I woke up crazy one morning. I’m sure it just wasn’t ONE MORNING. My lunacy was so gradual I didn’t notice it…until I did. Sadness and impending doom permeated my very being. I wanted to stay in bed, keeping the blinds drawn, and wait until the next morning when it would be time to stay in bed again. Saying I was depressed didn’t quite cover it. Saying I was depressed was like referring to the Grand Canyon as a big hole. I hated myself…no I loathed myself and no one knew…no one could know. No one could know because if they found out they would also know I was a lunatic.
Why am I depressed? Late twenties, healthy, married, great job…WHY WAS I DEPRESSED? Why was I crazy? I’m depressed because I hate my marriage…or do I hate my marriage because I am depressed. “A conundrum wrapped in an enigma?” Oh God I have to go to work. I like people but I hate to be around them. “I love my job.” “I HATE MY JOB!” “I VANT to be alone.” I just want to go to sleep…forever. “You have to get up and stand in front of your students and not let on how crazy you are!” “TEACH THEM YOUNGINS!” “But I’m so tired!” Get through today and tomorrow will be better…but it wasn’t. I…just…want…to…break…something.
What am I going to do? “What do I have to be depressed over?” Nothing. “Why?” I grew to hate THAT word like fingernails on a chalkboard. “I DON’T KNOW WHY I JUST AM!” “QUIT ASKING ME!” “I must be ‘bananas,’ ‘bonkers,’ or ‘cracked.’ I tried to make light of it…until one night I found myself having a conversation with myself while staring down the barrel of a gun. A small gun, a revolver and five lead tipped bullets stared back at me. I would not need five, one would end the pain AND THE SORROW. It would be so easy…just pull back the hammer…put the muzzle to your temple and…” WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?” I have to get help…but who can help and no one can know I am crazy.
It has been nearly forty years since that night. Obviously I chose help rather than pulling the trigger on that little twenty-two. I went to my doctor and to together we figured out that I was “clinically depressed.” A chemical imbalance that was treated by drugs and therapy. I’m no longer on drugs but I still battle it. Exercise helps as does knowing what it is but I still battle it. “KNOW YOUR ENEMY!” Mental illnesses are diseases just like the common cold, arthritis or cancer. Some are just as incurable and some are genetic. I know my grandmother suffered from it although she would simply say, “She was just blue.” I will never be cured and sometimes that thought “makes me blue.”
There is still a stigma about mental illness. I still cringe when I here myself say, “You are mentally ill.” A hundred years before I would have just gone crazy. How we throw that word around, not thinking about what it may mean to the people we describe. If I had failed to successfully commit suicide, I might have ended up in the asylum with the rest of the “lunatics.” That’s what we did before reform…but I still worry that I am crazy…in a bad way…and that I should be put away.
I woke up depressed this morning. It happens that way. There is no reason, I just feel sorrow for no reason. I want to crawl back into a hole and pull the dirt in behind me. I can’t concentrate. When I walk I can’t find “my happy place” and I feel so tired I am unsure I can put one foot in front of the other. Despite recent injuries, I run. Not fast, not hard, just a minute of physical pain followed by a minute of worrying about physical pain. Repeat…ten times. I am forced to concentrate…on something other than my depression…my lunacy.
It is the afternoon now. I have had a full and productive day despite my affliction. I am better. Why am I better? I don’t know. I just am. If I awaken depressed tomorrow I will again ask that most hated three letter question, “Why?” There is no answer and there is no cure. I know depression will come again, if not tomorrow, next week or next month. I feel it lurking just out of sight. I know my depression is still nearby just as I know I will continue to fight a battle that I can never quite win…maybe that is winning.
If you enjoyed this, Don Miller has also written three books which may be purchased or downloaded at http://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM