An Evil Seed: A 6 am essay about depression and me

Genesis

I don’t exactly remember how old I was when I was told I had depression, only that it was very young. I must’ve been 8 or 9 years young, newly born into the landscape of 2nd grade at Parkwood Elementary in Shoreline, just north of Seattle.

I remember why my mom first took me to the doctor. I remember telling her that I thought I was ugly and that no one liked me; a sentiment that still weighs itself in my head on a regular basis. Obviously it’s a bit more of a red flag coming from someone who isn’t even 10 yet than from an early 20’s guy. The doctor prescribed me a medication called Paxil, which wasn’t exactly well tested on young, thin boys but my mom (being the smart woman she is) knew that I wasn’t kidding around with how upset I was regularly.

Being depressed when you’re that age is a very odd thing. There was a lot less staying up all night and waking up past noon (although I was late to school everyday, a habit I struggle to break with my job today) and a lot more escapism. It’s easy as a kid to run to the things that bring you solace and ignore the voices in your head. I was a voracious reader from day one that I discovered I could live someone else’s life through books. The librarian at Parkwood said that when I was in 3rd grade I read at a college freshman level, which is almost certainly hyperbolic bullshit.

Around this age is also when I first became a gamer. Magic: The Gathering and Heroclix were taught to me by my aftercare teacher, and my mom and dad bought me a Gameboy color and Pokemon Red (Blue? I can’t remember which).

Basically, I had three or four friends who had semi-similar interests as me, and other than that I was the weird kid who never went out for recess and instead preferred to spend his time reading useless facts out of the library’s only copy of the Guinness Book of World Records. I was physically and emotionally bullied relentlessly at school; a particular incident I will never forget is getting pushed on the ground and literally getting walked on. When I brought these issues to the people I thought could help me at school, most of them told me to suck it up and tell the bully to stop. I never told my parents because I was afraid of being weak (sorry mom and dad!).

My depression at a young age was a seed. A little shriveled tumor in the head of a kid who loved gaming and scifi, biding its time to completely ruin me for the rest of my life.

High School

I know this is a bit of an overplayed cliche, but man high school was hell. I was not at all a fun person to hang out with. This was probably the second worst my depression has ever been. I never showered, and to hide it I always wore jackets with the hood up or hats (backwards, obviously, because I was a special snowflake). I often went to sleep wearing the same clothes I would wear the next day, including underwear, for weeks on end.

Depression taught me I was worth nothing in high school. There was hardly energy for changing clothes in the morning, and the days when there was were only ones when I knew I would be hanging out with girls I was crushing on or had a choir concert. I was of course, supposed to be on medication… but I always threw them to the back of my closet to fake having taken them because I didn’t want to be seen as crazy. I just wanted to be “normal”, to finish essays a few days before they were due, to have a car, for people to laugh at my stories and jokes and like me. I wanted me to like me.

Depression did not allow it. I hated myself for all of my years 14–18. No matter what I told any of you, if any of you are reading this who knew me then… I was lying for your sake. I was on the edge of suicide for weeks on end, because maybe then I wouldn’t have to walk the gray halls of the godforsaken land of Skyline and feel judged by every pair of eyes that had the misfortune of landing on my fat, unclean, terrible body. Those are the thoughts I was filled with then (and sometimes still am). I ate only microwaveable pizza and drank a lot of Mountain Dew (stereotypes are sometimes true) and often didn’t eat at all. I smoked weed for the first time and smoked my first cigarette, hoping that either or both would either kill me quickly or make me “cool”.

I have never said any of this to anyone. No one on God’s green fucking Earth knows how I felt then. It was my personal mission to not bring my friends, the few I had, down with my negativity. I had two modes: in so much fucking pain that the only reasonable release was death or emptiness so grand that it can only be contested by the infinite expanse of the universe.

There was a reprieve, as there often is with depression.

Tiger Mountain

Tiger Mountain Community High School saved my god damn life. I owe it everything. No one in the worthless Issaquah School Administration can take the power that school had away.

For the uninitiated, TMCHS was an alternative school that was shut down by the ISD. It was the “trouble kids” school. There was no homework, and you called your teachers by their first name. There was a designated smoking spot for the kids who smoked, and the campus was all outdoors.

