It’s not depression. Not really. Not according to the DSM-IV-TR. It would be so much easier that way. A convenient explanation, complete with pharmacological solution, for why you don’t do the things you love anymore, why you don’t do anything anymore. You come home from your going-nowhere temp job, you plop down on the couch or bed and that’s your night. You spend the whole day staring at one screen or another, watching other people live.
You fall into that rut, and it seems like you’ll never come out. Your parents call and say you don’t sound happy. Your friends, the ones you haven’t driven away with your rapid recession into some intolerable bore, wonder why they never see you anymore. Your girlfriend tries to tell you that you’re fucking up, but you can’t hear her, you’re so far up your own ass. Eventually, she will grow tired of your apathy, your inattention, and your petty arguments, and she will leave. You can’t even blame her.
It’s only once she’s gone that you realize just how much you’ve let yourself go. Not in the physical sense, although you probably packed on a few pounds with your pizza and power nap regimen, but the real you. The person your friends and lovers found themselves attracted to in the first place. You spend a lot of time crying. Chain-smoking. Forgetting to eat one day and gorging yourself the next. You wonder how you could have ever been such an idiot.
Before you can begin the journey back to yourself (as you’ve pompously termed it in your many Facebook status updates), you experience more mood swings than a menstrual schizophrenic on a roller coaster. You armchair-quarterback your entire relationship, and eventually every decision you’ve ever made. You get excited when your phone rings, but it’s not her. It never is, yet you keep falling for it, and you don’t even know the worst part: that pathetic, confused look you get on your face each and every time, like a dog shown a card trick. You start having nightmares about her fucking someone else, some rich, impossibly handsome guy with a dick that would make a horse stop and weep. She’s having the best sex in the history of humanity, and the show plays six times a day in your mental amphitheatre.
Finally, you delete her number, you hide the pictures, you box up the trinkets and tokens that used to mean something, but now seem ridiculous and grotesque. You write out a to-do list, like you used to as a kid, when you were so scatterbrained that you once walked out of the house in your underwear and didn’t realize it until you were halfway to school. You’re going to go back and finish your Masters. You’re going to write a novel. You’re going to quit smoking. You’re going to put together the greatest album of the decade, just you and your shitty Washburn acoustic. You’re going to get ripped like Stallone in Rocky IV. You’re going to do all this while becoming a billionaire rock-star astronaut and get so much pussy that your drained-dry balls shrivel and end up back inside of you.
For a day or two, you have all the energy in the world. Anger and hurt could replace oil, if we could only figure out how to process them into physical being. You feel great. And then you wake up the next morning, but it’s actually 3:30 in the goddamned afternoon. Everything hurts. You never even get out of bed.
The weeks slip by, and you manage to at least make some headway on more modest goals, like only smoking four or five cigs a day and not eating ice cream for dinner more than once or twice a month. You’re looking for a new job, but nothing’s turned up yet. You even meet a nice girl. Sure, you got introduced by a friend because you’re too much of a pussy to talk to a stranger, but you’re pretty sure you two hit it off. You’re not ready, not yet, and part of you still wishes you’d open the door to your mediocre apartment one morning and your ex would be standing there, metaphorical hat in hand. A rom-com moment. But you’re doing okay.
You feel like this time will be different.