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.