I don’t believe in the existence of a mood as flat and serene as a pond at night. I don’t see how the ebb and flow of the tides don’t show us how our moods move in liquid state. We don’t stay in one place, we don’t exist solely in one moment, one mind. We are evolving, moving, dividing and dissolving. Forever we are not the same, though our minds and our words will tell us we are.
Week after week we reach the end of another Sunday and we dread the dawn. We may have the best of jobs or the worst of jobs, but we fear that removal of our control. We become the plaything of others, we feel. Through this door, I’m not the boss. My mind, my body, my energy – now they belong to someone else. And we do this because we are supposed to be funding our own freedoms and experiences. Tell me, how much time in the evenings do you put aside for your own freedoms and experiences?
Energy. Let’s start there. I myself have no children, no real dependants – I am married to a man who has his own responsibilities and avenues to pursue. So, when the final bell whistles and we down our tools, I should be free to do whatever it is that I want to do, right? I could run a mile, cook a nice dinner, watch a movie, read a book – I could do anything to unwind and relax.
Instead, I sit in the dark and I dream to die.
Energy and the lack of it kills the mind as surely as a bullet to the temple. Existing isn’t enough in this world. As bad as things are on the grander scale, we live from day to day with seconds that are not gifts but simple certainties. You lived this second, it is certain. The next one isn’t certain. But we tend not to think about that. And so we are overcome.
There are many facets to depression. I write this not as a scholar or a learned man, but as someone who has felt the ebb and flow of depression wash over and around me for as long as I can remember. If you have read my previous posts, you’ll have seen a sink into darkness and an attempt to rise again. Now, in this moment, I can’t say for certain where I am. I feel, I wish, I want to know. I want to take a handle on it.
More than anything else, depression is the thief of time. If you rise now and run for twenty minutes, you will get a fair handle on the passage of time – those twenty minutes will feel longer than if you were to sit down and watch an episode of your favourite television show or YouTube video. Yet, when we sit in the darkness and it consumes us, seconds slide into minutes, into hours and days and then we don’t know where it went. Our faces are lined, our hair has thinned and turned the colour of old ash and we curse our lost youth. I am thirty-one years old as I write this, and I don’t know what I have done with the time that I was granted.
We are none of us guaranteed anything in this life. We are not promised love, nor happiness. We aren’t promised a reason or a goal. We just are. That’s all. It is my belief that there is no God watching over us and no Devil waiting to take us. We happened to arrive here and when the time comes, we will just stop. For years that thought terrified me. I needed the belief in the afterlife because the idea that this was all there is was too much to bear. It still is, if I’m being honest. We have megalomaniacs in charge, and we have to answer to the bell of egos crying for report, report, report until we are allowed to finally retire on whatever little money we have left.
There isn’t going to be a golden retirement in my future. For as long as I’ve been certain there’s nothing above or below, I’ve known that old age isn’t in my future. Pessimism, maybe? I could argue optimism but that’s semantics at this stage. But, to go back, let me speak instead about the time we have.
I write this on a Sunday night. I work a 9-to-5 and I give over my thoughts and energies in far more hours than that. I could lie and say it’s because I’m a perfectionist, but anyone who sees my output will just laugh at that one. I could say that it’s because I want to do well but my skills won’t let me. Again, you’ll hear the laughter in the background.
My thoughts, waking and sometimes sleeping, are filled with the worries and whys of working hours because I quite simply have nothing better to do with my time. I have no dreams. I have no plans. I have no directions. I just wake and sleep, I work and travel. There is nothing unique about the way I live my life. I am told by those close to me that when I drink, I become just another annoying punter in the bar, striving to be the loudest one there. I don’t arrange outings or events because I will blame money or availability as quick as I can hit play on the next episode of whatever it is I’m watching. I scroll. I fade. Everything worth noticing faded from me when I accepted my degree, ten years ago, clothed in robes, already planning for the bleak desolation of the future, however short it may be.
And now I stop a moment and I wonder how self-pitying this all comes across. I recently attended a comedy show where a performer stood on stage and told us how awful her life was for seven minutes. Barely anyone laughed, fewer still clapped when she eventually sat down. I wondered at the forum. This person, whether the stories were true or not, was giving us information that was dark, personal, private. She chose to give it as a form of comedy. That aside, I thought – ‘Am I supposed to be laughing at this? Is this what we find funny now?’ We are a society that lives on scandal and the intricacies of whatever the media has managed to dig up about our favourite (for the time being) stars and yet when presented with tales of woe from the person to whom they happened, I found myself feeling distinctly quiet, reflective and anything other than in a laughing mood.
So, to bring it back to point, why am I writing or, more to the point, why am I posting these stories online? I am here typing about my surety of my own early death and I’m putting it on a public forum, where my family and colleagues can read it. Am I attention seeking? Is all I want the reassuring hand on the shoulder, for someone to take me up and tell me it’s going to be ok? No. That’s not it. Things aren’t going to be ok if I stay the course. Things aren’t ok now; they haven’t been for a long time and I don’t see them getting any better in the days to come. That reassuring hand, welcome as it is, doesn’t change that fact. My war is within.
