Stare at the ceiling. Think of nothing. It’s the middle of the afternoon, and the gray clouds drifting across the sky seem more alive than you, your chest filling itself, emptying itself. It’s the middle of the night, and there are no stars, you are wide awake beneath closed eyes, trying to block out the darkness. It’s the middle of the dawn, and you think that maybe the sun won’t come out today, not fully, you can’t remember the last truly sunny day. The time doesn’t matter. It’s always the middle, because you can’t remember when it began. You can’t remember the last time you felt happy. You can’t remember feeling anything, can’t imagine you could ever feel anything. It’s always the middle, because you haven’t reached the end.
Quietly contemplate death. Stare at the objects in the room, pretend you’re studying them. Hide your true thoughts as if someone were watching you. Glance at the topic of suicide indirectly, in brief spurts, as if someone were listening. Around others, avoid speaking altogether, afraid of the taboo thoughts seeping out uncontrollably, like a child who has soiled himself. Avoid eye contact — it is often more telling than words. Avoid all contact. Realize that human beings are inherently self-absorbed, selfish, everyone is too wrapped up in themselves. No one cares about you. You don’t care about them.
Your phone rings and you let it. You haven’t checked your voicemail in weeks — something about having to listen to the voices, the empty chatter, the note of concern — it requires too much energy, too much effort. Reading text messages saps you of any energy you might have to respond to them. You’re not ignoring people, you just can’t answer them. The less you respond, the less they ask, the less they try. Eventually they stop trying. This makes things easier for you, it gives you more time to dwell, to get lost in the hollows of your mind. Tell yourself it’s all right to lie down so much, you need the rest. You’re always exhausted.
Don’t eat. More than your faults, more than your inadequacies, more than your regrets, hate your body. Hate your face, hate your skin, hate your very bones, as it becomes obvious that they are supporting you. Whenever you eat, the food drops into your stomach and settles like a tumor, more substantial than your entire body, it weighs you down and you feel so full you’re almost sick. Almost. Nothing is wrong with you, you’re just tired, you tell others. Nothing is wrong with you, so you wonder what’s wrong with you.
You’re not sad all the time. You catch yourself laughing with friends, spending time with them and enjoying yourself. You catch up on work. You fold your laundry. Most of the time, you’re fine. Until you’re not. The dullness leeches all your vitality and again you wither, shrivel, lie. In bed you stare at the ceiling, wonder how dust can float without wind, without air. It must be the same force that raises your lungs, fighting with gravity which pushes them back down.
You’ve read about depression. You know you probably have it, but you don’t believe in it. Not enough serotonin, they say, you have a deficiency. You’re broken. Maybe meds would fix you but most of the time you’re fine. You can handle it, you tell yourself. You’re fine, except when you’re not. You stare at the clouds. You eat green vegetables. You exercise. You do everything right, you try so hard to have things be all right. Watch the horizon for any signs of danger, of trouble sleeping, of too much sleep, of silence. Interrogate yourself when you slip up — what have you been eating are you getting out enough get up and do something — and force yourself to be happy. Seek out people. Do your work. Clean up your room, clean up your act. Sometimes this works. Most of the time, you’re fine.