...on Major Depression...



....On Major Depression… 

“In sooth, I know not why I am so sad: 

It wearies me; you say it wearies you; 

But how I caught it, found it, or came by it, 

What stuff 'tis made of, whereof it is born, I am to learn; 

And such a want-wit sadness makes of me, 

That I have much ado to know myself. 

–Shakespeare Antonio in “The Merchant of Venice”

“Having bitten on life like a sharp apple

Or, playing it like a fish, been happy,

Having felt with fingers that the sky is blue,

What have we after to look forward to?

Not the twilight of the gods but a precise dawn

Of sallow and grey bricks, and newsboys crying war.”

-Louis MacNiece “Aubade”

    After many years of experiencing intense and abnormal shifts in mood, wondering what was wrong with you, feeling like an alien or that you were possessed by some unnatural force that dictated and usurped your mind and body, never being able to trust yourself or know who you are or when you would shift between extreme highs and devastating lows. Diagnosed with manic-depression in 2007, with a tendency to fall into major depressive states for days, weeks, or months, you had been living your life like this as far back as you can remember. You were an extremely precocious and melancholy child: You told your mother “I’m going to kill myself” at the age of four and tended to notice and observe the life around you distinctly and felt like a freak of nature around other children: they did not see things as you saw them; they did not perceive the beauty and ugliness in the world that haunted you; you felt uncomfortably disconnected, not only from others, but from yourself as well. 

    You can go on and on about the blah, blah, blahs, of being and feeling out of sync with everything at an unusually young age, but you should choose to stifle your ADD and focus on the purpose of this blog: Major depression. It is your worst fear and enemy. But, as you grew your eyes widened, you came to experience many angles of life and people, slowly gravitating or drawing to yourself like a magnet those that also experienced, in their own unique way, the ugly debilitating “thing” that to this day continues to disrupt your life, dehumanize you, break you, weaken you, and painfully isolate you. Major depression is brutally unique to every individual that suffers from it; it is a personal hell that can never be fully understood by others, let alone described with words; it is the most lonely, desolate, and debilitating state of confinement. 

    How strange, the comfort, to learn that you were not the only one struggling to survive the terrifying suffocation of major depression, but one among many. To come to know that others struggle, as you do, with the isolation, the nightmare, the tyrant that repeatedly kicks the **** out of the mind and body, skews and corrupts perception, kills life-force, causes collapse, compromises sanity, and vandalizes the soulwith its putrid, unwholesome, disgusting black filth. This is no exaggeration; it is the best you can do in your attempt to describe this sickness: major depression. It is beyond language, it is an acute altered state, a cruel insanity that cannot be given a solid definition, a communication breakdown: a complete obscuration of light, goodness, and vital life-force. 

      The statement “major depression is beyond language” denotes (based on your many depressive breakdowns) the silence and repression that dominates your mind when you are mentally unsound. You want very much to articulate the desperation and intensity of the desolation that overcomes you when you are having “an episode,” but it is too preternatural to convey with words. The severity of the exasperation it causes transcends language: this exasperation extinguishes the appropriate conveyance necessary to enhance anyone’s understanding of the distress that seizes you; it is as if you lose your voice and your brain is replaced with emptiness so oppressive that you cease to be human. It induces a phantasmal state of hypnosis; you become hollow matter -doing nothing, wanting nothing, without hope or purpose, apathetic, resenting life, ashamed, riddled with irrational guilt and self hatred, a nonentity. There is no outlet for the pain and because you are an atheist the desperate plea “please help me” dissolves into the bitter air into which it was spoken, barely audible, a terrified whisper “please help me.” There is no deity to hear those three desperate words. There is no loving god to protect you, comfort you, relieve you; there is nothing, emptiness; a vacuous aura surrounds you and confirms your hopelessness- it stifles you like a boulder placed by the executioner upon your chest, crushing your lungs and damaging your ability to inhale the air: that which gave you life is murdered unjustly, sociopathically, without compassion. Your lifeline is cruelly flat. 

