Empty-headed. It’s so strange. It’s like being sad. But not just being sad. It’s different to just being sad. It’s an existential numbness.
What the hell is wrong? Lights strobe a sanguine shade of red. A siren shrieks, it’s high pitched and deafening. But it manages to be more silent than an ant walking along a floor.
I sit. It doesn’t matter where. It doesn’t matter how. And it’s uncomfortable because my brain tells me it is. The world is dull and it doesn’t matter, and the people I surround myself with don’t care. So, I sit in my bedroom, alone. Just me and my sad brain. But I’m starting to realise I’m not just sad. My head is heavy. Not physically heavy, my neck isn’t crumbling under the new and unexpected weight, but it’s still physically heavy. The chemicals are weighing it down.
I’ll shower. Wash it all away and when the feeling of hot water slipping soothingly from my heavy head to the floor doesn’t wash away the chemicals, what can I do? Rip out my brain. Claw silently over my scalp and feel the millions of hair follicles reave but I can’t feel the door to get into my brain. My skull is a prison for my consciousness, but my brain manages to escape every day.
So, sit. Sit in the warmth. Sit in the cold. Sit upside-down and sideways. I eventually sit in a comfy chair. A person who knows nothing about me but knows the chemicals that fill every nook and cranny of my prison. Just because they have Doctor in front of their name doesn’t mean they know everything about me.
“How often do you feel down?” I can’t remember when I didn’t. I have brief flashes of my childhood. I can’t remember being happy. Chemicals stain every memory.
“I can’t help you if you don’t talk to me.” They can’t help. I’m depressed. The Doctor says I’m depressed.
What’s going on!? It hurts. It all hurts. Mostly my arms. But physical pain doesn’t come close the pain in my head. What can I do when I can’t claw out my brain and can’t replace the pain? Sit in a bath full of water with bubbles and candles. Warm water used to be comforting but it’s now too hot. The heat boils against my sensitive scars. I get out of the bath and stands in front of the mirror. My lips are cut, dripping blood because I’ve developed a habit of biting them. And my body. Fat and disgusting. Covered in scars no one sees. But everything I see is distant. I objectively see myself, but my consciousness can’t recognise that it’s me. It might as well belong to someone else.
Depersonalisation, depression. Final diagnosis. Final words? Not yet. More yet. More things. More people. Don’t care. Care more. You’re depressed. They say. They’re right. I accept. I’m done.
It’s fine. My brain starts to acknowledge that I am real, and everything around me is real. My consciousness can’t believe it. They fight about it constantly. Bickering like children. Two devils on my shoulder. But now I can see the leaves falling from the trees in autumn and the rain falling into them in summer. It isn’t beautiful yet, but it’s a distraction. It’s not happy. My consciousness denies me of that delight.
Still depressed. Still spaced. Still nothing. No beauty. Not yet. It’s pointless. You think? So much time. So much time depressed. So much time feeling nothing. Too much time not recognising yourself. You now refer to your consciousness in second person.
“WHY AM I SAD?” You finally scream. Literally. No sirens, no flashing lights. It’s quiet in your bedroom and you scream. Your rib cage throbs as you sob. Breathe all your air out and sit on empty. Let it sit and let your life slip away briefly. Like your head is, again. If there’s nothing in your head, then there will be nothing in your lungs. There will be nothing in your veins.
Not yet. Need time. Empty lungs. It hurts. Not enough. Blood appears. Better now.
Pain exists. You can’t remember what happy feels like. Until they come along. A beautiful fall day with orange-green leaves scattered on the ground. A pumpkin spice latte with perfectly shaped whipped cream. A boy with a beanie. A perfect smile. A perfect laugh. They write poetry. He seems happy. He is now your lifeline. You see them. You really see them. And you’re happy. It’s strange. But you like it. This person is the one thing your brain and consciousness agree is good.
Fall days turn to winter months of heavy duvet covers and cuddles to keep each other warm. Water based hot chocolates for him and milk-based mochas for her. The first snow spent under a leafless tree. He calls a few times a day just to hear your voice. His eyes sparkle. He’s warm. He tells you he loves you, and of course you love him too. Because he’s your lifeline and without him you know you’ll fall back down the cliff.
Winter gets warmer and colours get brighter. A pop of a yellow flower here and a pink lipstick there. His beanie turns to a hat you bought him for Christmas. Coffee shop meetings and phone calls asking, “Do you have my insert article of clothing?” turns to apartment hunting and buying furniture. A sofa here and a queen-sized bed there. A coffee maker and a good quality frying pan. He buys fairy lights and a polaroid camera because he knows you’ll like them. It feels like home.
You learn a lot about someone when you live with them. Lovely things like their favourite childhood memories; they make incredible ravioli from scratch; they take naps at two pm every Saturday. But you also learn the less lovely things, like they leave the toilet paper flap on the wrong side; they leave plates in the sink for days; they’re often depressed.
Depressed and in love. Never a good combination. But your brain and consciousness have found something they agree on. And your consciousness can’t help but be happy when you are around them. You smile at their dumb jokes and their silly traits. You genuinely smile. And it feels incredible. You feel higher than a kite, soaking up all the happy chemicals in your brain. They are your lifeline. You’ve successfully built your happiness around them.
Spring turns to summer and temperatures reach boiling point. If the rule ‘opposites attract’ applied we wouldn’t have this problem. One sad person plus another sad person equals a difficult situation. One person doesn’t want to get out of bed when it’s their turn to do the dishes or the washing. One person doesn’t want to go out and get groceries because they need to relax or sleep or actually study for once. One of you spends too long in the shower because you’re lost in suicidal thought and now the water bill is too high.
Summer turns back to fall but it’s not like the last. Pumpkin spice lattes now taste off and have smooshed whipped cream because your the barista at your favourite café has changed. Leaves don’t bring you joy and he’s moving out. But it’s just ‘a break’ even if he returns the hat you gave him and doesn’t call as much.
“STAY PLEASE!” They are really gone. It’s done. The happiness of being with someone is gone. Your heart aches all the time. Your head is heavy and your consciousness silently screams at you. Fleeting images of feeling sunlight on your bare back and feelings of happiness cross your brain when you’re sad. Your brain tries to cheer you up with memories, but it only hurts your heart.
Heart break. You can’t breathe when you think about him. And everything you do makes you think about them. Because you built your happiness around them but you also build your future on the possibility of what they could do. And now your happiness is gone, their presence is missed, memories are attached to the furniture you bought together that is still there. The clothes and your bed smell like him. And whenever you smile… You smile like them. You learned from them like a child.
“Everything will get better, just give it time.” Says the Doctor as he prescribes medication that will change the chemicals.
“Everything will get better, just give it time.” Says your mother who has been married four times, who drinks whisky at midday, who is clearly the best remodel for everything getting better in time.
If “everything will get better” in time, how much time? Because you’ve given it time and time has made everything worse. How much time will it take for those pills to work? How much time will it take if you take them all?
You’re depressed. You accepted it. Scorching bath. Blood. Ellipsism gone. Pills are gone. He is gone. More blood. Lightheaded. Another minute. You’re all gone. Who knew?
10 missed calls from Mum.
12 missed calls from Him.
Text message from Him: Hey I just wanted to make sure everything’s okay.
Text message from Him: Hey your mum called me, she’s a bit worried. Call one of us please.
Text message from Him: Hey can you pick up your phone?!
Text message from Him: If you don’t pick up I’m calling the police and I’ll be really pissed if they show up and you’re just watching Netflix or in the shower or something.
Text message from Him: They’re on their way, I’m driving up as well. If you see this before we get there, please call me. Love you.