My First Experience with “Real” Depression

This is a short story out of what will eventually, hopefully be a novel. It’s a story of a friendship in need of saving. It’s mostly true with made up elements, but that’s true of most of my stories.
I call this:

MY FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH “REAL” DEPRESSION

I always said I had anxiety coupled with depression. They were comorbid disorders so it wasn’t a surprise that most people who suffered from one suffered from the other. Being sad all the time can cause you to be afraid and being afraid all the time can sure as hell cause you to feel sad. I think that’s as simplistic as I can make these two disorders sound to those who have never suffered. For me, and for a lot of others, it went even beyond that. I had depression, I had mild OCD, and even my anxiety couldn’t be easily categorized: it could be social, it could be health related, it could be general anxiety, or it could be full out panic disorder. I had a little bit of everything, I had felt a little bit of everything, but I will never forget the first time I felt true, real, complete, and faultless depression. Sure, I had felt sad for no reason before, but the first time I felt true depression, I felt it in every single crevice of my soul, and that day I’ll never forget.

I had decided I didn’t want to be on medication anymore, that’s how it started. I was sick of the side effects and sick of how they were making me feel. I had been on them for ten years and I was ready to prove to myself and everyone else that I didn’t need them to survive. I went off them in the late spring, and within weeks my whole world was completely crumbling. It started out as a stomach ache, it always does. Then came the brain zaps (as Wikipedia calls them, anyways), which is a nice way of putting the never ending feeling of dizziness that I felt, as though the whole world was spinning under my feet. That brought more nausea, and with that came the fear. But to be honest, I had felt all this before, I even thought I could handle it. I thought “If I just get through a couple more weeks of this withdrawal, I will have made it off this damned medication”, but I was wrong, because soon it got much worse. Alexander was gone on a business trip for two weeks and I was home alone. The first night it hit, I immediately called him, he was three hours behind and just about to eat dinner. I could tell from the first hello that he had little patience for my panic attacks because they had grown so frequent and I could tell too that he wanted to get off the phone. I was bawling, but he was so used to this state of mine that it didn’t phase him. I let him off the hook and called my mother. But she had grown weary also. It seemed everyone had grown tired of my flights of panic and were starting to view me as the girl who cried wolf. To me, it felt as though if I could just put into words what I was feeling, everyone would know how to make it stop, maybe I could even make it stop. It felt as if I could just use the right string of words, someone would understand me. Unfortunately, I never found those words and with no one else to call to talk me through my panic, I succumbed to it completely. I wallowed, I cried, and I curled into a ball and had a fit of completely pure panic. I had never felt so afraid in all my life, and coming from me, that means a lot.

Eventually, after what felt like days but in reality had been no more than an hour, I stopped crying. Not because I wanted too, but because my body could not provide another tear from my drained ducts. I had, for the first time ever, cried myself completely dry. The panic didn’t go away, instead it lingered in the background as the depression started to creep up. At this point I was so afraid I couldn’t differentiate fear from any other feeling I had ever had. I was fear, I was sadness, I was everything bad in the world, and I believed at that moment that I would never feel normal again. I started thinking about my friends, who believed what I was going through was all in my head. I thought about my family who were sick of my complaining. And of course, I thought about my boyfriend, who was supposed to love me, flaws and all; but who instead had abandoned me because he too, had had enough. Oppressive thoughts flowing, I started to think about my life and how pointless it was. I had in no way accomplished any of my dreams. At this point I had watched countless friends from high school go on to become something; guitar player in a mediocre band, model for a department store catalogue, mother to three wonderful little boys. And no matter what they became, they all seemed so fulfilled, so happy. I was neither of these things. I was in a job I hated, with no one around me who understood my plight. By the end of this long winded thought spiral my mind was suffering through, I felt suffocated by my inadequacies. I felt suffocated by my inability to carve out a life for myself that I wanted. I just felt suffocated with no where to turn.

