By Tyler Callahan
You wake up in the morning, after snoozing the maximum amount of times, and your chest feels like August, warm and slow, you say that it’s because you slept so well, but you remember, you didn’t really sleep at all. Your night was spent staring at the ceiling dreaming that tomorrow would somehow be cancelled. You play the reruns of past mistakes and lonely Christmas Specials on the back of your eyelids. You would kill for just five more minutes… or months… you supposed minutes will just have to suffice. If your life were a movie, its soundtrack would be like the sound of a funeral. You’re realize that the warmth you feel isn’t a comfortable kind of warm, it’s really just what’s left of your heart melting away.
When your feet hit the cold, unwelcoming floor, you immediately regret your decision to wake up in the first place. You mentally “prepare” the day ahead, thinking of every excuse as to why you would need to miss each thing, and you tell yourself that the pain in your chest is reason enough to call in sick.
When you get fired, you’re sort of relieved. You didn’t like working there anyway. Now you have so much more time to do what you wanted to do. The only issue is that you never wanted to do anything in the first place.
When your friends start asking questions, you may tell them. You blame it on the weather, or too little sleep. You tell them it’s just a phase, that you’ll get over it. They believe you, even though you don’t.
You begin to wonder if this feeling is permanent. Well, I suppose calling it a feeling is an overstatement. It’s actually more of a numbness. Your arms feel like they’re holding dumbbells and your heart is in bondage, hands tied behind your back with the arms of your favorite sweatshirt, realizing that the comfort you name your clothes with is of the shallow, off-target kind. Your brain, strapped to a chair, is being interrogated by itself, leaving bruises that you affectionately refer to as your insecurities. You would give anything just to know what it feels like to feel again. Your stomach packed its bags weeks ago, back when it became too much work to eat. Your friends start forgetting your name, they only see blankets nowadays.
When you decide to expose your “sadness”, your confidants tell you exactly what you told them. You hear things like “Smile! Eat healthier! Go get some sleep! Go jogging! Get over it…” They speak as if depression is a hill, maybe even a mountain, like the other side is a freedom that surpasses description. They’re wrong. You know that it’s not a hill or a mountain, it’s a cliff. You understand that “getting over it” is much more dangerous than it seems. The other side looks a lot more like death than freedom. You’re beginning not to care that you get the two mixed up. The opposite of hope is not fear, it’s indifference.
You’re not suicidal, you just think the idea is interesting. You’re passionate about seeing people who “struggle with depression be freed,” since you’ve “been there before.” You’re not suicidal, you just think about why other people would do it. You want people to know that there’s more to live for, thinking that teaching is the best way for you to learn. You’re not suicidal, your steering wheel just feels like a rubber band, or twenty, pulling toward every tree on the side of the road at night. You’re not suicidal, you have a great life and so many people to live for. You’re not trapped, you choose to be stuck in the well because drowning feels more like pain than numbness. You choose the sadness, it’s not depression. You’re not suicidal, life is just hard right now, and the idea is interesting to you. You’re not suicidal. You can’t kill something that’s already dead.
Your friends are starting to get annoyed. They look past the knife in your stomach to your eyes. They tell you how pain subsides if you let it go. They tell you that you’re over sensitive. That they’ve had “depression” before, they know what you’re going through. At least they act as if they know. They act as if they know what it feels like to be shackled to your insecurities. To be put in a cage with them, to be beaten with a hose named anxiety. To see your fears and doubts personified whenever you’re unlucky enough to catch your reflection. They compare their bruises with yours, not batting an eye at the scars right beside them. They act as if they know what it’s like to have a heart that beats once a minute. Beating even slower now. They act like they know what it’s like to wish for it to stop beating altogether.
When you’re driving down the road at 1:00 AM, and you almost let go of the wheel, but you remember her. You remember her smile. Her laugh. You remember your first date together. Finding Nemo was being rerun in the theaters for a limited time and you had coupons to Steak and Shake. You remember how you dressed up for her. Your shirt didn’t match your pants but she didn’t care. And you remember the drum-line in your chest when she walked in the door. You remember your first kiss. And how you would have missed if she hadn’t have grabbed your face and moved it slightly to the left. You remember her eyes, her green eyes. You remember getting lost in them and you realize that it’s been too long since you saw them last. You decide you want to see them again. You want your heart to pump something other than doubt into your veins. So you drive to see her.
You knock twice. When she opens the door, she’s confused. She doesn’t understand why you’ve been crying. She wants to, but she doesn’t. For some reason you’re okay with it. You smile, for what seems like the first time, a smile that fits like an old sweater, comfortable and warm. You strip off your chains, and dive back into those gorgeous green eyes. You finally believe that having depression, doesn’t mean you don’t have something to live for.