It’s funny, you know. In all my dreams about my life, and trust me, I’ve had plenty, I never thought I’d be here. I don’t know exactly where I am in life, but the point is not where I am in life, the point is that I didn’t think I’d BE to have a place in life. I didn’t think I’d BE as in Exist, because you can exist without Being.
Depression has a way of making you walk through life like a zombie on autopilot: you walk through life in a blur, not knowing how you got from one moment to the next, passively participating in the action around you: you’re a background character in support of the main character.
Some days that’s how I am. I exist, but I’m not being, not living but surviving, barely breathing.
People who don’t have depression have this misconception that it’s linear: you go through the rough patch once, and you’ll be good forever. Or, it’s a roller coaster with its ups and downs and upside downs.
The truth is that it’s not really any of those things. I’ve described it various ways before: the overwhelming sense of numbness, and the desire for anything that can help us make it from one day to the next. I’ve also described it as a fight where the only thing you have to fight with is a plastic fork and a metal trashcan lid (for more on that, click here).
Depression is not linear or a roller coaster. It’s really more like a Spiral, which I like to call the Spiral of Doom, and somewhere on this spiral, there is a Monster, Depression, whose path you cross more and more frequently as you go throughout life, and the increase in frequency makes each encounter harder to fight. It looks something like this:
I’ve come to accept this monster. In fact, I’ve named him: André.
Some days, André is no Giant. I can scoop him up, put him in my pocket, and carry on with my life in a normal manner. However, I never forget that André is there, feeding and growing bigger ever so subtly, even when I try to ignore him. And then there are days when I can ignore him no more: he’s gotten too big to hitch a ride in my pocket (especially with the appalling size of pockets in female jeans), so I’m forced to give him a piggy back ride, which would be great if he wasn’t bigger than I am. The weight of André on these piggy-back ride days makes it harder for me to function, to move, to breathe.
He’s been pocket-sized for a while. But lately, he’s gotten bigger, feeding off my insecurities and doubts.
And now I’ve been relapsing in dreams.
I hadn’t had a dream about my sexual assault in six months, a new record. But in the last three weeks, I’ve had a dream eighteen times. 18 out of 21. If that was a batting average, I’d be in the major leagues.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a baseball game.
Only some of those dreams have replayed the incident as it happened; the rest have been made-up scenarios, as if my brain is more focused on the “Could Be”s instead of the “Here and Now”s.
I need to focus on the “Here and Now”s because I can’t go back and change the past, and I have no idea what the future brings.
But I’m relapsing in dreams.
I’ve ripped a suicide note up, threw it out the window as I was driving, and watched it blow away in the wind. I’ve started eating, stopped cutting, and have accepted André as a Forever Friend.
I’ve learned so many things in this short life I’ve mine, but I haven’t yet learned how to purge memories from my mind that threaten to eat me alive. I’ve tried the Counseling, and the repressing, and I’m continuing to experiment with the writing. Because maybe, just maybe, if I write about it enough times it’ll become less scary, less taboo.
I’ve learned that the pain never really goes away, it just becomes more dull over time.
I’ve learned that recovery isn’t final: the threat of relapsing is all too real.
But I’ve learned that relapsing isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world because if my dreams and my past have taught me anything, it’s that things are a lot less scary the second time around.