Depression As Pet

I am bewildered at this last phase of the earliest stage of my life.

One grows up by making pets out of certain emotions; as far as I am concerned, that is aging: finding what moods compliment you and permitting for a gradual distortion (or a narrowing down) of the world, a whittling away of potential as you come to see everything through these one or two particular lenses.

My pet is depression: it is the ineluctable form of my inner life, the outer boundary and also the inner geometry of every thought I think, emotion I feel, and action I consider; I’m going to describe this animal, depression, because — as is clear from my bewilderment— I have nothing else to discuss, to suffer, or to do.

Depression is displacement, it inflates invisibly at the core of any project or circumstance, it pushes everything aside and demands focussed attention and brooding; what it displaces it also obliterates, leaving no trace of what it was that was there before: you wallow, and like an insect you have little left to do but feel (and regret) the beating of your heart, become aware (and resentful) of the dividing of your cells, grow wary of (and impatient with) the process of digestion, with the endurance of Life––you lapse into a state of unsweetened sentience.

Caught up in melancholy’s midst, one then becomes alien, to friends and family, to lovers and obligations, one turns to — if not on — oneself with a bitterness, a white rage that comes from some source unknown, some potency as inconceivable to you in that moment as an electric pulse must be to a tenuous strip of copper: closed circuit, no relief, the world dissipates in liquid pulsation beyond the darkening passageways of vision; misery’s conduction eviscerates clarity of thought and ease of emotion, both replaced by an alien and opaque prism, some craft from beyond the Earth that occupies you, that refracts human thought and feeling into a sustained drone, subhuman, subanimal even, something inorganic––like a bird plummeting with the speed of stone, a planet no longer spinning.

Where once there was intelligence, wit, compassion, and humor, now comes their antitheses: meanness and thickness, coldness and lunacy; these fall together like strands of a braid, forming a chord that ties you to some distant image of yourself you persistently flee, some hateful form you fear you will never grow away from. You begin to seek self-destruction, sabotage: you take on angry poses and abuse the kindness of others; you humiliate yourself with rituals you promised never to revisit. In these circumstances it is always one thought that comes to the fore, that becomes sovereign, that organizes everything around it and turns you into an animal. Animal, because no thought can exist in isolation and not lapse into despotism; you become enslaved to some formula and like an animal you blink and feel and manage nothing else in this despot’s presence.

Blinking and feeling, hatred develops you. Occupied by this foreign object inside you that blackens every view, you turn to some method of inoculation: you binge on alcohol and pain killers, drugs, any and all, you abuse the tissue of your existence, the vehicle of your being, nothing but acidic sentience spreading over the surface of your body, singeing your organs with the hatred of these substances. Blinking and no longer feeling, you carry on bingeing on these potions, imbibing and swallowing, until you are no longer blinking: sleep comes and takes you but it is a cheap sleep; a sleep with a tin can heart beat ringing in your ears, clanging at your soul, telling you to wake back up so that you can sit dumbly in your bed (or wherever you slept) to blink and feel the horrid sentience of depression’s spell. It has not finished with you and you may not enjoy a reprieve. You think of scarring the tissue of your existence, destroying the vehicle of your being, of sweetening the acidity of your nervous system, of resting your organs, of sleep without the beating of hearts.

That is depression, that is what snatches greedily at every week, a rabid pet eating days, life’s negation, the thing swallowing thought.

Because there is nothing more fragile than thought, nothing so weak and in need of protection than inner life. Thinking and feeling, deciding to act, all these proceed as though on a tightrope, oblivious to the forces that want it to fall, to be gone, that want the universe to be rid of this fragile nothing that spins meaning out of necessity and desire out of contingency.

This is depression’s perspective: the universe hates thought and wants it banished.

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