This often feels like the most offensive question I’ve ever been asked and the most offensive part of the question is that it’s socially inappropriate for me to be offended, for me to be anything other than grateful for their well-meaning but ultimately useless and often condescending advice.
“Why don’t you just get up and do something fun?”
“Why don’t you just go do something productive?”
“Why don’t you just stop being depressed?”
Yeah, why don’t I? It’s so simple, why didn’t I think of that? Oh wait, that’s right, because it doesn’t work like that.
Just get up and do something fun…
…would probably be a really great idea if anything was actually fun anymore. If all of the appeal previously held by all the things I love hadn’t vanished like a thief in the night.
Case in point: I have this thing when I’m down where I compulsively download movies, seriously, I have thousands, although I’m not sure I’m really breaking any copyright laws because I don’t actually watch them. Any of them. I just sit and stare at my meticulously organised media folders (alphabetically by genre and then title), for hours sometimes.
Desperately searching for something, anything, that interests me in the slightest before ultimately closing my laptop and going back to bed to stare blankly at the whitewashed brick walls and try to convince myself that I’m strong enough to cry, to move, to shut my eyes and sleep, to do anything but sink deeper into this waking coma.
Go do something productive…
…they say to me, like that will be the tipping point to a happy and fulfilled life. I would love to, the house proud, domestic goddess in me that lives to exceed the 50’s stereotype is genuinely happy when my home is clean, the washing is neatly in the closet and there’s dinner in the oven.
I would love nothing more than to write another chapter in the dystopian universe I’ve spent half my adult life shaping into fictional existence, or to update my blog or to even just return a single missed call.
And I would, if only I didn’t have the energy levels of a stage 5 cancer patient and all the driving creative force of a rock. Not even a pet rock or a decorative stone but one of the little ones that gets stuck in your shoe and inspires nothing more than irritation and a loud bout of incendiary profanity.
So I’m told I should…
…just stop being depressed?
It’s easy, right? It’s not like it’s this sinister, inexorable force that winds inky tendrils of suffocating doubt and exhaustion around everything I thought I knew about myself. Sucking the colour from my vision, wrapping my brittle bones in lead and turning food to ash in my mouth.
The problem is that this is not a bad mood. This is not a crappy day. This is a neurological chemical imbalance. This is a physiological condition as much as it is a mental one, and yes, I’ll admit the symptoms aren’t so easy to understand and categorise as a body ravaged by decay or a severed spine but it is just as debilitatingly crippling.
Clawing at my will to live, stripping away everything from my self-esteem to my appetite. I haven’t slept but I’m not really awake either, my stomach is empty and it’s been days since I showered. The messages are piling up and there’s a fine layer of dust covering the paraphernalia of a life I’ve forgotten how to live.
Inside these walls it’s cool and dark and quiet as the grave and I start to wonder if this is what death feels like, if I just lay here will I eventually fade away to become one with the dust floating in the still air?
It’s been years since I considered suicide to be an option and I’m not considering it now. It will get better. I know that, I’ve done this before. It will get better and then worse and then better again, these are the seasons of my life, a seemingly endless phoenix cycle of self-destructive resurrection.
And I swear to God I’m trying, I really am. I’m working and fighting and failing and trying again and I will get better, but right now I’m not okay, not yet, maybe not even soon but one day. In the meantime, I’m not asking for help or sympathy or any number of things advocated by the well-meaning to support the unstable, I just want you to understand.