I woke up this morning crying. It's not something I do particularly often, but I'd had a bad dream, and it just happened. And, like anything involving life with depression, there are simultaneously a hundred reasons for my feelings, and no reason at all for them.
Nearly a year ago, I sent out a first call for submissions to Five Million Grains of Sand, a half-concieved art and writing project which you can read about elsewhere on my website. It was a way to constructively grieve for a loss of someone from the periphery of my life. Then, I slowly began weaning myself off of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication, and winter happened, and things came to an unintended halt. A lot of things come to a halt when you're dealing with unmitigated anxiety and depression. There are no guarantees about how you are going to feel from one minute to the next. Your worst fears find a way of negating everything else that you thought you had figured out about life. At the end of 2014, I had been successfully fundraising and publishing my first novel overseas. In the early months of 2016, finally rid of every chemical that kept my brain functioning normally, it was a tremendous effort for me simply to go to a job that required very little of my intellect, come home, eat dinner, and cry in my mother's arms before going to sleep again. It was brutal, but it also re-introduced me to a way of feeling that my medications had allowed me to bury. I had to work through things, because my brain and body did not operate until I acknowledged my pain.
Back on medication, and with very real intention to maintaining an exercise schedule and regular self-care, I have gotten back to a place where I feel mostly normal again. I have drive, I am not confused by simple things, I have energy for new experiences, and I am in as much a place of self-love as I had ever been, I guess. But this ease also brings with it the tendency to bury things again, which is convenient until it becomes crazily unhealthy. Last night, my brain decided, in dream form, to remind me of what I still have not completely processed. The short version, or, rather, the introductory version of what is haunting me, can mostly be found here. What I haven't shared publicly, as much, is that about a week before Steven was murdered, I had a dream in which I walked past a church and saw a statue's head on the ground covered in red paint; a symbolic presaging of events to come. Last night, I dreamt that someone I care about and I were in a car. I got out, and he was unable to because there was a trip-wire for a bomb connected to his seat. Thus, one of my very first acts this morning was to cry.
I wasn't crying because I thought this event was actually going to happen. I was crying because I know the feelings it represents that I hate, the same feelings that I must acknowledge. I worry that Steven was my only shot at happiness, and that I fucked it up. I feel guilty for not going on a second date with him. I feel sad that an essentially good person is no longer here. I feel sad that all I can do to honor his memory is keep telling the same story of such a small portion of his life. I feel stupid for not being able to just let go of it all. I feel angry at myself for both how I acted and how I did not act. I feel angry at the world and its callousness. I fear losing those I already love and those I feel I might someday love. I wonder if potentially loving me puts people in danger. I hate myself for even entertaining such a thought. I am afraid that I will never stop feeling this way. I feel sad. I feel angry. I feel guilty. I feel dumb. I feel. I feel. I feel.
This is the nature of depression. It emanates from within your own body, grasping at everything negative that has ever happened to you and keeping these things present at all times. It dulls rationality, it thrives on delusion. It breaks your heart and makes you feel that you are to blame for being brokenhearted. And, all too often, it blurs or blots out the greater portion of you, which is good and beautiful and wonderful. There's that quote about life, "All I know about life can be summed up in three words: it goes on." It works in a pinch. Then again, I've been reading a lot of Henri Bergson, who doesn't believe in the traditional linear definition of time. Neither did Nabokov. Neither do I. All I know about life can be summed up in three words, too. It fucking is. Life is there, my feelings are there, and the passing of time does not lessen the fact of their existence.
Why am I sharing any of this? Because the feelings are less harmful out of my head than within it. Because all that depression has ever taught me, in and of itself, is that I am alone. I am not alone. Neither are you. The more we repeat that, in voice or potentially incoherent blog posts, the more we believe it. I share, also, because I need constantly to remind myself that my depth of feeling is one of the best parts of me, even though it is inconvenient and painful and conventionally weak. The same depth of feeling that contributes to my depression and bad dreams and morning crying is what compels me to find the beauty in each day, and to search endlessly and exhaustively for a life which inspires others to do the same. My words are the best way I know to do this. I'll end with a passage from a journal entry I wrote in April:
"When I love the potential of the story to grow more than I love myself, when this happens, there is nothing left but to write. I write because I want so fucking badly for the story to eclipse me, to swallow me in its blackness, to black out the moon of my existence. I write because I wish so fucking much that I wasn't prone to heartbreak at the slightest touch. I write because I cannot reconcile the world I was handed with the world I was taught to aspire to. I write because if I do not write, I do not know myself, and I know even less my place in the world. I write because I can't turn it off. I write because, sometimes, I don't want to turn it off. I want it to keep running, until it buzzes and strains beneath electrical current, short circuiting and burning out completely. I suppose the intensity I crave means something negative, but how else could I live? In a dull, repetitive existence, I choose the shock associated with bursts of insanity rather than fading completely into the beiges and tans of the world."