In a strange way, I had fallen in love with my depression. Dr. Sterling was right about that. I loved it because I thought it was all I had. I thought depression was the part of my character that made me worthwhile. I thought so little of myself, felt that I had such scant offerings to give to the world, that the one thing that justified my existence at all was my agony.
I don't think it's really about being bitchy or demanding or cold or calculating: those characteristics, after all, can be attached to most women with even the paltriest of evidence. I think, quite frankly, that the world simply does not care for the complicated girls, the ones who seem too dark, too deep, too vibrant, too opinionated...
Embrace fanaticism. Harness joie de vivre by pursuing insane interests, consuming passions, and constant sources of gratification that do not depend on the approval of others
I think, quite frankly, that the world simply does not care for the complicated girls, the ones who seem too dark, too deep, too vibrant, too opinionated, the ones who are so intriguing that new men fall in love with them every day, at every meal where there's a waiter, in every taxi and on every train they board, in any instance where someone can get to know them just a little bit, just enough to get completely gone. But most men in the end don't quite have the stomach for that much person.
After all, as it says on a needlepoint sampler or throw pillow or the occasional bumper sticker: Good girls go to heaven, but bad girls go everywhere. In high heels. Or mules by Manolo Blahnik, the strappy, tangly kind that give you blisters. And when their feet start to hurt, they bitch about it a lot, until someone agrees to carry them home. Bad girls understand that there is no point in being good and suffering in silence. What good has good ever done? We women still only make seventy-one cents, on average, for every man's dollar. We still have to listen to studies telling us that a single woman over the age of 35 had best avoid airplanes because she is more likely to die in a terrorist attack than get married.
Because, frankly, I have a tough time feeling that feminism has done a damn bit of good if I can't be the way I am and have the world accommodate it on some level.
Many of the people who consented to talk about their private lives in front of millions of television viewers would say that they were sharing their stories as a way to give comfort [to] fellow sufferers, to raise public awareness, to give a voice to their pain. None of them would ever admit that it was all about ratings and voyeurism and lurid, grotesque curiosity.
At first, I was shocked that Diane could even suggest this family reunion [on television], and then I realized this is just the way of the world, or at least the way of fin de siecle America. Not only would the next revolution be televised, but so would every other little stupid thing. It was already happening: Television reunions between adopted children and their birth parents...
That's the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it's impossible to ever see the end.
Some friends don't understand this. They don't understand how desperate I am to have someone say, I love you and I support you just the way you are because you're wonderful just the way you are. They don't understand that I can't remember anyone ever saying that to me. I am so demanding and difficult for my friends because I want to crumble and fall apart before them so that they will love me even though I am no fun, lying in bed, crying all the time, not moving. Depression is all about If you loved me you would.
I'm the girl who is lost in space, the girl who is disappearing always, forever fading away and receding farther and farther into the background. Just like the Cheshire cat, someday I will suddenly leave, but the artificial warmth of my smile, that phony, clownish curve, the kind you see on miserably sad people and villains in Disney movies, will remain behind as an ironic remnant. I am the girl you see in the photograph from some party someplace or some picnic in the park, the one who is in fact soon to be gone. When you look at the picture again, I want to assure you, I will no longer be there. I will be erased from history, like a traitor in the Soviet Union. Because with every day that goes by, I feel myself becoming more and more invisible...
I don't want any more of this try, try again stuff. I just want out. I’ve had it. I am so tired. I am twenty and I am already exhausted.
I feel like a defective model, like I came off the assembly line flat-out fucked and my parents should have taken me back for repairs before the warranty ran out.
At heart, I have always been a coper, I've mostly been able to walk around with my wounds safely hidden, and I've always stored up my deep depressive episodes for the weeks off when there was time to have an abbreviated version of a complete breakdown. But in the end, I'd be able to get up and on with it, could always do what little must be done to scratch by.
