Today I am considering an odd little sort of conundrum. I’m trying to decide what to write. Do I write about my past, the things that happened to me years ago that make me who I am? Or do I write about my relatively recent past, all those events that have transpired in the last 18 months that have changed the ultimate course of my life in a huge way? What is it that I really want to share, with whom and for what purpose? Does there need to be a purpose at all or am I merely doing this for the sake of putting my thoughts into something more coherent than the jumbled pile of things that roll over one another in my skull? What is the purpose I am trying to serve, the point I am trying to make, if there really even IS one? Or I am merely just trying to in some way catalog my experience that it may be useful to others?
Sometimes, to be honest, I am not really sure what my motivations for writing are. I often think about whether writing down past events is simply fruitless waste of time, something that prolongs and cements my failures and agonies. Is it perhaps a way of making my pain visible or, more likely, a way my depression seeks to remind me of all the ways in which I am not enough, have never been enough and am likely to not be in the future as well? I’m not sure, but I’ve come to learn that the mind likes to sort and order things and mine particularly seems to need to constantly have a puzzle to solve. Perhaps then my writing serves, for me, only the purpose of giving my mind and emotions space to exist together in a much more safe way. Rather than rolling the thoughts around in my head, where they are more likely to become real truths to me, putting them into writing gives me a chance at objectivity and time to review them and share them to check their accuracy.
It is an odd thing, to suffer from something as seemingly benign as depression. Outwardly, on most days, I appear to have a modicum of composure and what could be described as success. I have a decent job with a well established company that allows me a balance between work and my own interests. I shower, dress myself, feed myself and care for my dog and apartment in a modest way. I live (mostly) within my means. And yet there is this thing, a darkness that lurks just below the surface of my skin, that somehow taints how I see all of that and myself, painting it with a grey brush of indifference.
Some days my depression is such that it hardly seems to exist. I smile and belt out songs in my car at the top of my lungs during my commute. I take free moments to journal or draw. I feel inspired and soothed by the wind and the sound of it makes through the treetops. And yet, at other times, the very IDEA of having to look another human being in the eye and hold a conversation fills me with an almost palpable sense of dread. It seems an insurmountable challenge to swing my feet off of my bed and onto the floor, although there is no one here to witness or judge that action but my dog and I.
Why is it that this tiny act can seem so difficult? What is it about depression that makes me believe that I lack the will and the capacity to do the simplest of things? Moreover,what makes me BELIEVE that the thoughts that pass through my scurrying mind are even remotely the truth?
I wish I had a greater understanding of my mental illness, which has been given a few different names. I want to understand the science behind why my brain does what it does, to understand how the chemical soup around that great grey matter has the power to affect my entire perception of the world around me and what, if anything, can be done or replicated on a consistent enough basis for me to avoid its treacherous depths. And, moreover, I want to know that there are others who also suffer my affliction, that perhaps I am not the only person who experiences this in life. I want to know and I want to not feel alone.
Isn’t that, perhaps, what everyone really wants from life?