I started pacing around my apartment looking for something, searching for anything that could ease my dreary pain. I found a baggie of months old weed from an experimental time that came when I first went off my medication. I had been hoping to find a more herbal cure for my anxiety, but found paranoia overtook and did nothing but cause more distress. And anyways, I considered, this stuff was probably too old and I didn’t have the slightest idea how to use the one pipe we had. I moved on to the fridge and found a few coolers; gross, sugary drinks that I could barely stomach, but that also seemed like the only solution. I took one from the bottom shelf and sat down on the couch. TV turned off, lights turned off, I sat and drank by myself. I thought, if I could just drink enough of this shit, I wouldn’t feel this way anymore. I had never had a drink by myself before, I had never dreamed it possible that I would need one, but in that moment it seemed my only escape. It seemed my only refuge from a lifetime of fear.

I finished the drink and went to the fridge to get another, already feeling the calming effects of the first. But halfway there, I stopped myself. I didn’t want to be this person, in fact I had worked my whole life with the one goal of not being the person I had watched my mother become. So I didn’t let myself have that second drink. And I felt disgusted at myself for having the first. And I felt terrible deep inside because I knew that first one had made me feel better. It had made me feel just good enough to allow me to sleep. But I started thinking as I went into the bedroom, completely worn out from the emotional ride I had experienced, some people didn’t have that voice inside that I did. Some people didn’t hear their mother crying and yelling in a daze of alcohol “you ruined my life”, they didn’t hear the tears and the screams of their dispirited mother to stop them from taking that next drink. Some people, all they had was their own voices, telling them to keep going, to have one more drink if it would make them stop feeling what they were feeling. And as I laid down in my bed, fully clothed, too tired to even change, I finally, and fully, felt as though I understood Taylor. I understood how you could become addicted to a thing, addicted to anything that would make the pain stop. Because if not for that awful truth of what it does to you, and seeing that first hand, I would have been right there with her. I would have been right beside her at the bar every night, drinking away the fevered thoughts of my mind. I would have been right there, drowning; but not alone, not afraid, and not so hopelessly lost that nothing in the world made sense.

And that’s the moment I knew I had felt it completely. I knew it and her and I understood. But I also knew that it changed nothing. That it wouldn’t bring me and Taylor back together. I wouldn’t pick up the phone and tell her everything, I would suffer alone, without her, as I had been doing for so long now. And so I did. Alone. And so I slept.

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16 Questions

I found this questionnaire on hitrecord.org (Great site, sign up if you’re feeling creative) and I thought I’d post it here as well.  I thought it was interesting and asked some good questions.  Comment with your answers please!  Or post a link to your answers on your blog!

1. Who are you and what do you do?

 I am a 30 year old girl living in Toronto, ON.  I work as an admin assistant at a pharmaceutical company.  I write.  I read.  I love words.

2. What’s the origin of your artist name?

 My artist name is my name.  I always wondered what I would go by if I was ever published.  Some women change their names.  I could be L.B. Gowing, so no one would know i was female and men would read my book.  I think I would go by Lauren Bethany.  So everyone would know I’m female and hopefully everyone would still read my book.

 

3. What has been your biggest challenge with your art so far?

 Making excuses.  Using my weaknesses as a reason to sleep instead of write.  Being distracted by meaningless things.  Fear.

 

4. Who or what is your biggest influence?

Everyone who writes, whether it be well or not. Whether I agree with what they are saying or not.  If they create something that means something to them, I admire that.  Also, artists who are genuinely good people.  I have met many who are not.  I have come in contact with some who make me want to turn away from their art because I don’t like who they are as people.  Neil Gaiman comes to mind as a great talent and a great person.

 

5. What is your wildest story?

 It wouldn’t be real.  I live in fear, I write wild stories.  My wildest story happens always in my head.  I will one day live a wild story and tell you about it.