    Major depression is not romantic. No. Major depressive breakdowns are far from the beauty of romance. The stereotype of the “tormented artist,” the idiocy of the “goth” scene, the suicides of tragic figures in reality and in fiction-anything or anyone that romanticizes despair and the torment that drives one to take his or her life cannot truly comprehendmental illness and is an ignorant fool. Major depression is an ugly son of a *****. Famous authors or public figures that use “flowery” language to describe their “depression” in their autobiographies (such as William Styron’s “Darkness Invisible” which you threw across the room-let it rot) or biographers that make a romance novel out of the depression and/or suicide of such and such famous person/character, create a fictional idea of truesuffering and are either narcissistic, foolish, or just plain ignorant of the reality and blunt cruelty of mental illness-the terror related to the absence of self, the loss of control, the dysfunction, the call of death . It is as if a nightmare possesses every inch of your being and cripples your mind and body, alienates you from yourself and the world, distorts your perception with a diseased filter. There is no beauty, no comfort, no sun, no morning, noon, or night. The days seem to extend themselves, prolonging your purgatory. A convincing voice that no one else can hear tells you what you are: worthless, devoid of purpose, there is no reason you should take up space on this earth, you are scum, dirty, ugly, talentless, disgusting: the voice, in all seriousness, makes you want to rip out of your skin

     You have not showered for days, maybe weeks.Personal hygiene is a foreign concept. The thought of changing your clothes, showering, brushing your teeth, having to leave the room you have not left for several months, paralyzes you. To leave the house, let alone the room you’ve locked yourself up in, causes your heart to speed up and your chest to tighten; you gasp for air and the panic turns your body into a container of trepidation. Yet, the room in which you neurotically inhabit is a prison rather than a sanctuary, but there is no way out-no alternative. Your freedom has been taken from you. The trashcan in the corner, close to where you glue yourself, is full of your own body waste, and you know somewhere in that psyche of yours that you should clean it, but you can’t move: this is not the foremost thing in your mind. You are apathetic to the septic stench that permeates the air stale with your filth; you have, in fact, become acclimated to it, immune to it. You avoid every mirror because the image of your face has become disfigured and grotesque: the sight of it is similar to a perversion you cannot describe. Body dysmorphia has exaggerated every one of your imperfections and drives you to obsess over razorblades and sandpaper: instruments to erase your ugliness as your hands palpitate with deep self-hatred. You feel trapped inside the trash bag of your skin. Urgent phrases play in your mind like a broken record: “I must be free of this self that is not my self”, “I must save myself from myself”, “please help me”, “please kill me”, “I’m dying”, “I have to be free of this consuming death-rash that continues to metastasize without mercy.”

    If, for some reason, you are among people, you are a ghost. The motion of the living perplexes you. How do they persist? How is it that they maintain normalcy? How did it come to pass that you lost the ability to function as they do? Your depressions are so debilitating that you are blind to the world around. Beauty is cloaked with nothingness. That which inspired you is transparent: you see right through the radiant colors of nature as if it were a blank slate. There is not a bone of self-pity in your body. In fact, you detest pity itself. You want nothing but to be invisible because you cannot feign even vague contentment. You do not want anyone to recognize the slightest hint of the anguish and discomfort that wraps around you; you do not know how to unwrap it. It is as if you have become a frightened child with brain damage that cannot know what other children know. You are confused as to where all the ideas, passions, and movements of your inner spirit have gone. Why, all the sudden, am I so idle? You are ashamed. But, self-pity no; there is something stoic in you among all the sadness that flatly acknowledges your pathetic condition and says “So it be.” It is similar to the calm reserve of a person that has come to terms with the ugly reality that his or her life will end sooner than is typical as a result of disease. Pity in any form is disgusting to you: it is the knife of self-hatred and the stubborn masochist born out of this hatred that spits on pity and yearns for the knife to dive in, by some miracle, and rid the enemy, the empty tired beat of your heart. Your subconscious is constantly haunted by the shadow of your enemy: “I will never let you forget me,” “I can destroy you,” “I can disrupt your life when you least expect it,” I will always eclipse the rays of the bright sun and deprive you of light,” “I am much stronger than you.” You do not know how to rid yourself of the shadow. You cannot control the shadow. It sickens your perception like the stench of a septic sewage leak, the rot smell of a dead animal, the **** that clogs your toilet. All that was pleasant leers at you like an infection threatening mortality. 