Some catastrophic moments invite clarity, explode in split moments: You smash your hand through a windowpane and then there is blood and shattered glass stained with red all over the place; you fall out a window and break some bones and scrape some skin. Stitches and casts and bandages and antiseptic solve and salve the wounds. But depression is not a sudden disaster. It is more like a cancer: At first its tumorous mass is not even noticeable to the careful eye, and then one day -- wham! -- there is a huge, deadly seven-pound lump lodged in your brain or your stomach or your shoulder blade, and this thing that your own body has produced is actually trying to kill you. Depression is a lot like that: Slowly, over the years, the data will accumulate in your heart and mind, a computer program for total negativity will build into your system, making life feel more and more unbearable. But you won't even notice it coming on, thinking that it is somehow normal, something about getting older, about turning eight or turning twelve or turning fifteen, and then one day you realize that your entire life is just awful, not worth living, a horror and a black blot on the white terrain of human existence. One morning you wake up afraid you are going to live.In my case, I was not frightened in the least bit at the thought that I might live because I was certain, quite certain, that I was already dead. The actual dying part, the withering away of my physical body, was a mere formality. My spirit, my emotional being, whatever you want to call all that inner turmoil that has nothing to do with physical existence, were long gone, dead and gone, and only a mass of the most fucking god-awful excruciating pain like a pair of boiling hot tongs clamped tight around my spine and pressing on all my nerves was left in its wake.That's the thing I want to make clear about depression: It's got nothing at all to do with life. In the course of life, there is sadness and pain and sorrow, all of which, in their right time and season, are normal -- unpleasant, but normal. Depression is an altogether different zone because it involves a complete absence: absence of affect, absence of feeling, absence of response, absence of interest. The pain you feel in the course of a major clinical depression is an attempt on nature's part (nature, after all, abhors a vacuum) to fill up the empty space. But for all intents and purposes, the deeply depressed are just the walking, waking dead.And the scariest part is that if you ask anyone in the throes of depression how he got there, to pin down the turning point, he'll never know. There is a classic moment in The Sun Also Rises when someone asks Mike Campbell how he went bankrupt, and all he can say in response is, 'Gradually and then suddenly.' When someone asks how I love my mind, that is all I can say too
It is so hard to learn to put sadness in perspective so hard to understand that it is a feeling that comes in degrees, it can be a candle burning gently and harmlessly in your home, or it can be a full-fledged forest fire that destroy almost everything and is controlled by almost nothing. It can also be so much in-between
I start to think there really is no cure for depression, that happiness is an ongoing battle, and I wonder if it isn't one I'll have to fight for as long as I live. I wonder if it's worth it.
In those pamphlets that they give at mental health centers where they list the ten or so symptoms that would indicate a clinical depression, 'suicide threats' or even simple 'talk of suicide' is considered cause for concern. I guess the point is that what's just talk one day may become a real activity the next. So perhaps after years of walking around with these germinal feelings, these raw thoughts, these scattered moments of saying I wish I were dead, eventually I too, sooner or later, would succumb to the death urge. In the meantime, I could withdraw to my room, could hide and sleep as if I were dead.
And I know, knew for sure, with an absolute certainty, that this is rock bottom, this what the worst possible thing feels like. It is not some grand, wretched emotional breakdown. It is, in fact, so very mundane:…Rock Bottom is an inability to cope with the commonplace that is so extreme it makes even the grandest and loveliest things unbearable…Rock bottom is feeling that the only thing that matters in all of life is the one bad moment…Rock bottom is everything out of focus. It’s a failure of vision, a failure to see the world how it is, to see the good in what it is, and only to wonder why the hell things look the way they do and not—and not some other way.
In my case, I was not frightened in the least bit at the thought that I might live because I was certain, quite certain, that I was already dead.
I have studiously tried to avoid ever using the word 'madness' to describe my condition. Now and again, the word slips out, but I hate it. 'Madness' is too glamorous a term to convey what happens to most people who are losing their minds. That word is too exciting, too literary, too interesting in its connotations, to convey the boredom, the slowness, the dreariness, the dampness of depression.
One of the terrible fallacies of contemporary psychotherapy is that if people would just say how they felt, a lot of problems could be solved.
It's nonverbal: I need love. I need the thing that happens when your brain shuts off and your heart turns on. And I know it's around me somewhere, but I just can't feel it.
And she keeps saying, how can you do this to me? And i want to scream, what do you mean, how can I do this to you? Aren't we confusing our pronouns here? The question, really, is How could I do this to myself?
The brief relief of seeing other people when I leave my room turns into a desperate need to be alone, and then being alone turns into a terrible fear that I will have no friends, I will be alone in this world and in my life. I will eventually be so crazy from this black wave, which seems to be taking over my head with increasing frequency, that one day I will just kill myself, not for any great, thoughtful existential reasons, but because I need immediate relief.
I start to get the feeling that something is really wrong. Like all the drugs put together – the lithium, the Prozac, the desipramine, and Desyrel that I take to sleep at night – can no longer combat whatever it is that was wrong with me in the first place. I feel like a defective model.
If I were another person, I go on, I wouldn’t want to deal with me, I don’t want to deal with me, It’s so hopeless, I want out of this life. I really do. I keep thinking that if I could just get a grip of myself, I could be all right again. I keep thinking I’m driving myself crazy, but I swear, I swear to God, I have no control. It’s so awful, It’s like some demons have taken over my mind. And nobody believes me, Everybody thinks I could be better if I wanted to. But I can’t be the old Lizzy anymore, I can’t be myself anymore, I mean, actually, I am being myself right now and it’s horrible.
Madness is too glamorous a term to convey what happens to most people who are losing their minds. That word is too exciting,too literary, too interesting in its connotations, to convey the boredom, the slowness, the dreariness, the dampness of depression.