10 pm is a horrible time of night when you’re depressed. It seems to always coincide with falsely realizing what a shitty person you’ve become. About an hour earlier, the friends you have been slowly alienating asked you to go out, and you spouted some bullshit about a headache or getting to bed early because you’re starting “a new sleep routine” that apparently Jen Aniston swears by. Nobody even comments on you calling her Jen, or that you’re posting YouTube links on Facebook at 1:30 am nearly every night. Your friends, these beautiful humans, keep trying to reach you, like good humans do, and you can’t find even the strength to say, “Hey, I love you, but I do not feel up to going out.” So you do what depressed people do, you lie.
Lying is depression’s jackass sidekick, the one who thinks much more highly of themselves than they should, like James Spader or SoulCycle employees. If I had to cutesy up the situation, I’d throw in a Disney comparison and say depression is pretty similar to Jafar, this villainous, evil creature, but understandably respected in some sick way. But lying is Iago. An annoying coward you kind of want to punch in the face. Please don’t come after me PETA, I’d never harm a real parrot. Unless it also had a voice like Gilbert Gottfried.
But fast forward the clock to 10, regret inevitably sinks in about saying no, or eating that old fruit roll up you found in the pantry, but it’s too late. You’re already becoming the recluse hermit, being the flip-flopping-recluse hermit is one too many labels. What would you even say to those beautiful human-angel hybrids you call friends? “Hey! I’m incredibly lonely, and self-indulgent and keep sabotaging all glimmering moments to crawl out of this hole, please, I changed my mind. I want to come with you!” That’s not exactly an upper to start Friday night. And they’re already gone. They are out doing the things you said no to. And now, you are too awake to really go to bed, but writhing in too much self-pity to do anything productive. It’s a spiral of Bravo programming and texting unrequited crushes who profess time and time again, just how unrequited it is. This is just the shallowest snapshot of depression at 10 pm.
I was first diagnosed with depression at age twelve. Now, I wonder how much of that all encompassing doom and gloom was the beginning stages of my depression, or actually just puberty. High school is often thought of as this horrible wasteland of bullying and low self-esteem, but it’s nothing compared to middle school. In 6th grade, I was absolutely sure life was a bleak, never-ending cycle of waking up and going to sleep and hating every second in between. My parents claimed I had a flair for the dramatics, but they obviously had no idea what they were talking about. What’s dramatic about analyzing Emily Dickinson poems in my dark, cave of a bedroom and agreeing with every neurotic Woody Allen quote I could find about death? Death is always the white elephant in the room with depressed people. And there you have the most morbid of codependent trios: depression, lying, and death.
It has always been a battle, with victories that lasted years, and losses that knocked every bit of life out of me. That’s the thing about depression, you don’t want it to define you, but in a sense, it is you. It’s part of you, and I think we can often drive ourselves nuts trying to separate ourselves from it. This doesn’t mean it wins. This doesn’t mean 10 pm, when you physically ache for no true reason you can vocalize to your friends, that your depression has won the war. Your depression does not get to win the war. Do you hear me? Repeat those words: My depression does not get to win the war.
It is a struggle that I have still not ever found the proper words to explain, the way it feels to walk around with skin covering a black hole inside. But I do not believe your depression is trying to destroy you. It could. It so easily could, but that is not its purpose. Your depression is you, but YOU are not your depression. Recognize the difference, and search for ways to love yourself fully. All of you.
At 10 pm, when you have lied to loved ones, when you have danced with the thought of death until you feel drunk on your own mortality, when you spit venom at the mirror, cursing this part of you. This part of you that you never asked for. This part people do not understand, do not want to understand. This is the most important moment for you to remember, your depression does not get to win the war.
Your depression does not get to win the war. Instead, imagine you are fighting side by side. You are one team. And you will not be defeated.