There’s a lot of metaphors for depression, but right now I want to talk about it as if it’s water. You’re standing on a beach in spring, it’s not warm, but it’s a bright day and you’re enjoying the sunshine, in shirtsleeves and bare feet. Sometimes, when you’re walking around, you accidentally put your foot in a rock pool or the sea itself, and your foot is suddenly cold. It shoots through you, and instead of feeling just the right temperature, you feel cold. Not just your foot, your whole body. And it takes a while to warm the foot back up, even when you’re sitting back on your towel. You remember getting your foot in the water, you feel cold, for a lot longer than you’ve actually been wet for.
If you fall in the sea, you are immediately cold and wet – You don’t remember how nice and normal it felt when you were dry, but when you get back out, you shiver for ages after you get dry again. You look around fearfully for signs of it starting to rain. You’re cold, and the slightest breeze feels like it’s going to send you straight back into shivering in a towel rather than enjoying your day.
I’ve been fragile all year this year, pretty much since my suicide attempt at the end of September, and being in more pain and panic than usual as my coil malfunctioned and I ended up needing hospital treatment, along with the hormonal wreckage that came with it and knocked my usually-stable feelings about my body and gender off their axis, and the re-election of a government that’s actively trying to kill basically everyone I love, and any number of family and friend related things which I refuse to detail here since they’re not my story to tell. It’s been a shit year. I’ve self-harmed probably more than I have done in years, I’ve had more down than up, and I’ve finally accepted that there’s no point in going back to any kind of mental health services, since I’ve tried every family of anti-depressant on the market and they’ve mostly made me worse, and tried all the therapies I’ve been offered, which have either run their course, actually done me harm, or been inappropriate due to not being able to understand that physical health conditions are a barrier to the “Have a nice cup of tea, go for a walk, then have a bubble bath” school of thinking.
Not to mention that by the time I’m at the point of referral, a cup of tea is basically ash in my mouth, a long walk is a tour of all the bodies of water I could drown myself in or trains I could thrown myself under, and a bubble bath is somewhere to make the veins more visible.
And now I can feel the seasons changing. It’s early, but it’s already feeling darker and more golden outside, and that’s bringing on the start of my seasonal problems. It’s as if I missed summer this year, never quite getting the mood increase that goes with sitting in the sunshine and spending all of my time at the pool. This might be the worst part – Where I feel the last of my energy sapping away, the desperate clinging to ritual (Swim every day, make tea with real leaves, eat cereal with oat milk, go downstairs to watch TV) as all desire to do even that tiny amount of stuff drains away and I go into complete hibernation until late February. It’s terrifying, knowing that for the next six months or so I will be piloted around like a drone, with no way of making it better other than the familiar refrain of “Just hang on until after Christmas, you always pick up in the new year”.
Being at the mercy of my own terrible brain chemistry, that can make a long train journey into a fascinating daydream, then turn a long-awaited break in the monotony into nothing more than a horrible chore that I want to hide from, isn’t fair. Especially when I can’t sensibly take refuge in my physical or mental abilities, whether because of pain or exhaustion or simply not being able to concentrate.
This isn’t a life. Stealing two dozen bearable days in a year, in between either conciously recovering from or plummeting headlong into utter bleakness, and being physically trapped in my house by pain, isn’t humane.
I don’t know what to do. I can’t go on.