Author’s Note: This is a repost from an earlier version of Dunebat Country.
Sometimes I forget my meds. Sometimes my blood sugar climbs too high. Sometimes a paycheck arrives way too late, the power goes out, the wrong animal crosses over my gravesite in the future, the rain falls upward, or the moon shines in the wrong color. Sometimes, things just go wrong.
A little more of me dies inside.
I’ve learned over the years that, no matter how much I try to think logically or play the Stoic, my emotional humors govern me far more than I care to admit. The problem with something like Bipolar II crushing your mind in its tyrannical, iron-fisted grip is that your emotional gradient trends toward the depressive at most times. It’s easy for me to think, “At least with Bipolar I you get those manic highs,” but I know that thought is wrong because “manic” can often mean “I can’t control myself when I’m feeling this ecstatic for no reason whatsoever…” but as someone who doesn’t get to feel ecstasy very often, I sometimes (irrationally) envy my Bipolar I brothers and sisters.
Those with relatively normative psychological make-ups get to truly feel the full emotional spectrum in all its multicolored splendor. I feel other emotions besides maudlin, sure, but I usually feel them alongside maudlin. The depression is still there — it’s been lurking in the back of my mind since high school, so it probably isn’t going anywhere — even as I laugh at jokes,1 fume about something aggravating, or am stirred within by something emotionally arousing. The depression is there through it all, walking one patient step behind me, one guiding hand always on my shoulder. It often remains in the background like a quiet puppet master; many times, however, it throws me to the ground and claws away at my will to exist until the only sensible action left to take is to sleep it off and pray tomorrow’s skies won’t be so gray.
That never happens, though. My skies are always gray.
I’ve begun to love gray skies…
Normies have told me that what I wear affects my mood, so I should start wearing bright colors — or, at least, other colors than my preferred black — to brighten my mood. That never works. I wear red; my skies are still gray. I wear camo green; my skies are still gray. When laundry day is almost upon me and I start running out of clean black clothing, I’ll wear the sky blue uniform shirt I used to wear when I worked as a security guard and dull navy blue pants, and my skies are still gray. The gray never goes away. It keeps growing darker and moodier and swallowing up more of the color in my world until all I see is gray or black.
This is why I continue wearing mostly black: if my heart is headed in that direction, I might as well commit.
And that grayness is always hungry. It eats away at more of you until that gray is all that’s left. Remember that thing you loved so much, that show you watched endlessly until you could repeat lines from the script as if you’d starred in an episode or that book you read cover-to-cover multiple times in an effort to discern every metaphor like an occultist searching for meaning in the stars? Give depression a few years and you won’t even care about it anymore. You may even grow to hate it.2 Go ahead: try to find something else to love in its place. You’ll grow indifferent toward it, too. Maybe you’ll still love it, though you won’t be able to feel that passionate, all-consuming attachment the way you initially felt you first discovered it. Maybe you’ll just give up one day and stop watching, listening to, reading, or otherwise consuming any media instead. What’s the point, right? It’ll all fade into nothing someday anyway.
This is probably why so many of us depressives — particularly those of us also afflicted with OCD3 — find it difficult to find new media to enjoy, or why we’ll play a song or movie we still do enjoy on endless repeat for a while. We finally found that one thing that depression hasn’t completely devoured yet, and we’re getting our money’s worth out of it while we can.
Over time, this includes hobbies I once found enjoyable. When I actually feel up to writing anything, I tend to write notes for stories. It’s hard to write actual conversations or scenes anymore, so finding the inspiration for a story idea or an outline feels like finding gold amidst garbage… until I lose the will — lose the gold — again, and the darkness washes over me.
This is what I call “dead time”. Time still passes, but you’re either sitting there zoned out, focusing on meaningless trivialities that don’t actually matter because it’s better than floating in the sea of nothingness in your mind, or you’re asleep because being unconscious is better than facing the merciless, droning mental Hellscape you awake in daily. Eventually, that dead time claims your mind as well as your time.
You’ll know it when you see the flat emotional effect — that empty expression on your face — staring back at you in the mirror, with eyes so lost in the gray within you that you almost think your irises have gone completely black.
I’ve been lost in dead time so often you’d think I’d have the place mapped out by now, but there’s no way to chart an ocean when you’re stuck in a raft without a compass in overcast skies.
You just keep floating and pray you’ll hit land soon.
- …When I can laugh at jokes, that is. Jokes are still funny, I just can’t laugh at many of them. I have to fake laughter sometimes just so people don’t realize there’s probably more wrong with me than they initially believe, though certain individuals who’ve known me long enough can see right through that.
- Hollywood stars you love being outed as perverts or pedophiles on a daily basis might also have something to do with that.
- No, that old joke that it should be “CDO” isn’t funny, and it never was. Quit it already. You’re not original, and you’re not funny.