 

6. What is the last book you read?

I want to sound cool.  I want to talk about “The Raw Shark Texts” by Steven Hall and talk about how amazing it is.  And it is.  But I’ve only read 150 pages.  I stopped reading it to pick up a dystopian Young Adult trilogy by Ally Condie called MATCHED because I have a terrible love for all things YA.  So I’m not cool.  I’m reading something that is years below my reading expertise.  And I love it.  

7. If you could be any character in fiction, who would you be?

Hermione Granger.  She is the perfect combination of someone with a great and solid head on her shoulders, someone who is full of strength, but still knows the importance of love.  She is beyond intelligent and always makes the right decisions.

8. What couldn’t you live without?

Words.  They are my solace.

 

9. What is your secret talent?

No secret talent.  Barely any unsecret talent.  Barely any talent.  Sometimes I believe I can sing.  Sometimes I imagine myself on a stage with screaming fans.  Then I remember I’m me.  That’s sort of a secret.

 

10. Tell me about the last dream you remember having?

I dream crazy dreams every night.  They are usually full fledged horror stories within themselves.  Someone chasing me, me chasing someone.  Friends dying.  It’s all very graphic and horrible.  It’s all very terrible.  But in the dream, I am aware it is a dream and I feel no fear.

 

11. What are you craving right now?

Importance.

 

12. What was the last song you fell in love with?

Hozier – Take me to Church

 

13. Can you hula hoop?

In Theory

 

14. What do you like?

Books.  Dogs.  Hiking.  Being outside.  The Ocean.  Sleep.  My niece Isabelle (More then anything else in the world)  

 

15. What do you dislike?

People who are fake.  People who tell me to be happy when I’m not happy.  People who tell me there’s nothing to be afraid of when the whole world is terrifying.  Olives.

 

16. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Remember to Breathe – Gregory Maguire

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The Fear that Screams

Fear screaming out through the eyes.
The terrified soul sneaking to the outside world,
Making itself known,
“You will not hide behind hiding anymore.”
 
So you show yourself, you become aware of every moment.
Of every joy and every sorrow.
And everyone will know your truth: that life can be so hard and you can’t even explain why.
And they will pull away.  And they will yell.  And they will scream.  And they will hate you.  And they will disrespect you.  And they will never ever understand you.  And they will give up on you.  And then they will leave.
And then they will leave.
 
But alone is where the fear started, so alone the fear wins.
“You were wrong and are wrong and will always be wrong.  I will never leave you.”
 
And it doesn’t lie.  It may lie about most things, but about this alone it is always true.
He will always be with you.

 

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Inside/Outside: The Soul

That crushing of the ribs,
Into your lungs, your heart.
That enveloping blackness that seeps through every aspect of your soul.

But is it your soul?
Is that to what the darkness is clinging?
Or is that just wishful thinking?
This idea of a soul that is you; before and after. And even after that.

The melodramatic musings of the weak.
They come out in your voice no matter how you want to hide.
The overwhelming, need, desire, need for some kind of understanding.
But from someone who lives above their emotions, away from their soul.

But is it their soul?
Is that what they’re running from?
Or is that just simplistic thinking?
This idea that every part of you should seep through your soul, that is you; before and after.

Maybe the person comes before their soul in a self righteous, egotistical plea to separate itself from pain

But then, there are more then just us two.
There is more than living within or without, beneath the soul or above it.
So we bridge the gap. Become one in the same shade of gray.

Become one soul, living for now.

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The Ring – Guidance Requested

So I started off writing a short story following these prompts that I found on a website. They simply said to write a short story involving: A stolen ring, a fear of spiders, and a sinister stranger. I started, and the ring part was easy, I always had it in my head apparently. But I don’t know where to go from here. Anyone have any ideas they can give me. Even just more prompts, because the spiders and strangers aren’t stirring any emotions in me. Leave a suggestion in the comments! 🙂 Thanks.

