It is of no surprise to those who have read up to this point, but I have severe depression. If I took the time to get diagnosed, I am confident it would be considered clinical. After experiencing years of suffering from an anxiety, a myriad of crappy childhood problems and now the loss of my mother, being pleasantly joyful is hard to feel.
After my parents divorced around the age of five, I had my first experience with depression. While being such a young age, depression usually encompassed things like, not being able to play with a toy you like, having to eat vegetables or in my case, your father suddenly vanishing for a few years of your life. Granted I don’t recall a great deal of my memories from so long ago, but I do remember the feeling of when he first came back into my life at the age of seven. I had mixed feelings. On one hand, I hadn’t seen this person in almost two years, and by that time my memory was a bit hazy on who he even was, on the other hand, he brought me gifts and took me to somewhere new every other weekend to hang out with him. I learned to accept the idea, and eventually it started to become a routine.
While I explained I am a pretty patient person, my best trait is ignorance. Weekend visits with my father were a constant test of that ignorance, and one that slowly started to weigh on me as time went by. I experienced the usual separated parent spiel like “Your [other parent] is a terrible person, and you’d be much happier if you lived with me” and “Sorry we can’t go to [random outing], if you lived with me I’d have more money for us to go there more often.” Which over time you learn to just tune out on the long drive to and from your home(s). However, in my fathers’ case, there was always a big difference between ignoring factually incorrect slander and ignoring straight bullying.
My father was great at starting relationships, but terrible at making them last. This resulted in me never sure where my father was going to bring me every weekend, which depended on if he was dating someone or not. Most of the time he was dating someone, I was always treated as a bothersome parasite by his girlfriends. Most, if not all of them, treated me poorly and tried their best to ostracize me from their perfect relationship. Generally I was either forced to play outside alone while my father worked, or I was left behind when the two of them went somewhere, again alone. This is why video games became so important in my life; they were always there for me. I can remember sitting in the room with my father and one of his girlfriends as they talked about going out to dinner with her children. When my name was mentioned, she looked over and said they would just bring me something back, and that I could stay home and watch the house.
It wasn’t fun; taking time out of a weekend I could have spent with friends back home, and instead coming to visit my father only to ultimately get ignored. I coped by playing video games, drawing pictures and writing stories. I found ways to travel to worlds that weren’t my own, so I could find some reprieve from the disappointment I felt being ignored by my own father. This is where my first memory of depression started.
In time I removed myself from the situation, and in turn cut all ties with the man who I can hardly remember anything about regardless of all the years I had spent “visiting” him. By this point, I already had my anxiety, and the cycle of depression continued onward. Sometime later that year, I started to sink even further, feeling as though life was worthless and living in constant suffering wasn’t worth the minute gems of enjoyment I experienced. I decided to kill myself during a day when I was home alone, to an extent. At the time, my mother worked during the day and my stepfather worked at night, though because of this, he would sleep until a few hours before work. This meant that between six in the morning till four in the afternoon I was without parental supervision, or intervention. I was sixteen at the time, and it was during summer break. I grabbed the sharpest knife we had in the kitchen, sat outside under our patio table and held the blade to my wrists.
I remember thinking about how disappointed my mother would be, how upset or sad she might feel and all the things I have yet to experience. I also thought about all the things my anxiety prevented me from doing, all the things I already missed out on and the painful life I will continue to endure with it. I felt myself tearing up as I began to slowly run the blade over my wrist, until I felt an odd sensation hit my cheek. I stopped and looked over, and there, sitting next to me while licking my tears was the family dog. Blissfully unaware of the current situation, he selfishly helped himself to the salty stream that encompassed my overwhelming depression, and eventual suicide.
I tried to push him away, but he gave me a look of discontent. I tried to explain myself to him, told him why I was doing what I was doing, and again tried to push him away. This time, he walked onto my lap and rested his head on my arm I had began cutting. He sat there comfortable, falling asleep in my lap as I continued crying. I put the knife down, pet his head and began talking to him. I sat there for hours, telling him my fears, my anger, my troubles and all the while, he lay there, saying nothing. I began to feel better, telling all these things to a creature that couldn’t judge me for my feelings, or reprimand me for my actions.
As stupid as it sounds now, my dog stopped me from killing myself, and made me feel better than any person ever had. In the years after, he was always next to me, sitting in the garage as I played games, or lying next to me as I slept. He was my best friend, my soundboard and the reason I am still here today. As worthless as it is, I promised him I would never try and kill myself again, no matter how bad things got. And even when we finally had to put him down, I stood there with him, calmly smiling as he closed his eyes for the last time, thanking him for all he did. I cried harder than I’d ever had that day, and after some years had passed, my mother got another dog. I took ownership of him after her passing, but before then, he acted the same way as my previous companion. He always hung out with me, took naps with me on occasion and listened to me complain. I can safely say that dogs are in every way superior to cats, and yes, I will fight you if try to disagree.
Finally, upon my mother’s passing, I found myself in a deep state of depression. Understandably, I no longer found the drive to push myself, or to desire to live. I lost my support, my crutch and my closest relative. I was left with a void, one that I didn’t ask for, and one that cannot be filled. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t think about her at least once. Regrettably, I also haven’t been attempting to move on either. I want to go back to those times, I want to hear her voice again, hug her, and ask her for advice. Knowing it isn’t possible tears me up, and gives me a feeling of loneliness and depression I’ve never felt before.
I do my best to keep up appearances. I always find a way to joke and laugh, mostly to cover the pain. I keep myself busy, trying to avoid dealing with reality. I sleep as often as I can, so I can avoid being awake longer than necessary. It is a brutal cycle, one that I have continued living with for well past tolerable levels. I hate struggling against my own emotions, trying to find energy to do the things I need to, amid the desire to do nothing at all. I will probably never know a life without depression, and I will certainly never know a life where my mother continued living. However, I try to continue moving forward, I try to tell myself it is worth getting up every day. Forcing myself to do the things I’d rather not and devoid myself the chance to breakdown and cry. Stability isn’t always a sign of coping or moving on. Sometimes it can be just a simple charade to cover up a crippling meltdown waiting to come out.