This is what heaven looked like for me.

I won’t bore you with lots of specifics, but suffice it to say Tiger Mountain was my fucking sanctuary. Mine and many others. Sometimes I wish to go back and be a student there, just because something about it made all the branches that evil little seed had become fall away.

I promise I’m getting to the point of all of this.

WARNING: THIS NEXT PART IS REALLY DARK AND PROBABLY DISTURBING

Now

This is the worst my depression has ever been in my life.

There, I said it. Wrote it. Whatever.

It’s really hard to talk about, or to admit it, or to concede myself to how hurt and damaged and insane I am right now. It is hard to admit that the evil seed from my childhood is a redwood tree in my heart, with jet black twigs and burning leaves reaching up into my head. It is all I am now. I hate it. Every step I take is a labor. I have felt my blood pressure drop so low I thought I would faint because I either didn’t have the motivation to make food, or I managed money so poorly that I have no food at all.

I drink so much soda it’s a wonder my blood and saliva hasn’t become carbonated by now. I am more regularly late to work than I have ever been to anything, and when I am at work I take a bathroom break every 45 minutes because I can barely stand anymore. It then becomes a vicious cycle, because I really do love that job and everyone at it so so so so SO FUCKING MUCH IT HURTS because they’ve given me so many opportunities and chances and I am continuing to screw it up and be worthless to them. It astounds me they haven’t fired my sorry ass already.

My sleep schedule is such a catastrophe that I get anywhere from one to fourteen hours of sleep in a day, waking up at 8am or 4pm and going to bed at 9pm or 6am. I started smoking again, which might seem trivial to some, but as someone who has quit more times than the Patriots have made it to the playoffs, it’s pretty fucking disappointing. It’s just another failure to myself and to the people who care about me.

Every joking comment about my musical tastes or about what kind of person I am or my weight or my looks is a needle in my ear poking at my eardrum. I remember every negative thing anyone has said to me in the last three months.

My nightmares have become fantasies, wherein I die swiftly and peacefully, and my funeral is well attended and has much revelry. The dreams I fear most are the ones where I am happy, when the people I love or have loved forgive me and sit by me in my disease. The dreams where I am successful, where I am loved by someone and we build a life with kids and a house and all the things I’ve wanted all my life are the ones that terrify me. I am more comfortable in my depression than in actual happiness.

Some of you who read this will immediately think the worst. That I am contemplating the sweet peaceful release of suicide. I promise I am not. This is the worst I’ve ever been, yes… but the part of me that loves each and every one of you will not let me leave you. Not for me or for my life, but for you and yours. I will not fight my wrists with knives, or attack my neck with a rope and knot.

I have refused to ask for help because I don’t believe I deserve it. There are some amazing people I know (many of whom will read this in a few hours, I’m sure) and they all want to help, and that’s great… but they should help themselves first. I should never be the focus of anyone’s efforts, for any reason.

Why I Wrote This

To be honest, I wrote it for me. I needed to. And I will share it on that most public of social medias, Facebook, because I want people to know. Because I’m tired of crying in my bed alone and fighting this by myself.

I wrote this because I want people to stop stigmatizing me. I want people to stop believing in broken people from mental disorders, and to understand better what the apparently hyper introverted friend you have is going through.

When you live with depression, the sun becomes a font of lethargy instead of energy and food is sand and water is dry. Sleep is wonderful and hateful. Every razor bump on your neck and every tiny pimple on your face is an imperfection you will not escape. Clothes weigh 1000 pounds and music is bland and meaningless.

The most important thing for you, the bystander, to know is that you can help me. You can help us. All it takes is understanding and patience. Do not try to solve the depressed head’s problems, because you can’t. I don’t care if you think you can, you can’t. All you can do is be here, with us. When we tell you that no, we aren’t going out with you tonight, say okay.

This seed that it is many of us will stay there for the rest of our lives. I can not kill it. It is a part of me. All I can do is chop it down, trim it when I have the energy. Be understanding when I tell you sometimes it’s hard to lift the axe.

It is tough for us to just exist sometimes. You being here reminds us that sometimes all we need to do is exist.

Thanks for reading. Call your parents and tell them you miss them. They miss you.

-Neil ❤

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