Living with Anxiety and Depression
My father absolutely loves “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and he would often watch it late at night. I remember lying in my bed in my room with my eyes closed, craving sleep to come and take me away from those noises. The opening music was so yawning, so endless and grandiose that my little four-year-old brain instantaneously tied it to the sense of human mortality. Every time the haunting melody of that little tone poem “Also Sprach Zarathustra” by Richard Strauss began, I would quietly suffer baby panic attacks, unable to wash away the thought of coffins, death and dying. Even talking about it now, as an adult, raises my pulse and all the old fear impulses come back. That is how potent real anxiety can be.
Before I made the decision to get medical attention, I would wake up every morning with terrible grinding pangs in my abdomen. The intense stress of having to leave my home and walk into the unexpected created real, painful although entirely invisible marks on my body. It didn’t matter if it was school or work, a new place or a familiar one- I would go through this pain every single time.
Then there was the depression. The first time I had a suicidal thought, I was only five years old. Though there is good and bad in every day, I have to this day not been able to make it for one single sun rise to sun set without at least one suicidal thought creeping into my brain. To be perfectly clear, I have zero intent of ever acting on those desires because the last thing I want to do is hurt my family and my community, even if it only be with the very same invisible emotional scars that I’ve carried my whole life. So what would drive someone to that point, what could literally be so depressing as to make someone want to end it all?
Perhaps the worst aspect of true, real, lasting depression is it happens for no reason at all. There is nothing, you want nothing, you are nothing, you love nothing. I would get random bouts of depression on the playground as a child, periods when everything in my head went quiet. It was not a peaceful quiet, but a heavy, aching, painful quiet. I would hide myself to see if anyone would notice or care that I was gone. Nobody ever did. That was my way of dying without dying, just breaking myself off from humanity, proving to myself how unnecessary I was. This continued well into middle school.
Perhaps one of the best ways of describing depression is it is like a black hole or a void. The thought of trying to fill it makes you constantly exhausted. I have diary entries from the time I was ten years old describing my constant malaise, fatigue and disconnect with society. This worsened into my adulthood where, frustrated with a social setting that not only forced me to pretend I wasn’t ill but convinced me that I was being selfish and lazy, I would scratch words into my flesh of things that I lacked and things that I was. I still have the scars to this day.
After several years of treatment, it’s still a roller coaster ride. Perhaps the worst part of it, other than living in solitude, is that the one person who needs to read this the most, to take time to digest it and let it sink in, most probably never will. There are things here that she never knew about me, and I feel like, if I were a magazine, she’d just flip through the pictures and put me down. She always puts me down.
There are so many things I want to tell her, need to tell her. But, I guess, she just doesn’t have the time…