People talk about it
December 26, 2013 § 4 Comments
One of the things that has always bothered me is that I don’t seem to feel the way other people feel. I feel some of the same things – I love my wife, which seems to be a common emotion people express, for example. I’m not sure of this, because I have no real means of comparison. I can’t feel what anyone else feels, or in the manner they feel it. I am forced, as we all are as far as I know, to exist in this limited fashion and experience the world only through my own eyes.
So it is with what people call depression. I have something that seems similar to it. A pervasive sense of pointlessness, an enervation that seems all encompassing. Nothing seems to matter. There’s no reason to do anything, and all emotion is flattened. Sometimes I physically hurt from this. It feels like I have been beaten. There’s an exhaustion to it, but it’s not the exhaustion of having worked hard but rather of having had to endure beyond my strength. My limbs feel shaky, my jaw twitches.
I’ve read other people’s descriptions of depression. I’ve seen it described as an inability to feel. That’s not what this is, this whatever it is that takes over my thoughts and feelings. I’m capable of feeling. I feel brittle. I feel empty, wrung out, as if I’ve been sobbing and retching for hours and hours, but I haven’t. I can go entire days, entire weeks with this feeling. Things like joy, love, even rage still exist in me, they just feel pointless. I can still have a moment or two of them – I can be delighted in my wife’s cleverness or in awe of her talent, I can read blogs or twitter and be interested and invested in discussions. But behind and surrounding these flashes is the cold grey sea, constantly lapping at the shore and eroding everything. Nothing seems to matter. Anything I accomplish is meaningless. Life itself just seems pointless, yet astonishingly I’m still terrified of its loss. I clutch the things that feel meaningless and empty like a broken spar, desperate not to submerge completely in that cold empty grey that is everything I can see, in all directions.
Emotions flare up. A minor mistake enrages me and I snap, then feel a detached embarrassment that I even bothered to get upset when it is meaningless. I once threw a literal fit over my wife getting the wrong kind of Doritos, or not getting them when I asked – I no longer remember the exact details, just the fit, like a toddler choking back scalding tears and screaming. I can hysterically laugh at a minor joke one seconds, and the next not even react even when I objectively find a statement to be amusing. Caring about other people becomes an intellectual exercise – I’m aware I should do so, and sometimes I even manage it, but more often I simply fake it, simulate empathy or sympathy as the situation seems to require. It is as if I can look inside and see the places where those emotions lay buried under the surface and pretend hard enough that they wake to a sluggish pantomime of what other people seem (always seem, because all I can tell is what I see, I can’t feel what anyone else feels) to be doing.
I don’t know if this even actually is depression. I have thyroid problems and diabetes, and so, for all I know it could be blood sugar being low causing actual physical exhaustion. It feels like exhaustion. I think. I’ve been exhausted. The brittle sensation approximates it. The need to cling to those few things that I can still believe matter, like my wife and our life together. But I’ve felt this way off and on for most of my life – it’s hard to believe it’s just exhaustion when it’s been going on as long as I can remember.
I’ve run out of ways to say this. I’ve run out of knowing what I’m even trying to say. That’s the other problem – my thoughts get muddled. I run out of clarity. Like sitting and breathing fumes until your head throbs and your lungs burn – you stop thinking because all you’re thinking about is that pain in your chest and the giddy, dizzy lack of good air. That’s me right now, gasping, trying to get a lungful of something I can actually breathe. That’s depression to me. Constantly trying to catch my breath.