Every time I come here to start writing it feels harder to put words down in a way that feels meaningful and worthwhile.
Part of it lies in the nature of my illness. Just because I suffer with anxiety and depression doesn’t mean I’m permanently in some deep pit of existential self torment. Over the past few years I’ve become a lot more aware of how my illness works and how it tries to incapacitate me. Hell, some days it’s almost like I can blend in with the rest of the human race without raising suspicion.
When it strikes though the mood can take me and swallow me whole in moments.
It becomes an emotional and mental break, everything around me becomes raw and overwhelming. I can feel my jaw grinding my teeth while my hands grip my coffee mug, the arms of a chair, the neck of my guitar, whatever they can do. It’s almost like you realising (wrongly) that you’re in some kind of immediate danger.
Depression brings with it it’s own bleak symptoms. A feeling of worthlessness. A questioning of your life and your achievements. It becomes a lie that drowns out any sensible reasonable arguments. It will hold you under until you start to weaken, until you start to give in to incessant demands. Like the sea, it can slowly erode you be constantly wearing away at you or it can crash over you like a tsunami, swallowing you whole and dragging you away to it’s depths.
Getting through it is hard. It takes it out of you, the constant fight leaves you drained. The negative energy overwhelms you, sucking every ounce of positivity out of you leaving you feeling drained. It’s damn hard to try and recover from it, no quick or easy solution. You find yourself chipping away at it, taking every opportunity to grasp any victory, no matter how small. Setbacks are crushing, all you can do is keep clawing away, desperately hoping that you’re making some kind of progress.
Then there’s the uncomfortable subject of suicide.
I’m going to be quite honest here and it may make for uncomfortable reading for people, especially those closest to me.
I originally tried to commit suicide in my late teens. A confused mess of thoughts and emotions, I was unsuccessful in my attempt. It wasn’t really a conscious decision to kill myself, it was more like a response to not wanting to exist any more. It’s not a cowardly or selfish action, it was simply just my way of trying to remove myself from the equation of life. Looking back at it now I can see the hurt and sadness I would have left in it’s wake.
Although that time has long past those thoughts occasionally rise to the surface of the murky depths of my depression. They’re something I’ve grown used to, their visits random and confusing. They seem to have a sole purpose of leaving me disoriented, and they succeed in that. It’s like a permanent reminder of living life with one foot already in my grave.
Every time they come they lay me low, I don’t feel the need to act upon them. It’s almost like I’ve come to respect them to a certain degree. I’m always mindful of the power that they can have over me, of how easy it is to succumb and give in. But I won’t, I can’t.
I’ll point out that I’m not writing this whilst currently inhabiting that frame of mind. Far from it, my mood is relatively good at the moment. But I know it can change at any point. Even though mentally I feel good at the moment it takes very little to break this fragile state of equilibrium. My balance can vanish any second now without warning.
It’s that feeling that frightens me the most, not the days lost to depression or the moments stolen by anxiety. I know they will pass. But that moment where it all breaks, that’s the feeling I’ve grown to fear the most.
Why do I fear it? I think it’s more that I know that, deep down inside of me, no matter what I do it will happen. To me, it’s inevitable, inescapable. It’s not a case of how it will happen but when. But I know I can fight it. It can’t lay me low enough that I will give in to it completely.
All I can do for now is keep one eye on the clock and watch time pass. Each second, each minute, each hour that passes is another victory. Another step further away from what I was, another step closer to what I could be. I know I’ll never be truly free from my illness but at least I can try and live with an understanding of what it can do to me.