     Several doctors of psychiatry have asked you: “Do you like being depressed?” You cannot imagine why you are asked such an inane question and you stare, mute, at some random object in the room, not really seeing it; the English language at this point has become some indecipherable set of foreign symbols; you cannot find the reason or meaning in anything. The pain of depression has killed off your brain cells and pissed on your pleasure receptors. “Do you like being depressed?” You know that there are certain types that enjoy self-pity and thrive on the pity they seek out from people ignorant enough to understand that pity does nothing but allow the sick to stay sick; pity encourages the narcissist, it deploys stagnation. It is very clear to you, even in the shadow that stifles you, that you are not playing the part of some heinous tragedian, and would, if only you could, stamp depression out of your life forever. Unfortunately you were born into this world with faulty chemistry.

    When the ambulance takes you away (not for the first time) because you can no longer peal yourself from the basement floor or function like a “normal” human being, you do not have the strength to object: you know all too well where the ambulance is taking you. You know the futility of it all and that no hospital will save you. The mental health doctors and workers, based on several experiences, are indifferent, arrogant, and sometimes blatantly cruel. They treat you like an invalid child; they are not there because they care, but because they need a paycheck.

     After a few days that seem endless and the claustrophobia eats at your sanity that is already compromised, you are taken to a special room. After many years of hospitalizations (being taken away from your house by the police and ambulance (once forced out and strapped down by your wrists and ankles), self medicating, several breakdowns, and not benefitting from the hundreds of psychiatric drugs you have swallowed (every shape, size, milligram, and color), you are taken to a special room on the second floor of the sate mental hospital. In this room is a machine behind a curtain from which several patients have been wheeled out on a stretcher bed after the turn of a few knobs that make intermittent dull and monotonous sounds. These patients being wheeled out from behind the curtain are unconscious, heads drooped to one side-their limbs hang idly; they appear eerily dead. All of this you witness, numb and apathetically suicidal, through the looking glass of the zombie’s eye. It is now your turn to meet the machine behind the curtain and you are wheeled towards it lying on your own stretcher bed, an IV plugged into your right arm. Once you are behind the curtain with the machine, sterile people inject several tubes of muscle relaxants into the IV after which you are told that you will be temporarily put to sleep after a tube of anesthesia enters your bloodstream. “Are you ready?” the voice of a man asks; you nod your head indifferently-your illness renders you desperate for a blackout, immune to the fear of going under and the strange machine above your head. The possible death, loss of control, and short term memory impairment associated with electro-convulsive therapy would normally fill you with fear had you been stable, but the horrific state you’ve been consumed with for the past three months supersedes this fear. Your only thought at this moment is “Do with me what you will, just please take away this murderer inside of me, the bedevilment of this chemical imbalance, the inheritance of bad genes, the empty and lost self that yearns for death, the ruthless destruction of self-medicating…please give me my life back.” And overcome with this humbling cry of mercy, you drift from consciousness as the anesthetic enters your vein, as they place the oxygen mask over your face and turn the knobs.

     A chunk of your life, about three months, has been erased from your memory. You have never experienced how frightening it is to have the memory of a substantial block of your past life completely wiped out. Those close to you tell you that you’ve done this or said that and you cannot recall ever doing or saying any of the things they claim to remember. You cannot remember some of the books you’ve read or where certain objects in your room have come from. You were told how many ECT sessions you had because you could not recall them. This is one of the most bizarre and disconcerting experiences of your life; you have quite a list of bizarre experiences in the record of your past, but this one is particularly exceptional because of the deep fear it causes you to feel.

