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[ Personal Narratives ]

Beyond the Bottle #9: Depression

Oof. It’s been awhile since I’ve written one of these but I’m happily enjoying a lazy Saturday and feel like sharing. Today, I am happy. But that wasn’t (and isn’t) always the case. Depression and alcoholism I think go hand in hand. I haven’t bothered researching any psychological data to support that claim here, I have enough life experience to tell you it’s my truth. The worse I felt, the more I drank hoping to ease the pain when in actuality, I only created more pain. Much more pain. Alcohol is a depressant. That fact is lost on so many of us. It was certainly lost on me.

I want to be clear about something: it’s not that as a non-drinker today, I’m not susceptible to depression, I most certainly am. I still have days where I can’t get out of bed, don’t feel like eating or pursuing anything worthwhile. The difference today is that I don’t stay in that place or mindset as long and it’s less crippling. I can still function in my life even when I’m depressed because i’m not wallowing in self-pity in addition to managing hangovers, etc.

It’s easy to see in the clear light of day, just how easy to look back on depression and breath a sigh of relief. The dark days are over, the black cloud has lifted. So instead I’d like to share directly from that dark place, just a few years ago. Maybe that will help illuminate how deep things go and how dark things get beneath the bottle. The hope? Even on my worst days today, I never feel this low and i’m incredibly grateful for that.

December 2, 2010.

Dark, Adequate Endings.

Those who laugh the loudest often cry the hardest. Fitting isn’t it, because really, happiness is just an illusion. In between dispensing fits of hearty chuckles and uncontrollable tears, the seesaw of emotion tips towards the bottomless pit of depression. So it is in life, this one anyway, the doom always finds a way to win out. There is no hero in this story, the shining armor got lost in transit; the knight forgot to save the date. So the tale goes, a series of limitless mishaps, weaving and binding an incompatible life.

When that inevitable darkness surfaces, the jokes become harder to stomach, the smiles harder to fake. The carefree joy, the caricature of your true self is actually an elaborate pantomime, rising and falling at the beck and call, out of sheer necessity. The need to act accordingly, to mesh and blend — to act normal, for to show up as you, would in fact frighten others. It’s in the eyes though. A certain shimmer fades. The light has gone out.

It wasn’t always this way, but life changes. For better or worse, people change — they harden. Still, their very existence, their fickle natured beings are at the core, brittle — fragile. Easily breakable. The tipping point is different for each, but everyone has a limit. Technically, the threshold limit value is defined as the average concentration of toxic gas to which the normal person can be exposed. In layman’s terms, it’s the fucking breaking point.

I can’t say for sure but I think I’m on a crash collision course with mine. Something is on the verge of happening. My head isn’t in the right space. It’s not making any attempt to get to where it needs to be either. And I know I’m in the driver’s seat, but what’s perceived versus implicated in my mind is becoming undelineable.

I’ve thought about death plenty recently, more than is expected, more than normal. Not an epiphany by any means, this has been a gradual build, several years’ worth of frustration, an accumulation, teeming towards the brink — of what? I do not know. I need a release. This isn’t even a what-if rhetoric, no back and forth discourse, no weighing of options, just heavy, heavy thoughts. They are burdensome, they make the day long, this thought of genuinely wanting to expire. I sometimes wonder if i’m alone in this dark space of if others walk around it as well. All of us, comfortable traipsing about in our shrouded gardens of thought. I wonder if it’s normal. There is no answer. I can’t think about an answer either. It just is, an element of my life that will never go away.

I can’t explain it. It’s not black and white. It doesn’t just swoop in overnight. It festers. It crawls and creeps in, wakes you from your sleep in the middle of the night. Just pounding. A constant drone of questions. What would have? What could have been? Why? Just questions. No solutions. So many things could and should have happened differently but did not. Is that in itself not maddening? I’m over antidepressants. I played far too many hands in that card game. It was equally maddening. The inability to feel. The lack of emotion. At the core, humans are meant to feel things. Feel angry, feel sad, feel mad, feel happy. Antidepressants make you indifferent to feeling, period. They are not the solution. Correction, they are not my solution, they were in fact part of the problem, having only contributed to the imbalance in my brain.

I am a shit show on two legs, spiraling out of control. Everything I wanted for myself, for this life has yet to pass. I am in a constant state of regression, where most would only see progress. It’s frustrating, and frustrating the life out of me — quite literally. Where to go? What to do? A thousand questions and one person to run point, find an answer, a map, a solution, a direction. It’s tiring. The thought of it all. The thought of what could have been, what should have been and what still might, or more likely, might not be. It’s exhaustive. The outs, the options the contemplative nature of life isn’t meant for people like me. Things are either supposed to happen, or they’re not. Cut and dry. Clean and simple, never complex.

This began I suspect, as a small seed, planted some time before now — a long time ago in fact. That small trickle, the drips of a running tap, long gone unattended has now grown into a full drone, the sink is full. Full of sadness and from where? It just crept in? Why? I look back in the pages of my journal and wonder if I’ve forgotten who I am. I can’t tell anymore, it all runs together.

Suddenly you find yourself walking down the street weighing your options, is that bus going fast enough, is that idiot texting and driving? It becomes very grim, exploring means to an adequate end, sufficient destruction. You’ve contemplated pill-popping and vodka but gosh, that’s so antiquated, so 90’s, so Girl Interrupted. You’ve thought of razors but that’s never really worked. It’s a mess.

Everything is a struggle and simultaneously effortless. A fight for death but then not to die today. A prolonging of the inevitable it would seem. I know brains shouldn’t function, shouldn’t rationalize in this way, but mine does. I will thank my chemical imbalance for that. Still the noise grows louder, more convincing. Drunk nights blur together as the bottles empty so do the tear ducts. Crying for everything. Crying for nothing at all. Is this life? Is this how it was written? For me? As much as I want to hope not, I can’t imagine that it’s this pointless. There is no real discernible objective, was there ever one to begin with?

I can’t really remember, but I think I used to think it was promising. The world was my oyster, that whole sing-song, it’s a lie. Useless, self-sustaining propaganda. My purpose is diminishing, as am I, now a mutation of my former self, reduced to whatever category classified above the hollow shell of nothing. There is nothing. I am stripped bare. I’d like to shout out…come, come and see what I have done…still nothing. A person with barren walls. Reduced to daily repetitions, a dull symphony of actions, the band played off ages ago.

Apologies are too little too late. The foundations beneath those words are now rubble. Sorry cannot, nor will it ever mend what was, what is and what will never be. But if it soothes your conscience, I guess it has served a purpose. For me, the light at the end of the tunnel will ease mine. It’s still comforting to know what was — the love, the hate, the tainted memories, can always be erased, with an adequate ending.