The Ring

It was the day of her funeral. I couldn’t believe Gram was gone. I was half pain, half content. I know she suffered towards the end and I know she lived a long life filled with plenty of happiness, but I was of course still sad to see her gone. On the other side, I was also glad she was no longer suffering. Anyways, I knew deep down, that this was the human condition we all unknowingly agreed to when we were born. Death is always how it ends, there is no other way.

I sat in my small, bachelor apartment, thinking and thinking of what to wear, of what my loving Gram would approve of. She was a strong willed woman who had an opinion about everything. We didn’t always see eye to eye, but she never faulted me for voicing my opinion, she knew being strong was important and admired the quality she believed she had passed on to me. I wanted to wear something that she would like, knowing that she had so many issues with the rips in my jeans or the band prints on my t-shirts. She always wanted me to be more feminine, and in her final moment before her body left the earth for good, I thought I could respect her wishes and give up my comfort for her, this time it was really all about her. The problem was, I didn’t have much that worked for a funeral. Nothing that my wonderful grandmother would deem appropriate, but time was passing quickly and I really needed to leave. I finally chose the only pair of black dress pants I owned and a black fitted sweater. It was dreary, as were most of my clothes, but at least there were no rips or tears anywhere to be seen, and at least to me, it seemed classy and feminine enough for her liking. With my shoes on, and jacket done up, I ran out the door and drove the short distance to the funeral home.

Walking in the door of the church, I was confronted with many faces. Some strangers, some slightly familiar, and others family. I said hi to those I knew in a somber voice, and made my way over to my mom and brother. “Hi Charlotte, you look nice,” my mom was always happiest when my tattoos weren’t visible and never failed to mention it. “Thanks, you too” I could tell she had been crying, but then she was now suddenly faced with living the rest of her life parentless, so crying was only natural. Parentless was something I couldn’t even begin to fathom, so I ached for the pain she must be feeling. My brother felt like I did, sad at missing our Grandma, but happy it was over. We found it hard to shed too many tears despite the occasion, only because we knew that deep down, it was what Gram really wanted. Since our granddad died two years ago, she wanted nothing more than to be reunited with him, and with her strong faith she led every day since that moment awaiting their return to one another. So we both took our moms hand to show our support, but felt almost happiness at the peace our Gram was now feeling.

The funeral went as most do, something more for the living then for the dead, full of clichés and life lessons, full of religious text and sermons that have little to do with the life of the one who has passed. I always found funerals very bland and unimaginative, I always wanted more from them, more personalized history of the deceased’s life. I certainly never felt any closure upon hearing the minister spew out some standard words that they’d said a million times. My mom got up to speak and it was the most emotional part of the whole affair. She was always good with speeches, if a little dramatic, but if ever there was a time to be dramatic, now was certainly that time. She told my grandma’s life story as she knew it. It seemed very hard, and romantic, and completely different from the life I had lived so far. I would never experience a world war as she did, I would never experience the pain of losing friends to war, of thinking I had lost my fiancé to war. The stories were entertaining and funny and spoke greatly of my grandma. By the time it was over, both my brother and I were finally in tears, finally seeing the full force a single life could have on the world.

Afterwards, everyone went up to the casket to say their own personal goodbyes one last time. One by one, people touched my cold grandma as though she was still in there and some part of her could still feel their presence. I hoped with everything in me that this wasn’t true, for what could be scarier than being present at your own funeral, stuck in your body, aware of the lives that were continuing without you. I waited until the very end so I could be alone with her, I had written her a eulogy as well, but didn’t have my mother’s penchant for public speaking so I decided I would read it to my grandma alone. When everyone had left the room, I asked my mom and the minister to give me a minute and took the piece of paper out of pocket.

