October 26, 2013 § Leave a comment
I was going to write a post today about self-defense, about weapons. Asha and I were attacked by a German Shepherd this morning and it reminded me of how long it’s been since I’ve witnessed a dog fight, since I’ve been involved in one. It reminded me of that helpless feeling when your brain is struggling to resolve the situation that feels like it’s in slow motion yet high speed, the brawl that seems never-ending until it’s over and you’re just in shock. I can be so fucking naive sometimes, walking around in that perfect little middle class bubble where I think I’m safe because it would never cross my mind to harm anyone else, so why would anyone ever have the thought to harm me. People attack people, animals attack animals, and almost always, it happens right out of the blue. Your only defense is self-defense, and the fear of those slow motion/high-speed situations is what drives people to purchase guns, to carry knives. The thought of owning a weapon still boggles my mind. But that’s not what this post is going to be about.
Dad keeps telling me that I’m mentally ill, that my depression is filtering everything that I feel, everything that I think, even when I strongly believe it’s rational. I try to buy into that skepticism because I think in a lot of ways it is true, but the core of my depression doesn’t come from some filtered understanding of self, it comes from the harsh reality of mortality. Everything dies. Everyone dies. This has caused me intense grief since I first realized the truth of it as a child and it is has clung to me for more than a decade. Every happy moment I have is haunted by the knowledge that all happiness comes to an end.
Even the best lives, the ones filled with the most love anyone could dream of, still end in grief. Life is nothing without love but the more you love, the more pain you will feel when the person and people you hold in your heart are gone. This is inevitable. This is a fact. There is no fabrication of afterlife that will mediate that sense of loss. The harsh reality is that when you love someone, you sign onto the intense, suffocating, overwhelming grief of losing them.
One of us will die inside these arms.
Iron and Wine lyrics will stick with me til my dying day, I’m sure of it. I listened to a lot of Iron and Wine in high school when my depression began outwardly manifesting itself (something I look back on and see as quite obvious but my parents must have mistook normal teen angst for what was really a deep depression setting in) and I would just lay in bed and cry, so moved by the poetic words that described the exact grief I felt. His words described how all beauty and happiness and love–all the things that make life worth living–will decay and disappear. Such is life. Such is nature. Such is the way things are and should be.
This overwhelming grief, the pain that sucks the air from your chest, leaving something resembling a black hole where your torso used to be, causing you to hyperventilate because you just can’t seem to catch your breath enough to breathe through the pain… that is what I feel. And not because of any singular event or trauma, not because of any particular trigger, but because the fact of life is that you must love to be happy, but you will always suffer because everything ends. I try to be thankful that I have love in my life at all, especially when I go through the most involving experiences of this grief, but that appreciation does little to assuage the intense, sharp pain of loss that I can feel vibrating through every tiny particle of myself.
This loss is normal. This loss is natural. This loss is expected and unavoidable.
This depression is rational. It’s the ultimate rational realization of the temporality of everything, absolutely everything. It is what makes life so beautiful and precious, but it’s also what makes life so incredibly fucking painful. No amount of therapy is going to get me to a point where this truth doesn’t hurt. No amount of drugs will reach the deep part of my heart that knows this truth of life, this truth of love. Love does not exist without the pain of loss and life is worth nothing without love. Medication may distract me from that, but nothing can change it. It is life. It is truth.
I know what it feels like to want to give anything, to give everything, just to hug that lost loved one again. I know how every bone in your body aches to change the situation, to turn back time, to relive every moment that is already slipping away into memory. I know what it feels like to feel totally hollow inside, sobbing on the floor alone, screaming inside your head and begging for things to be different, for somehow things to be better. Begging for one more day with them. Begging for a do-over so you could appreciate every second with them more than you did the first time you lived. That desperation. That pathetic, desperate plea with no one but yourself to make the loss of your loved one just a tiny fraction less consuming.
There isn’t a medication for that. There isn’t a therapist that can make that go away. There isn’t a trauma to rationalize. A good life is full of love; a good life is full of pain. There is no more painful a truth than this. And there is nothing about it that is filtered or twisted by depression. This is reality, and I look it in the eye.
So many people in the world seem paralyzed by the thought of death, not anyone else’s but their own. Non-existence is a fascinating thought to me, no longer existing. We’re so caught up in our inner dialogue, in our own experiences and assumptions of continuation, we forget that one day we will merely cease to exist. In most cases, we won’t be able to plan or predict when this happens and I imagine for most of us, it’s a lot like falling asleep, perhaps quite quickly. There will be no knowledge that this is your death, not really, not truly, because you cease to have knowledge once you die. There’s no looking back and saying “oh, I died.” You’re just gone. Poof.
I haven’t feared my own death in a long time for a comparatively short life. If anything, I look forward to non-existence. No struggle, no worry, no pain, no loss. I’ll simply be gone, I’ll be at peace. I don’t wish immortality on anyone, but I do wish life wasn’t so damn hard. I wish everyone had a peaceful, quiet death after so many years of pain and toil. I wish people didn’t die terribly, in unbearable pain and filled with fear. Such a tragic thing, to think about every good person who has died at the hands of a torturer or a murderer, they were one someone’s child. Their first steps were witnessed by adoring parents who cheered them on. They graduated high school with the excitement and hope of entering the world of adulthood, full of promise and potential. They lived their lives struggling to find happiness while walking a hard path of “Do No Harm.” But their lives came to a bloody end filled with pain and confusion and desperation, and above all fear. God, I hate that. Life is never what it should be. There is no fairness or justice. People live and they suffer.
Depression can’t be responsible for that thought; it feels so true in my heart, in my mind. There is always hope that people will get better, that bad people will make better choices and find redemption, and that good people will die peacefully surrounded by loved ones. But reality says it’s a crap shoot. Reality says you can live your life as a good person and can still die at the hands of a bad one. Reality says you can live life as a good person but your wonderful heart will still be broken every time you must let go of someone you love, every time you have to learn to live without them. People live and they suffer.
That isn’t Depression talking.
That is life.