I spent Monday, June 12, 2017 on the floor of the hallway of my apartment. I didn’t make it from the bedroom to the kitchen in the morning. The world collapsed halfway. In fact, it stayed in rubble for two more days. Twice I made it to the bathroom and the pantry and back to my spot on the floor of the hallway of my apartment. Eventually, I was able to launch my own search-and-rescue mission. My name is Alexey Timbul and I am one in a legion of those who suffer from depression.
Suffer is a misleading turn of phrase. It implies cognitive and emotional awareness of a process one finds themselves in. To suffer, one must recognize the abnormality of an experience inflicted upon one’s reality. Depression robs you (me) of just that. I’ve read books on it. I’ve had a therapist whose guidance had been lifesaving. I wrestle with triggers. And still… if I’d ever get off that hallway floor, I thought, I should try something different. I should break the silence. I should make my depression suffer.
Here are five things I’ve learned about my depression. Sometimes it’s quicksand made up of paper cuts and you’re sinking, slow-mo; sometimes it’s trapdoors and boom … the light at the end of a tunnel is now at the top of a well (that’s being filled with quicksand made up of paper cuts). Sometimes you brave these elements one at a time; sometimes you’re caught in a perfect storm. Should you relate to any of them, I’d love to hear from you. While depression thrives on the mantra of exceptionalism (you’re the only one like this), it also excels at erasure of individuality (you’re nothing but everyone else). If there is any healing, its waters spring from the middle ground. Meet me there.
1. My depression is ahistorical: it dissolves all cause-consequence connections.
Why hadn’t I built a career in anything? Does this drink, pizza slice, hookup count? Nothings adds up to anything. Chaos theory at least has a theory. My day(s) and task(s) lack cohesion and meaning. I struggle with plans, outlooks and consistency. My life is a grotesque pastiche of isolated incidents. It all amounts to nothing. Hashtag, no echo.
2. My depression is addicted to mourning: it prizes loss above all.
The chances I treasure the most are the ones I missed. Oh, the people, places and things I didn’t and won’t experience fully. My middle name is Almost. Why risk any other emotions and flavors when there is intoxicating certainty in the comfort of bittersweet? I’d rather miss the promise than savor the memory. This isn’t the wisdom of this-too-shall-pass, this is wanton sabotage.
3. My depression is a dreamnazi: its exaltation of perfectionism is a front for annihilation.
If you gonna do it, you gotta do it right. Do you really truly believe this is the best you can do? Couldn’t you have done it at least a little bit better? Then why’d you have done it differently?! You shouldn’t be doing anything unless and until you can do everything, brilliantly. Now let’s move on to your next “good” idea, shall we? The goal of Nazism is Nazism. The end game of depression is depression. No encouragement required.
4. My depression is a disembowelment enthusiast: it guts and drains corporeal wisdom.
Why give a f*ck if I am fat, fit, fine? How is anything supposed to look, feel or function properly, in this body, at this st(age)? My psychosomatic hypochondria has made it nearly impossible to trust any internal communication. Cacophony-a-cappella. What’s hunger got to do with eating? There is no headache liquor can’t cure. Don’t you need muscles to have muscle tension? Binge or purge, same aftertaste: deceit.
5. My depression is a joy-less-ness fetishist: it gets off on feeling nothing.
This was probably an early coping mechanism. This probably saved my ass. And it’s the thing killing me the most. The necessitated emotional distancing morphed into demon-grade pride in non-attachment which then monster-ed into a full-blown deity wielding vacuum on all senses. Spice of life?! No one has ever succeeded in soliciting an honest adjective from me in response to the question of how am I feeling. Least of all, me.
I am lucky. I know (now) I am not a lone fog wanderer. This match is 90 years long with no halftime. Team is what you make of it. I’m recruiting myself first to get off the sidelines. Storytelling is the only way the worlds are (un)made. Henceforth, I commit to cultivating and sharing experiences that expose my depression for what it is: a five star liar.
Greetings off the floor, Alexey