I haven't made a post here in forever. I know. But it's five-thirty in the morning and I feel the need to talk about something.
In the last few months, a lot of people that I know or have come across in various places online have been struggling with depression. I have reached out to each and every one of them. I have to. I know that struggle all to well. I know what its like to be in the hardest fight of your life, just looking for someone to take up arms and fight with you, only to find that there's no one behind you. It's, there's no way to describe it. If you haven't been there yourself, you don't know, and if you have, you know that nothing you can say will ever fully encompass the full weight of sadness that deep. It's not a fleeting moment, it's not a bad day, it's a dark cloud that never lifts. The most accurate description I can think of comes from Prozac Nation.
"Some catastrophic moments invite clarity, explode in split moments: You smash your hand through a windowpane and then there is blood and shattered glass stained with red all over the place; you fall out a window and break some bones and scrape some skin. Stitches and casts and bandages and antiseptic solve and salve the wounds. But depression is not a sudden disaster. It is more like a cancer: At first its tumorous mass is not even noticeable to the careful eye, and then one day -- wham! -- there is a huge, deadly seven-pound lump lodged in your brain or your stomach or your shoulder blade, and this thing that your own body has produced is actually trying to kill you. Depression is a lot like that: Slowly, over the years, the data will accumulate in your heart and mind, a computer program for total negativity will build into your system, making life feel more and more unbearable. But you won't even notice it coming on, thinking that it is somehow normal, something about getting older, about turning eight or turning twelve or turning fifteen, and then one day you realize that your entire life is just awful, not worth living, a horror and a black blot on the white terrain of human existence. One morning you wake up afraid you are going to live."
So lately this thing, its been all around me, I see it's effects everywhere. I find myself reaching out in the darkness, holding a light up for this person or that, to voices I've never heard, faces I've only seen in pictures. I've made post after post after post, comment after comment, holding my hand out to strangers. Lately, I have to wonder if maybe that's why I'm still here. To be that person that I didn't have in my life for so long. The random stranger that offers a moment of kindness that changes everything.
I'm not trying to come across as a self-righteous person. I'm not here to toot my own horn. It's just something that's been drifting in and out of my mind lately.
I'm also not saying that there isn't struggles, that i'm 100% cured. I'm not. I never will be. There's days that suck. It's been hard for me the last couple of days, actually. What I am saying is that it does get easier. It won't always be so dark. I know that you may not see any light at the end of the tunnel, any end to this, and maybe I'm still looking for those things too, but I can tell you that something must be up ahead, because with every little step forward, it gets a little lighter, the weight a little less heavy.
My therapist has asked me more than once what I do when everything is falling apart, people want advice on how to get through this, and the honest answer is that it's different for everyone. For some people its coloring, for some, its work, for others, its religion. Some days I don't know how I get through it. But I will tell you the best advice I ever got.
About two years ago, I found myself sitting in an emergency room in some shitty little hospital in North Carolina curled on my side, holding onto the blanket they'd given me for dear life. To this day, I don't know how I got there, not literally, but emotionally. All I know is that day, I couldn't promise safety. I couldn't look anyone in the eye and honestly say that I would make it another week. I laid in that room more empty than i've ever been. I thought I had nothing left to fight for, and i'd accepted that. I had people across the room and states away who loved me, and yet somehow it just wasn't enough to stay through the pain. I was on meds and they weren't working and I just knew that it was over for me. That I'd well and truly been beaten down for the last time.
Then the psychologist came in, and though I was prepared to just lie through it, to get out of there and go home and end everything, he said something to me that changed it all.
He'd heard that I love to write and do other creative things, and he asked me if I had a muse. I nodded, thinking "Dude, what the actual fuck are you getting at here, stfu. I'm no mood for small talk."
He asked me questions about my muse, and he didn't look at me like I was insane when I talked about him. What he did do, was he looked me dead in the eye and he told me to hold on to that. To trust my muse. To listen to him and let him lead me out of the dark. He asked me if I liked him, and I was like, "what are you fucking crazy, I love him." and He reminded me that, that muse of mine, that I love so much? He's a part of me. A part of me that I find worth keeping, and he told me that as long as I remembered that, and I trusted in him, I have a reason to hold on.
You will never, ever know how much that meant. It changed everything, and to this day, when things are bad, I close my eyes, and I look for my muse. I look for that little light, and I follow it.
So my advice is this: Maybe you don't have a muse. That's okay. Just find one thing that you do have. One thing you like about yourself. Maybe its your eyes or your smile or your laugh. Maybe you have a talent that means a lot to you, or maybe you just like to rejoice in the fact that your dad's snoring like a chainsaw gene seemed to have mercifully skipped you. Find that one thing. That's all you have to do. Find something worthwhile and hold on tight. Because as long as you can find something that you like about yourself, you have one incredibly powerful reason to stick around. To try to get through all this shit that's gotten you down.
Just hold on.