- Quirk NLS
Living With Depression
The author of this piece has chosen to stay anonymous. The illustration is by Pravidhi Rawat (B.A., LL.B. (Hons.) Batch of 2026).
Maybe it will, maybe it won’t, but I will fight!
-August 13, 2022.
“I felt a funeral in my brain, and mourners to
and fro kept treading,
treading till I felt that sense was breaking through.
And when they all were seated,
a service, like a drum, kept beating, beating,
till I felt my mind was going numb.
And then I heard them lift a box and creak across my soul with
those same boots of lead again,
then space began to toll as if the heavens were a bell
and being were an ear, and I, and silence,
some strange race wrecked, solitary here.
Just then, a plank in reason broke,
and I fell down and down and hit a world, at every
plunge, and finished knowing then.”
We know depression through metaphors. Emily Dickinson was able to convey it in language,
Goya in an image, […]
I can never claim to have as much clarity of thought and expression through speech as Andrew Solomon. The excerpt above is from a TED Talk he did in 2013 wherein he put emotion (rather, the lack thereof) into words. Never have I related to spoken words as much as I have with the excerpt put above. Taking a page from his book, here is my attempt at trying to express depression, basically nothingness, through words.
Ever been dopy and drugged while awake? Sleepy yet dazed? I have and still do. Most days, sleeping seems like an imposition. An arduous hassle. Let me help you picture it, though I would never wish it upon you, but here it is.
Almost every single day my nights go like this – I am in and out of consciousness but never content during the ordeal. In brief moments, I am lucid enough to exist and am conscious of where I am and this is where everything goes to shit. I can feel the agony, the hurt, the unbearable yet mind-numbing agony, but I cannot do anything about it. It’s like sleep paralysis: I cannot move and the only difference is that the nightmare never ends. Sometimes I don’t even want it to end because I don’t know what I’d be without it. The hurt I feel is not the pain of any physical kind like (say) stitches or something, but the kind that paralyzes you while your mind takes over and makes you live, simply existing. It (existing) is painful, any thought I have is painful, and I don’t have to have such feelings, but I cannot do anything. I am paralyzed, asleep yet lucid enough to be conscious. So, I can’t shut it off. It is very real but I understand why it may sound like a work of fiction. It is full of contradictions, in fact, it is a contradiction. I wish it were unreal because it hurts and I cannot point it out to ‘fix’ it, I cannot help it. It constricts me yet it doesn’t physically bind me. It’s like I am a carcass with a beating heart, but one that decays only from the inside.
Yesterday I was in mental agony. My heart was racing, for brief moments I was sweating and yet feeling cold. My mind actually hurt. Mind, not the head. I felt so exhausted. I feel like these words aren’t doing justice to what I experienced that day. Time was passing by so slowly in these moments yet it flew by in an instant when I was lucky enough to be actually ‘asleep,’ rather unconscious. I did not like the feeling at all. One thing that was somewhat comforting throughout this whole ordeal, perhaps, my silver lining was when I woke up, I saw myself in a dark room. The surroundings resembled my mind. Empty yet cluttered and dark yet white – the grey kind, dull. It was somehow comforting. Maybe because it seemed like a familiar place. I have experienced this before as well. At home, there’s this corridor from my room to the back living room. At night it’s quite dark and it resembles what I imagine my mind to be. Lonely and dark, lovely yet scary, never frightening. It’s just the darkness I am too familiar with. I know of it. There are depths to it, exploring the entirety of which would consume me. But it’s familiar. Which is why I am not scared. There is comfort in this panic.
I don’t feel much — enjoyment and pleasure seem to have waned away. To be very honest, I’m not sure if I even remember how it felt, it’s been so long. I remember there was a term for it – anhedonia. I like this word. Sounds very sophisticated. It’s like the thought of doing things that I ‘like’ is less bad than the actual act of doing it. The anticipation tells a different story but the reality is disappointing. Songs, food, interaction, talking, even cooking. I don’t have the apparatus for it here but the thought of cooking seems nice to me but in my head when I actually act out the whole thing, it seems like a tall order; and I keep on asking myself – “To what end?” I am not going to eat it, someone else may but then what? Blank. Running maybe… it helped in the past, but to what end? What am I running from (cliché)? Even writing this out is different, before I started, the anticipation in my mind was higher. I was expecting a release of some sort and it’s just disappointment which is all too familiar.
Everything I eat is flavourful, yet tasteless. I can taste stuff, but it’s just not the same. I can’t put my finger on it. The same is with songs or pretty much everything else. It’s all so dull and I feel this pressure from within to act not like myself around people; I cannot be in the spotlight. Just no. Weirdly, all of this seems right. Seems like all of this is the right course of action, that this is how things are supposed to be. A part of me wants things to be this way, because it is familiar and perhaps the best I will ever get. I just want to sit in a corner, unnoticed, and let everything happen and end soon. It’s all so dull, it’s frustrating. I can’t even sleep that much, because I just wake up very soon because of my racing heart and then I feel awful yet indifferent. Part of me constantly has this extremely overwhelming urge to cry and some weeks ago I gave into it. At least I tried to, but nothing happened. The tears wouldn’t just come out. I could feel them forming but that’s all I could feel. I don’t think I have cried properly in years. It may be therapeutic, who knows!
Heavy stuff, I know. That’s just about 3–4 hours’ worth of a glimpse into my mind. Life at NLS can be very hectic. Sometimes I appreciate the ‘rigour,’ for it keeps me at bay, it keeps me away from myself. But I have hope. I have no idea where it comes from but I do have it. The idea of hope has baffled me and… I don’t know, I’ll just show you
A: (______), do you think it will go away?
S: Maybe it will maybe it won’t, but I’ll fite,
A: but why?
S: because I can control what I do; I can’t control what it does.