Black clouds. Rain clouds. Grey clouds. Large black dogs with floppy ears and wobbly feet. Shadowy hands holding you back. Globs of dark fur, drenched in the rain, peering at you through an alleyway as deep as dreadful. All these things, and I’m sure many more, have been ways that people have tried to visualize depression.
For me, I’ve always considered it a bit more comically, more commercially even. Do you remember that little guy from the Zoloft commercials? It’s so cute, but so sad, so small yet so poignant, altogether insignificant.
It’s a frown, a sigh, an expression of anguish or uncertainty as the weather darkens, but you look outside and it’s still sunny and warm.
Perhaps it helps to visualize depression. Perhaps it helps to make it human. Or perhaps putting a face to these feelings isn’t at all what we need.
It’s been a few days since I wrote last. On Wednesday I felt like an emotional wreck–a feeling that had been building up for days since parting ways with my boyfriend. But it wasn’t just emotions at play, you see, and when I realized what else was going on, things took a drastic change in direction.
A week ago I landed in Mexico City and for the first time hugged the man I love. I had played out the moment of our meeting in my head for months–I’d painstakingly visualized everything I would wear in preparation for that one moment–and each time I thought of it, another scenario played out. In one, I awkwardly said hello and we just sort of stood there. In another, we kissed as passionately as I could imagine.
Instead, when I saw him, I rushed up to him, and in unison we embraced each other in a hug that lasted for such a long, precious moment. His arms curled around my back perfectly, and as mine wove around his body, it felt as if we had been shaped for each other. In that one moment, I knew all the love I felt for him was as deep and profound in person as it had been over the months we’d been seeing each other online.
One year ago, as I walked the brick path around its first bend on my way to class, I saw the trees in crystal clarity. Every leaf was outlined in high-resolution detail. I felt excited. Thankful that I was alive. That I was negative.
But just as quickly all that happiness turned to hatred.
What had I done? How could I have been so stupid? So reckless?
A little more than two years ago I wrote The Plight of Paper People, reflecting on the coming close of one chapter of life as the new pages unfolded before me. I described people as paper, able to be torn and taped back together, able to be colored upon or crumpled up and tossed aside.
The changes I spoke of looming on the horizon are all the changes that have now happened, and like those paper people, I feel torn up and taped together, stained and set aside.
And when that web came, I got caught up in it. No matter which direction I pulled, the strings held me back. Each crystalline thread became a chain, and somewhere just out of sight, I knew there was a demon lurking waiting to wrap me in its poison, and swallow me whole, my lungs still full of air, my heart still beating, still bleeding.
No matter what I did, I couldn’t escape. I could change my perspective, look up or look down, turn my eyes and scan the horizon, but I was still tied in place. Only if someone could come and cut me down would I be freed from this torment. Only if I there were someone nearby.
But for all I could see, I was alone. There was no one.