I speak of separation from the life I lead, both personally and professionally. This weekend, the waters overcame me again and I drank to forget, letting the numbing power of beer bring me to a safer space, but no dice. I wonder if I even try anymore. I wandered and I returned home. I vented my feelings and I sank low, too low. Another night passed where it didn’t matter to me in the slightest whether I woke up the following morning. It wasn’t as direct as the will to act on it. I wasn’t finding myself in the kitchen searching for a way to open my veins in the shower. The thoughts sit in my mind daily and I don’t act on them. As odd as it is to say, this hopeless, bleak reality I live in is still a fraction better than where it was in the past when I made the decisions to die. Another way to describe it is simple I didn’t care enough to do something about it. In the past, I did care enough. Now, what’s the point?
I could see this simply running on for days, weeks, months to go. I won’t say years. But I can see the day by day fall running on and on until one day it stops. I ask myself sometimes when I have the wherewithal ‘is this what you told yourself you’d be?’ I have a fallacy in my head, an image of a child at a piano stumbling over notes full of ambition. In my mind’s eye I know the image isn’t real – the child is, and the piano is, but the ambition was small. But I have this image, nonetheless. In a small white room, at a Steinway with ivory keys, the young boy plays notes and gets a little better each time. I watch him learn and I enjoy the music that comes out of his hands, knowing that in a very short time he will take a knife to the left arm and swallow a packet of pills on the same night. Several years after that failed attempt, he will decide it will be a more thorough and planned out overdose attempt. That will never come to fruition and though he doesn’t know it, that will be the first of the times where he doesn’t care enough to do something about it. That young boy at the piano, trying to learn those notes. And I watch him.
Sometimes we ask ourselves what we would say to ourselves if we could go back in time. What wisdom could I possibly impart on him? I think first of the darkness that lies before him. I want to warn him in some way, to prepare him for the world full of jaded hate that’s just outside those doors. I want him to have a shield, a strength – something better than a head full of dreams – before he walks through those doors. I think of the words. I think – ‘get strong, go workout, be sure of yourself!’ but I don’t say these things (this is really happening in my head) and instead I watch him play. Yes, there are many things I would love to change about his future. I would see him become happier if I had the power. I would tell him to mind peoples’ feelings but look after his own first, as too often he let the needs of the undeserving, out of place many overtake the needs of the one. I would tell him that trust is earned and not to be dolled out on face value. I would tell him kindness begets kindness, and that friends are there to be found. I would tell him to respect alcohol, as it will lead to some of the darkest moments in his life. That young boy, playing that piano in that room, is thirteen years old and he thinks he knows how the world works. I am thirty-one years old and I see that the world does not work in mysterious ways. Your dreams may simply stay as that. I would tell that boy to love and to know what real love is back. He will be burned. He will be betrayed. He will lose a piece of his heart with every kiss and every sexual partner. He will grow. It will hurt.
I think now of my Dad’s favourite Christmas film. Every time a bell rings, an Angel gets its wings. See what life would have been like if you had never been born. I know that at least one other person would be dead if I wasn’t here. But I think of the pain I’ve endured in life, self-pity be damned, to justify that. Is my pain worth that life, the life of a person I no longer speak to, no longer care about? I’m no doctor, I didn’t perform any surgery. I simply talked someone down off a ledge. I’m not saying it wasn’t a good deed, and I know that my good karma box filled right up that night, making me a shoe-in for the best presents from Santa – but I feel so sour about the life I lead, it doesn’t help me to feel worth it anymore.
And yet. And yet. There is always an argument and to be honest I’m very tired of arguing. I’m trying now, I am telling myself, to use physical exercise to get more energy. I come back to energy again. I am tired all of the time. I know that a part of it is my illness and a part of it is lethargy. My plan is to get on medication, because I’ve resisted the idea for a long time, years now, and workout. I’m not aiming for the Schwarzenegger physique, far from it. I want to have more energy. And with that energy I want to do things. It’s as vague as it sounds. But I want to do things with my life. If I’m to be here, on this dying globe, and watch the ship go down then I want to be in a place where I’m not as accepting of the darkness that surrounds me. It might be a pipe dream, I know. So many of my attempts to plan are. I have dozens of failed starts in the life I have led to get me here. I don’t feel certainty in anything and so in this, I feel a boring, dull curiosity. Can I do it? Probably not. Will I give it a go? Why not?
There is no real end to this piece this evening. Much of what is here has been written in previous pieces, and I chose not to open with that because I am writing to you, but I am talking to myself. That’s what we do. I am the only person on this earth that is with me for every second of every minute of every hour. I don’t like my mind; I don’t like my image and I don’t like my tiny view of the world around me. I live in a shoebox in a city I’ve spent a total of about a couple of years outside of in my life. I am caged. I’m not a songbird but if death is my only escape then even with the way that I feel, with the total absence of hope, I have to find another route.
To stay alive so that someone else won’t have to feel loss isn’t enough. You stay alive for yourself. If anyone asks me why I don’t have a long-term plan for the future, it’s because I don’t see myself in the future, so what’s the point? But I can plan for the short term. I have to plan for the short term. If I can do that, if I can make a small plan and stick to it, no matter what the effort or reason, then I’m going to give that a go.
I have saved a life in the past. I am the only person alive who can save my own. Even though I don’t see the point of having another year here, I will try. It’s all we can do, isn’t it?