It’s hard to explain to neurotypical people what depression is like. They hear about it, but because “depressed” is used for a wide range of concepts, from general sadness to suicidal ideation, people rarely know what I mean.
My depression is not stemming from trauma. It doesn’t have a specific trigger. It just is. Regardless of what the spiritual leaders in my young life believed, I couldn’t pray it away. Regardless of what coaches believed, I couldn’t play it away. I couldn’t write it away.
The best song to describe my relationship with depression is actually Cranes in the Sky, by Solange Knowles. I owe her a lot for putting how I feel into words.
I tried to drink it away
I tried to put one in the air
I tried to dance it away
I tried to change it with my hair
I ran my credit card bill up
Thought a new dress would make it better
I tried to work it away
But that just made me even sadder
I tried to keep myself busy
I ran around in circles
Think I made myself dizzy
I slept it away, I sexed it away
I read it away…
It just comes. And when it’s here… well. Do you remember this Pixar short?
The little bird is trying to outswim the waves, and gets pummeled. Eventually, a hermit crab teaches it to lay low and let the waves roll over him. Then, once they recede, the bird can go about its business.
That’s me. I’m the little bird driving myself nuts trying to fight off a wave of depression, until someone (usually Zayn Singh) can convince me to just wait for it to pass.
Well, now it’s passed. This one only took about two months of my life away from me. I sleep at night, I smile in the morning. I talk to people. I feel things — yes, sometimes scary things, but also happiness, excitement. I’ve missed all of this.
At least, that’s how I felt the first four days. Now, I’ve settled into a frantic routine, trying to produce as much as I can and please as many people as I can. I’m writing, at the gym, working as much as I can. All the while, there is an undercurrent of anxious energy haunting every step I take. It comes from the ever-pernicious question:
When will the next episode be?
I just hope it’s when I’m at home, on my own schedule. Not when I need to perform at basketball tryouts, impress new professors on the first day of school, or interact with my future in-laws. I hope I’m somewhere safe. I hope it comes and goes soon.
But I can’t push back the wave, however inconvenient. I can only run while the tide is out, and huddle when it breaks over my head. I can only keep writing, and hope I have enough material to last me when I can’t write at all.