       The ECT sessions ended, maybe sooner than they should have, because of the uncompromising doctors that gave you an ultimatum: you must attend OUR outpatient program or your treatment will be discontinued. You have already attended this outpatient program, just one among many, and quite obviously, you did not benefit from it. Your current therapist agrees that this ultimatum is ludicrous because it would make no sense to repeat am program that did nothing for your well-being. Your prescriber said that, if it becomes necessary, he can help you find another facility to continue ECT treatment. Although you are fortunate to have a few individuals on your side, the cruel reality that most mental health facilities are a business like any other and do not give a **** about you but care very much for the money they can make off your misery is a fact that makes you lonely, scared, and intensely pissed off. The ultimatum given you by the ******** at Yale New Haven Psychiatric Hospital jeopardized your sanity and their mental health system just plain SUCKS-you’ve been there enough times and have earned the justification of making such a statement.

     You are now on disability and making a slow recovery. The rewiring of your brain takes time and patience. The lack of trust you have for yourself because of your instability and the consequences you’ve had to face as a result of the mistakes and false promises you’ve made during a “bad spell” is going to take time to rebuild. You now strive for peace, normalcy (to an extent), and a wholesome life. The chaos you once thrived on during a manic spell and the natural tendency towards unruliness has lessened a great deal after your last depressive breakdown.

         The suicidal depressions that influenced your appetite for self-destruction and took you to places where death was imminent, how you entered dangerous situations willingly with no fear and screamed “I DARE YOU TO KILL ME!” haunt you now and the thought of returning to such a state of apathetic angry despair terrifies you. You realize that suicide is selfish in the sense that it severely damages the ones you leave behind. The problem is that when you are in a state of major depression, which, by the way, is a serious illness and disability, you feel the guilt, but you cannot see the impact it would have on your loved ones clearly enough to want to stay alive. You do not see the sense in living miserably just to keep your loved ones from hurt. You cannot imagine that anyone would really care that much if you were to die because your perception is horribly skewed and your self esteem says without pity but with a detached conviction “I am ****, I deserve to die.” When major depression hits, you cannot see any other way out. When you have tried almost every psychiatric drug and mental health program with small and desperate hope that these things will help you, and you really try hard to do what it takes to get better only to be disappointed as you continue to deteriorate and cannot pretend that these means of getting back to good mental health are beneficial to you, the possibility of death becomes the final answer-the only answer. You know as well that self-medicating, with substances both illegal and legal, does not alleviate but only intensifies the down-trodden state of your condition. So what is the final answer? Suicide. You cannot write when you are depressed and writing is your passion. You cannot express the hell of being alive. You can no longer endure your illness. Suicide. It is scary how close you have come to actually taking this way out. You do not want to ever feel this way again. You want to get better, to maintain, and to learn reasonable coping skills. This is what you are trying to do. It is like learning how to be human again. It is very hard to rid yourself of the negative sub-conscious when it has been drilling you your whole life. Nevertheless, you keep going, you keep learning. Nothing is perfect, it never will be. But, to have hope and the strength to go on is essential to your survival. 

Although major depression cannot be completely and accurately expressed in words, it is the attempt to describe it as well as you can that counts. The fight is a long and tiring one, but somehow you continue to fight. You will find freedom from your illness. You will persevere. There must be a way. 
SpringSnow SpringSnow
2 Responses Mar 12, 2010

Sounds like u are in control. U have expressed ur self well. This will help others.<br />
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Keep up the good work.<br />
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Live well<br />
<br />
Be well

Thank you, I only hope to touch those that should know they are not alone. Everybody goes through depression differently, but it helps to hear others thoughts and experiences as they can relate to your and make the world not such an isolated place to live.