“Well Gram, this is it. I’ll try not to make this too sentimental, because that was never our thing, but I did have some things I wanted to say to you. I wanted to say to you that I love you. I love how strong you were, I love how tough you were, and I love that you taught me the importance of my opinions. You taught me that I matter even in this great big world. I wanted to tell you, Gram, you were a great inspiration to me and will continue to be, as I will live my life following your rule: Never Give Up. I won’t Gram, for you, I won’t. I know it’s been hard, and I know sometimes I’ve wanted to, but I hereby promise you that for you I will never give up. I will try, and try and try until I can’t try anymore, and then I will give another push and keep going because life is hard, but it is also amazing. Of everything you taught me, that was the most important one. Life can be amazing. So goodbye Gram. Say hi to Grandpa for me, if that whole thing really does exist in the end.”

I leaned over to kiss my grandmother’s wrinkly, white forehead, doing what everyone else had done, acting as though this empty body was still somehow the person I loved. But I guess that was just what you did, I guess you didn’t let go until you had to. Until there was no more body left to hold on too. I grabbed my grandmother’s hand, unwilling to walk away in that moment, needing just a few more seconds before I could tear myself away, when I noticed the ring on her finger. She still wore her wedding band and engagement ring from my grandfather, of course, but on her right hand, prominently showing, was a small, gold ring with a solitary pearl in its center and two miniscule diamonds on either side. It was my ring. I couldn’t believe it.

Since I was little I had adored this ring and told my grandmother so every time I saw it. As I got bigger I begged her to let me wear it every time I came over, and paraded it around the house like I was the queen of the world. When I turned 13 my grandmother gave me a cheap replica that only sort of resembled the ring and promised me that when she left the world, I could have the real one. I was wearing the replica at this very moment and had planned to bring up the real ring in a few weeks when my mom had started going through her things. I couldn’t believe this ring was about to be lost to the world forever, cremated with my grandmother, its ashes put in the ground.

I didn’t know what to do. This ring was one of the things holding me together in this moment. Yes I knew my gram’s was in pain, and I knew she wanted to be with her husband, but she was still my gram and I still loved her and missed her dearly. This relic was supposed to be my forever reminder of her, that even when things got hard, I would have her strength and protection and I would make it through. I had to have this ring. I looked around quickly and saw the empty room, everyone had crowded out into the lobby and some had left to go back to my mom’s house for the wake. I was alone, I could take the ring and no one would know. But should I? Was it wrong? Was I doing something terrible in retrieving something I truly didn’t believe I could live without? I mean, really, it was just a ring, my grandma’s strength would be with me no matter what, but now was the time to decide, and I knew I needed to have it. It had been my life; it had been the symbol to me that everything would be okay. So I looked around one more time and retrieved the ring from my grandma’s cold, cold hand. I removed the replica from my hand and placed it on her finger. A simple exchange. I was simply taking something that was meant to be mine. I knew my grandma would understand.

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And then, and then

And then she said, “Please.  I need your help.”

And then he said, “No, you can make it on your own.”

And then she said, “You don’t understand.  I know I can’t make it on my own.  I know I will fail.”

And then he said, “I can’t always be there to help you.  You must learn to be independent.  You must learn to help yourself.”

And then she said, “Maybe I’m not, maybe I can’t, maybe I don’t have it in me.  Can’t you see that I’m begging you for help.”

And then he said, “I’m leaving you now.  I can’t be a part of your self destructive behaviour.  Do it alone.  Be a grown up.  Be independent.”

And then he left.

And then she cried.

And then she sat up straight and took a deep breath.

And then she knew that being independent meant it was okay to need help.

And then she called her friend.  “I can’t do it alone.  I’m falling into the far reaches of my mind and my mind is going to win.  I need your help.”

And then her friend said, “I’m here.  Don’t worry.  I’m always here.  Your mind won’t win.”

And then she smiled.

And then she felt safe.

And then she felt independent, in her own way.

And then….

And then…

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Trash

Little by little and lots by lots

I empty my head of terrible thoughts.

They’re worrisome, troublesome, tiresome too,

They’re garbage, they’re useless; if only I knew

Someway to rid them right out of this world,

So they’d no longer leave me a shell of a girl.

Instead of just leaving, they choose to remain

Like insidious lepers, like trash for my brain.

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