“Inside the pit of my stomach, a feeling, like being trapped in one of those dreams where your teeth are falling out of your mouth. Or you are losing your hair. And you can’t make it stop.”
The following are entries on the experience of depression from an anonymous blog titled Musings.
-Mark Greene, Editor
Introduction to Alone—One Point One
Behind me, the sliding doors meet. The lock softly clicks shut. The first thing I notice is the floor. Clean, polished, oak-colored hardwood. Like a living room. Why? A trick to make it feel—what?—more comfortable More…homey?
Not so much.
Neon lights bathe the long corridor in a weak antiseptic glow. And it smells like hospital: acrid sickness masked with disinfectant. On my left is a sitting room. A group of patients sit quietly around a TV. Silently staring. The disembodied voices from the television—some mind-numbing reality show about a tattoo parlor – were the only sound.
It was the most off-putting and oddly anti-social feeling I’ve ever had walking into a room filled with people.
Introduction to Alone—One Point Two
A slight girl with stick-straight blond hair and friendly blue eyes looks up as if to say something, but then jerks forward off the couch, and takes off running towards the bathroom. Retching. A blur of Umbros and Minnie Mouse slippers, pitter-patter down the hall. More retching. A door slams.
Murmuring from the crowd, to no one in particular:
“Did she make it?”
“I think she made it.”
More like a background buzz.
She returns, shuffling slowly, looking frailer and slighter still, both hands holding her stomach.
“I just made it that time,” she says, smiling weakly.
That girl. Her name is Jennifer. She’s a recovering heroine and cocaine addict, who was physically abused as a child, and now suffers from horrible flashbacks that trigger deep depressions. She has a carefree, easy-going smile. And she is an excellent Ping-Pong player.
Introduction to Alone—One Point Three
They had given me a mauve colored plastic washbasin with a toothbrush, toothpaste, a small bottle of mouthwash, and a travel size bottle of Johnson & Johnson’s Body Wash. “No Tears.” Naturally.
I push the door open to my room. The first bed is empty. In the second bed lies a tall muscular black man. Covered in blankets and green hospital scrubs. His feet dangle off the bed. The sheets he had cocooned himself with framed his face, and a tattoo of a long-stemmed black rose on his left cheek. He was sleeping.
Eyes open. Staring at me without seeing me. They close. More sleeping. Mostly sleeping. All day.
In between sleeping, Ben told me that he lived with his mom, who suffered from dementia. That he had lost his job. That the power company turned off their electricity last week. “I tried to hang myself while I was in prison,” he said. “It didn’t work.” “So now. I’m here.”
What’s my story? Inside my head, I scream: “I don’t belong here!” But don’t I?
Ben looks up. “We have so much in common,” he says quietly. And then he smiled. And then he stopped smiling.
Introduction to Alone—Two Point Oh.
The “rec room” is unlocked for one hour in the morning and for one hour and fifteen minutes in the afternoon.
One exercise bike.
A Nintendo Wii.
A desktop computer.
A Ping-Pong table.
A set of interlocking small tables, with arts and crafts supplies.
During “rec time,” the TV and phones are turned off, and the kitchen is locked. So there is no choice:
“Let there be recreation!”
“Go forth and recreate.”
The radio from the boombox blares “Captain Jack.” The irony of the musical selection is not lost on the patients.
Introduction to Alone—Two Point Two
I try to read my book. Or a magazine. But despite the hours of free unclaimed time, I can’t quiet my mind sufficiently to be able to read. I take my book from my room, down the hall, to the TV room. And three magazines. I sit. I rise. I walk back down the hall to my room, and lie on my bed. That feeling—pacing—ripples through me. My hands are shaking.
I lie back down in bed. Staring. I can’t sleep.
Ben snores loudly.
Introduction to Alone—Three Point Oh
I’m in the bathroom. Terrified and trembling, awash with the feeling that I am literally
That I have lost—no—been abandoned by, my own self. Inside the pit of my stomach, a feeling like being trapped in one of those dreams where your teeth are falling out of your mouth. Or you are losing your hair. And you can’t make it stop.
Gripping the sides of the sink, I look up at the mirror. Ugliness reflects back at me.
In the not-too-distant past, I was one of those people that believed that there is no such thing as depression. That everyone gets sad. That it was a cop out. A sign of weakness, by those who can’t cope.
I was wrong. As I experienced, its real. Very real.
Over a period of months, I became absolutely paralyzed. Every day was too much. Everything shut down.
I couldn’t write. And I couldn’t think, except for the cycling fears and the anxieties. I wouldn’t interact with those around me. I didn’t want to be around anymore.
This piece was written in an attempt to share the feelings and thoughts I had during this period, the lowest period of my life, the nadir (or perhaps the culmination?) of my battle with depression.
And as I think about it today, “battle” may be the wrong word. Because I’m not sure it’s is something you win or lose.
But, on the other hand, maybe “battle” is precisely the right word.
Maybe surviving is winning.
Maybe being able to share this story with others is winning.
Because I did survive.
Though I didn’t see how, I did reach somewhere deep inside and returned from that deep darkness, that place of self-hatred where everything seemed pointless.
Today, I look back, and I draw great strength and solace from that.
To read more by the author go to: Musings.