This story has been sitting in the draft folder for 2 months under the title "What Happiness Does to your Face." A sentence written, here and there. The story and author, wondering if it should see the light of day or if its just going to be one of those discarded digital diary pages gathering supernatural dust of sorts. But this quote by the too soon deceased Robin Williams made me realize that perhaps it NEEDS to be written. Its about depression, the thing that took his life. He even said:
"It's not caused by anything, it's just there," he said. "It waits. It lays in wait for the time when you think"
You look different. You just seem so calm. Its like you were always there in there somewhere and now I can see you, unobstructed.
These are some of the comments I started hearing about 2 years ago when I began to get better. Its funny because thats when you know you are getting better, when you don't notice. Its when you slip back into life and society and begin to function and just let things go. Giving up control over your life and every detail of it is when things naturally fall into place again. Devil is truly in the details.
But you're better now right?
Hmm... The road out of hell is a tricky one because it bends and always loops back around where it started. Without getting into too much detail about how the brain works and people's natural and externally affected levels of happiness, you are pretty much stuck with the brain you have, its what you do with that brain that counts. To simply explain it, if you were a miserable selfish bastard before an accident or a lottery win, you will then slowly adjust back into that life regardless of augmented stimuli. People who make decisions in the wake of tragedy almost always revert back to the original plans and feelings they had before.
Maybe if I hadn't taken an icy drunken fall that winter outside my apartment after hopping around Manhattan in efforts to avoid him and all the baggage that has accumulated, if I had not awaken with a pillow full of blood and chipped teeth and busted chin, maybe I would have left then. Just that night before the outing I told him how deeply unhappy I was and how the wedding needs to be postponed indefinitely, how I wanted to be free. All before I pushed my sleep deprived and alcohol intolerant body beyond its limits and inadvertently painted my pillow. Fear is worse than depression because it feeds the monster. I was too scared to be alone and I stayed for 14 more months. Don't feed the monster. And he wasn't the monster, I was. Robin Williams in my favorite movie What Dreams May Come says to his wife as comes to join her in hell "That's when I realized I'm part of the problem. Not because I remind you. But because I couldn't join you. So I left you alone. Don't give up, okay?" You don't need to descend into hell that is depression with someone, but you need to take responsibility for your part in it, even if its frustrating that you cannot help. What is most ironic that while he was up in the middle of the night saving lives, I was slowly taking mine.
The road out of hell is filled with bumps of failed attempts to get better and lacquered with your own tears. That's when the changes came in. It was starting from scratch. There was not saving or rescuing, no prince no white horse and no epiphany. Well, the version of epiphany was that this is my brain and I am going to try to harness the good that comes from it because its unique and fragile and sensitive and capable. I had to understand what got me where I was, I had to read and listen, and cry at night as I downloaded audiobooks and read biographies of brave women and men telling of their struggle with mental illness. There were books by Richard O'Connor and Nassir Ghaemi and Jonathan Haidt and the brutally honest and raw Marya Hornbacher and Kay Redfield Jamison. I recommend all their works.
Wellness requires an active participation in life, and understanding of the problem, and a curiosity about the future and focus on the every day and the knowledge that darkness WILL find you again, but there is power in that darkness too and you can reign it in with a great deal of help. For me, its the ability to change and morph and evolve and chase happiness as though it was a date on a calendar. It helps set a goal that I know I will never reach, but its there and almost tangible. Read my stories Why I Keep Changing and Become Your Dream if you wish to understand the whole picture. http://cowbird.com/story/88268/Week_6_Of_52__Why_I_Keep_Changing/ http://cowbird.com/story/91688/Week_12_Of_52__Become_Your_Dream/
Whatever that voice in your head is that stops you from pushing that knife further into your skin, even after the skin gives way and begins to bend, layer by layer, skin and tissue and fat, indenting against its will. Listen to it. For the love of all that is possible, LISTEN to it. I will not lie to you and promise rose petals and peace and stability and happy days. No, that is not how it works. I can only say that the road out of hell runs smack dab THROUGH hell only to loop back around again. But I also know that hell is the scenic route and that you can pick up so much information on the way. You will learn and understand that hell is often a temporary stopping point and if you can find a way to walk through it, burned feet and all, you will have so many more stories to tell.
Week 21 of 52 - Story a Week in 2014