Depression sneaks up on me like a mugger on a dark and lonely night.
I can walk into a dark alley knowing the mugger could be there, but I’m still surprised when the shadowy figure steps into my path and demands everything I have and then leaves me bleeding. That happened again tonight — and I’m in a dark hole trying to crawl back into the light.
Many people have far worse struggles with depression than I do. Some people feel suicidal, but I never have. Some people are unable to function well enough to support themselves, but I can make it through a day without most people realizing there’s anything wrong. Some people get hit with crippling bouts of depression and can’t even tell you why.
But I know why I slip into that dark hole every now and then. I walk a fine line between sanity and madness. I know sanity well and live there as my native land, but I’m sensitive to the siren song that comes from the chaos of madness.
When I’m lonely, I get too close to the rocky shadows where those sirens live.
I’m comfortable in either world — the world of the sane and the world of the mad. I live among the sane — those “normal” people who don’t even understand depression — and they think I’m one of them. But when I find myself among those who suffer on the other side of the line, there’s something familiar there, too. I can understand them. I feel as though I could have been one of them if I were wired just a bit differently.
So I have this existence in the shadows between sanity and madness, understanding both and wishing each group could understand the part of me which identifies with the other.
I’m pulled to the shadows of madness — where I meet the mugger called depression, if you don’t mind me mixing metaphors — when my need becomes great enough.
I know no way to fill the need which I have, so I repress the feeling as much as I can. I pull it out every now and then and contemplate it — just to keep from going completely crazy — but I put it back into a box. I keep telling myself something will change — that love will finally come and stay.
That hope is the only thing that keeps me on the sane side of the line. If I believed the rest of life would be this way, I might slip into a very dark place for good. But I keep holding onto my faith that love is coming and that loneliness will end.
When this depression catches me by surprise, it fills me with despair and makes it difficult for me to ignore the things about this world which hurt me so much — things I’m always aware of but typically can push aside.
When I’m down in this dark place, it’s too easy for me to notice how often bright people believe crazy and unsupported narratives about politics or society or reality. In my heart, I want to believe people are essentially rational and that reason can win in the end. When I’m in this weakened state — in this dark place — I see how crazy some otherwise-bright folks really are.
When I’m in this place, it’s also too easy for me to see how much people enjoy it when their enemies suffer. People don’t just disagree with their enemies. They hate them. They react with positive glee when their enemies are hurt — and this hatred gets me down.
When I’m in this dark place, it’s difficult not to see the ugliness of the world in cold and clear terms. Seeing this so clearly makes me eager to build my own family and try to escape all this — if such a place of escape can still be found.
I hate what it feels like in this dark hole, but I can’t deny the reality of what it does when I’m pulled down into it. It fills me with fear that one day I’ll stay down. It makes me fear that I’ll never find the love and understanding which I so desperately crave — and which I so desperately want to give.
I’m lucky that I’m not one of those who lives in this dark place all the time. I’m lucky that these bouts occur only when I’m the most painfully lonely. I know this could be worse.
But when I’m feeling this way — when it feels as though a mugger has taken everything I have and left me bleeding in a dark alley — it’s hard to be grateful. It’s a struggle just to get up and move on.
I’ll pull myself out of this once more. I’ll go through my day tomorrow without anyone sensing what’s going on. But inside, I’ll be waiting for a long-needed change to finally come. I need to move away from that rocky and shadowy borderland leading to madness — and the only way to do that is to finally find relief for this crippling loneliness which stabs at my heart and tortures my soul.