
Depression is you, at three times your body weight, riding on your back. It’s a version of you that slows you down, every pace heavy and aching. It’s you, anchoring yourself in your bed, as daylight’s break becomes a distant echo and the phone keeps ringing. It’s a booming, mocking voice.
“What was that for?”
“That wasn’t funny”
“You’re embarrassing yourself”
It’s the urge that tells you “you might as well have another”. It’s your flabby body, screaming that you’ve let yourself go, and it’s your fault.
It’s there, whispering to you on another sleepless night about your deepest fears and anxieties. It’s the screenwriter creating coked-up conspiracies. “And here’s when you lose everything”.
It’s on you when the trip to the supermarket, reminding you that Yes, Everyone Is Staring. What’d you put that in your basket for? You’ll regret that. And that chat you made with the cashier? What was that?
You plead with It to stop the headache, but it’s not really a headache. It’s a constant, angry malaise, as if waking up suddenly from a fever nap. It doesn’t relent. You hate your friends, it decides. “These people like you?”, It asks. But they won’t if you spend another evening staring at your pint. Come on. Chin up. Talk. Say something. “You won’t.” And if you do, it’ll be absolute nonsense.
It’s a poisonous lover’s call to bed when you really should see the doctor. “But they won’t look after you like I do. Nobody can”. Ah, It’s probably right.
It tells you nobody will want to speak to you when they see you in the street. But if they do, make sure to be in total panic and speak absolute nonsense. You hate your job, don’t you? Go with that, that’s what people want to hear. They texted you a few days after to see if you’re alright. Maybe get a drink some time. Or go bowling, they mentioned something about bowling and you said oh, I’ve not done that for ages. You won’t reply.
Sometimes It’ll indulge you to make a spectacle. “Have a night off”. So the rush of enjoying a pure moment in the present gives you centre-stage to overdo it. To make plans for dinner that never come to fruition. Shots! They’re always great. To sing karaoke. You should be in a band, you’re honestly dead good, mate. “Joking aside, you should not be in a band.”
None of your clothes suit you. When were turn-ups cool? 2012?
I should phone my pare- “You should not phone your parents. Leave them worried. Be the main story next time you catch up.”
It urges you to hurt yourself and laughs when you haven’t the courage. It tells you nobody would miss you, before it savages you for even thinking about doing it.
It saps at your energy and creativity like a parasite in your stomach. It squeezes your heart until it pleads for respite. It’s in every bead of sweat when you wake up panicking. And It lies next to you with the audacity to ask “what now?”. It knows exactly.
But then you harpoon the fucker. And It doesn’t die, but let me tell you - harpooning anything is quite bad for it.
You actually go to the doctor. For the first few days of the course of your answer, whatever it is, it takes last, hopeful shots, like a dying villain in a Western. The weight you carry on your shoulders starts to loosen. The colours brighten. The trees blossom. You can taste. You can touch. There’s electricity in your fingers. Your pupils focus. Your chats with the cashier at the shop become genius exchanges. You’ve just made their day with some razor-sharp, A+ patter, and you know it, too. You go to the gig and hear instruments, rather than the dull yawn you’d heard before. People enjoy your company. They wouldn’t bother seeing you if you didn’t. You know that.
You get out of bed.
You put in a shift. You hate your job, sure, but who cares? Everyone hates their job.
You put a reasonable amount of poison in your body, but it’s nothing you can't handle. And you wake up fresh.
Turning up your jeans is still cool.
“Hi Mum. No, I’m actually fine, how are you?”
The bad dreams are less frequent. If anything, they’re just weird, in a quasi-Lynchian soft-pornographic way. Maybe that’s just me.
“That was good”
“That was really funny”
“You’re alright, you know”
It’s your job to keep It off your back. You know they’re still around, just wounded. The more time you leave it to grow back the hole in its chest, the smaller that hole becomes. You still got that harpoon?
The louder your voice is, the smaller It’s becomes. The more you acknowledge Its harm, the more you have in your arsenal to beat it. The longer you wait, the more those snarling, cackling voices come back to tell you you’re nothing. However you do it, that’s your call. Some medicate, some talk, some do endless yoga, some do all three, some do something totally different. But you’ll know if it’s healthy and if it’s the right thing.
So what’s depression then? It’s a fight against a warped version of yourself, three times your weight. That’s how I feel, anyway. It might be different for you. In any case, make sure you remember where the harpoon’s kept.