I had no idea what was happening to me. I had no map in dealing with whatever was plaguing my mentality. I didn’t know where I was going, I just knew I was going south. I figured whatever it was would go away soon enough, so I did nothing. It didn’t go away.
I spent the bulk of my days lying in bed until my mattress became indented in the center. I soundtracked this indolence with playlist chalked full of Kid Cudi and Elliot Smith dirges. I smoked bunk weed and binge-watched TV series’ multiple times over instead of honoring social engagements. I stuffed myself with high fructose corn syrup and other ingredients with scientific names and questionable nutritional value. I hid out in figurative closets, dimly lit dive bars and under unwashed duvet covers. I masturbated like I was sponsored. I felt myself getting irritated and rustled easily. I felt like my friends were a cause of my mindset and began searching for reasons to cut them off one by one until my social circle consisted of me and the four corners I imprisoned myself into. My addled mind told me they were against me and I rationalized my actions as my twisted perceptions became realities. Alienating them became the first thing I was successful at in a long time.
The pain alleviated briefly. I convinced myself that the bad memories pilling up in my decaying hometown weren’t helping and that I just needed a new setting, so I impulsively decided to quit my job and move 3,000 miles across the country. After 24 hours of driving, I parked my car in a random apartment complex in El Paso, Texas and cried in the backseat. I carried whatever was sullying my soul with me to Los Angeles.
I fell back into the same habits that maimed me back home. I got another job that I hated. I bought another mattress that I’d spend days stuck on until it began to sag too. I found myself drinking more than usual. I felt pains in my side and hoped it was cancer. I drank until I became interesting and met new people. We became allies in destructive dependency and late-night depravity. I blacked out on benzos in seedy bars. I had coked up heart palpitations in LED lit nightclubs. I popped molly and made out with strangers in underground warehouse parties. I was always hungover or coming down. I spent nights participating in wanton sport-fucking and mornings sitting in clinical waiting rooms with a curable souvenir. I inhaled amyl nitrite until my lips and nails turned blue and swallowed doxycycline until my dick stopped burning when I pissed. I necked Tramadol, parachuted Norcos, cold water extracted Percocets and snorted Roxicodone until I could hardly breathe out of my nostrils. I was always tripping over empty boxes Benadryl and bottles of white grapefruit juice. All of this made me feel better until it didn’t. I was paying damn near two bucks an mg. All of this made me feel better until I could no longer afford it. I tried to quit, but it wasn’t that easy. My sweat was sweating. My bones felt like they’d been shattered with a sledgehammer. I felt like a walking corpse. I lost my thoughts to psychosis. I popped Imodium pills that didn’t help. I felt like dying. I withdrew by myself on an air mattress that sunk to the floor a few hours after being blown up.
I let those friendships fade. I kept my distance until the relationships dissolved. My addled mind told me that they were against me. I became selfish. See also: self-involved, self-loathing, self-defeating, self-deprecating, self-destructing, self-sabotaging, self-vectoring, self-harm, and self-pity.
I spent hours scouring through depression reddits and reading articles. I realized that depression wasn’t that feeling you got after failing a test you studied hard for or watching your favorite team lose. I tried to correct the chemical imbalance. I ate salmon, avocados, and Brazilian nuts to improve the amount of omega-3 fatty acid, folic acid, and selenium in my diet. I took tumeric circumin, ginkgo biloba, and l-theanine supplements to enhance the dopamine in my brain. I popped B vitamins, ZMA, St. John’s Worts and SAM-e pills to no avail. I stood out in the sun for proper vitamin D synthetization. I logged weeks doing fundamentally sound push-ups. I bought a Perfect Pullup and resistance bands. I worked out for more than 21 days and still couldn’t create a habit. I read self-help books. I’d re-read them because I kept spacing out. I stared at myself in the mirror, giving myself boilerplate positive affirmations.
I sat cross-legged and attempted to meditate, trying to focus on my breath flowing through my Svadhisthana chakra, but straying into thoughts about cheeseburgers and Looney Tunes. I rearranged my bedroom, hoping to eliminate the negative ions in my life. I lit smudge sticks and placed selenite crystals and Himalayan salt lamps around my abode. I participated in early morning Runyon Canyon hikes, mid-day apartment pacing, and late-night sodium vapor lit walks. I attempted to quit masturbating and even thinking about sex period, but that just made me feel even worse. In a last-ditch effort, I prayed until my knees were bloody and bruised. I taped scriptures above my desk. I lit Virgen de Guadalupe, Ecce-Homo Gran Poder, and Siete Potencias Africanas candles until they burned out.
I swallowed a handful of pills and washed it down with vodka hoping to end it one day, but I guess my hearse caught a flat on the highway to hell because instead, I woke up 24 hours later feeling better than I had in a long time.
I met a guy that I loved more than I’ll ever love any man again in my life. I had a nice streak where I didn’t have my typical ups and downs or crazy mood swings. Things were going good…too good. I decided to end the relationship before I got blindsided and he had a chance to cause me harm first. I was creating chaos where there was none and getting mad about things that hadn’t even happened.
I moved back home and fell back into my depressive habits. I had a hard time even looking strangers in the face because I felt like they could see my anxiety and would feel embarrassed by it. I tried to reconnect with my high school friends. I got drunk and tried to talk to them about it until they shot off weird looks at me for letting my feelings fly unfettered. I was told to “man up” and “get over it.” I was reminded that there are people that won’t be waking up today, so I guess my feelings were invalid. I was a burden and pending wreak and they couldn’t understand the severity of it. I ghosted them for a year until they got the message.
I white knuckled it. I became detached. I heard that most people used this illness to scratch out a masterpiece. I got a job with insurance and set up an appointment with a doctor. I hopped into the world of prescription medication through a passionless doctor with a penchant for palliative remedies who barely listened to me while I was shooting off a list of symptoms. I went on medication roulette. I took Cymbalta which killed my creativity, Zoloft which made my dick useless, and Lexapro that electrocuted my brain occasionally. I tried to talk to a therapist but saw through the entire thing and blew it off two meetings in.
Defeated, I accepted that this was just my fate and told myself, “I must’ve had a hell of a past life.” I became more comfortable in my isolation. I became more familiar with my illness. I fed into it. Feeling out of place became normal. I was convinced that I’d just grow older, catch cirrhosis, and die alone.
And then, it seemingly just stopped. I was moderating mids like I usually do during more emotionally prosperous periods when a depressive episode ends, and never really dipped back into the red. I’m still not sure if everything I did to try to deal with the psych ache actually aided in my recovery, or if circumnavigating the issue altogether forced it to not become the most important force in my life. When I became content with how things were going to be, they stopped having control over who I was, or at least who I thought I was. Old tendencies die hard, and at times, I slip back into depressive mode out of a force of habit. But now, I’m better equipped to pull myself out of the dregs.
As tough as it was, I’d even say I was grateful for it. It gave me a different perspective on life. It gave me empathy. It gave me understanding. I pulled myself out of the inferno and the stars shined brighter than they ever have before.