I often think about how to me morning and mourning are the same. What I mean to say is that the sun rises and somehow it hurts more than when I’m laying in the dark. What I really mean is that depression sometimes means waking up afraid of simply living – of just being.
If I didn’t have depression I wouldn’t find solace in darkness.
In that safe place where everything is equally familiar in heartbreak and in emptiness. In that space where it’s all blue, and all bruise, but all too comfortable. I wouldn’t stay up half the night because right now it’s better because right now is not tomorrow.
Without depression, my world would consist a lot less of thinking in terms of exit signs. I wouldn’t do all the things I do just to escape myself, escape the aching, the even more petrifying nothingness. There wouldn’t be those moments where I have felt like my heart has left my body and taken everything with it, times where I’ve had to search for any kind of burning to put back any kind of feeling into this shell of a body.
If I didn’t have depression I wouldn’t do things like paint myself to look more alive in crimson shades of lipstick, put on a short skirt to go out on the wrong side of town with a stomach full of bad intentions.
I wouldn’t welcome the burning of each tequila shot, vodka water wouldn’t taste like honey on my tongue, I wouldn’t come to it with the after taste of the wrong lips.
But then there’s those days and those nights, the kind where I feel full, the nights that are so plentiful and rich in pretty things, the kind that makes me stop for a second and wonder if the feeling is real, the kind that scares me because in that moment I feel so alive. Without depression, I wouldn’t stop in the middle of dancing and retreat back into my mind and wonder what happens when I wake up tomorrow?
In a world without depression, I would probably take a second look at the cute guy staring at me from across the room. I wouldn’t wait, I’d offer him a drink. I wouldn’t think twice about going on a date because my mind wouldn’t scream what’s the point. If I didn’t have depression I also would have a finer taste in men.
In a world without depression, I wouldn’t be a master of pretending. The simplest of things wouldn’t exhaust me.
If I didn’t have depression I wouldn’t go through those weeks where I avoid human contact at all costs. I wouldn’t be skilled in lies like, I can’t make it, I have this family thing, as I sit in my bed in my underwear binge-watching anything that can take me away from this hell, the laundry piling up in the darkest corner of the room, wine stained glasses on my nightstand, eating the same thing I had delivered yesterday.
If I didn’t have depression I wouldn’t be familiar with the best brands of dry shampoo, because to wash my hair sometimes just takes everything out of me.
And each time I step into the shower on the dark days it almost becomes a ritual, the thinking water could cleanse me, the thinking it could wash away the layers and layers of whatever darkness seduced me and did a number on me. I wouldn’t take baths and think about the days I put my head beneath bubbles and didn’t think about disappearing.
I wouldn’t be writing poetry more like would-be goodbye letters and stuffing them into my coffin.
Without depression, I probably would write more about beautiful things. Like the way, each person’s laughter is kind of like their own unique fingerprint, the way it can be so easy to fall in love with it.
About that feeling, you get when you’re laying outside in the sun and you can almost feel some kind of light, some kind of magic shooting into your body. I’d write poetry about how I’ve never felt more connected with the universe than when I’m looking at the stars, about how when we look at them we are looking back at ourselves in some other time, about how we’re here but we’re up there, about how each of our atoms came from them.
I’d write more as if my veins were full of light because I’d be more familiar with the color of the shimmer of water during the day. I’d write more about the way the sun dances on my skin and on that beautiful girl’s hair than about the color of my bathroom tiles. I’d write about that night I danced with one of my best friends in the rain at 3 AM, about how right life felt then, I wouldn’t have written about how much I wanted to hold on to that feeling, about how I would miss it. My poetry would smell more like peach season because softness would be interwoven in it. I’d write about that first-kiss ecstasy because I’d be more open to letting anyone get close to me.
I wouldn’t want these things as much as I do right now. Not to owe anything to this disease, but I probably wouldn’t yearn for all the small but important things in life. I probably wouldn’t be embarking on a journey to find them. I don’t want to owe anything to this parasite, or thank it for anything, but I often wonder if I’d be the same, or as self-aware. All I know it’s that it’s not who I am, it’s just a thing. And it may come and it may go, it may always be not far from shore, but I’m stronger than it, and this land is strictly under my name. Every day I learn how to manage it, how to beat it, how to not let it steal and keep any part of me.
In a world without depression, I wouldn’t be learning how to write about beautiful things.