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TBH

**This has been on my drafts for some time now, but I finally feel like sharing.**

Don’t tell me to “just” think positive. “Just” build myself a routine, “just” socialize more, “just” change my perspective on things, “just” give it time.
There is nothing *just* about depression.

“Just” getting out of bed is a victory on some days. But you don’t know that, so you ask how’s work.
Survival is unpaid labor.

xx
“Things will get better”, you say.
But how do you know? Are you an Oracle?
Do you know when? Is it this month? Should I make an appointment?
Should I pack my bags right away or do I have time for a sandwich?

You don’t know? Oh. Yeah. I don’t either.

xx

There is a bet going around, and some days my money is on your theory: that I’ll live, I’ll survive. Even if I don’t see it, I know logically things can get better. Statistically, the possibility is there.

Some days, though, my money is on another theory, but you don’t want to read about that one. But every now and then, my money is on that theory. You never want to hear about us, but then you wish you knew, wish you could’ve done something.

You can do something, though. And I know you want to do something, because you give me your advice, your relentless, annoying positivity, your “silver linings”, your pleasantries, your rehearsed lines.

Your “silver linings”, while well-intended, are worth shit when it comes to my depression.

xx

Grieving is weird when you’re grieving about your own brain. When you’re grieving what your brain has been doing to you, to your life, to your friends and family, for the past year. When you’re grieving an abstract hormonal war inside your body, what wonderful life-changing things you could be doing instead of “just” surviving. So let me grieve. Let me vent, let me rant, allow me that space to feel awful, to feel helpless. Hopefully, to feel hope sometimes.

I’ve been you, okay? And I know it can get uncomfortable. There is a void, an emptiness that is there. I know you feel it, and you feel responsible for filling it, but you’re filling it with more emptiness, more space between us. And ultimately, this is not about you. I am a pretty selfless person (as far as naturally-selfish people can be selfless, I guess; another topic for another time), but I need to be selfish about this if I want to heal. My mental health is not about you. And when you fill perceived blanks with your disturbingly oblivious and often ableist phrases to decrease your own discomfort, to feel like you’re doing something good, you are mostly doing it for you. And I need to repeat myself on this: MY MENTAL HEALTH IS NOT ABOUT YOU.

xx

I am well aware that you cannot know what I need, what many people with depression need, unless we tell you. So here I am, telling you: Shut the fuck up. Listen.

Instead of your unwanted (because, let me remind you, this is all about consent as well) advice, suggest activities we can do together if you want, if I want.
Instead of your positivism, feed me donuts. Any day.
Instead of your well-intended, but ultimately condescending, “logical” statements, give me validation. Give me hugs (but ask first).
Instead of the rehearsed lines you’ve probably been told yourself, the ones we hear everywhere and get us nowhere, rehearse these ones:
“I’m here.” “I’m sorry you feel this way.” “That absolutely sucks, you’re right.” “What can I do?” Hell, even “shit, I don’t know what to say, but I’m here” is perfectly acceptable.

I need to know there will be people who aren’t too tired to show up. Because I am fucking tired sometimes.
I do want you to be here, don’t get ever get that wrong. But actually be here, with me.

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Visualizations

I breathe in, and breathe out.
I am supposed to locate my sadness somewhere in my body. If I picture it, then I can shrink it, move it, dissolve it. I forget what this technique is called as soon as my therapist tells me.

Don’t get me wrong, I do picture it. I picture it as a thick, greasy, gross coating that covers all my skin. It clings to it. It is water resistant. It keeps the sun from coming in.

I can’t shrink it without shrinking myself.

 

She talks about how you are yourself, even when the sadness is there. Behind it, there is always you, and after it, you will remain. She talks about rain.
Everybody knows the sun is still out there, even on rainy days, even when there’s a storm and the sky is all the same shade of gray. You know it in your brain, but after enough gray days and nights, your heart starts to question even the most logical of truths. Will the sun still be there after the sadness disperses? Are you still the same without the sadness? Is your skin the same after you wash off the bad days?

There is a bittersweet comfort in depression. It doesn’t betray you, or leave you. It pulls you into the blankets, it tells you it’s okay if your friends don’t call you or check up on you, because it would never do that to you. It is an abusive partner, but like most abusive partners, it lets you think it was all your idea. You chose to get that bottle of wine, you chose to cancel on your friends’ birthday plans, you chose to watch TV for 24 hours. You chose this lifestyle, so you must have chosen your sadness. You chose to cover your skin in isolation, in brokenness. It even congratulates you for your bad habits.

But you never chose this life, you never chose the rain. You never chose to sit on an arm-chair, breathing in and out, trying to explain how, in spite of all logic, you cannot dissolve the parts of you that you don’t like, without feeling like you’re dissolving everything else.

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A baseline for healthy

The reception is iffy when it comes to you. The images sometimes come out blurry, the definition really low.

There really is no clear-cut definition when it comes to what things should feel like.
I know I deserve better than you. But that’s not the point, is it? Anyone deserves better than the constant doubt, the guilt trips, the gaslighting, the slut-shaming. Being better than you doesn’t make me special.
Most of the time I know which parts to cut, I know what the wounds would look like before anyone declares war on my body. Most of the time I know a red flag when I see one. But what if I don’t? What if I don’t see the red until it’s coming from my palms?

I don’t know if I could know a good thing if I saw it. I am foreign to such creatures. What if I rip a good heart open just to see what it looks like inside, like a kid opening up a working clock just to know if it’s real?

As I said, there are some connectivity problems when it comes to you. The language settings are also wonky. Mi corazón ya no sabe hacer poesía sin recordarte, lo que hiciste. Me quitaste mi casa, me cortaste la lengua.

I clearly need a new prescription. A new default setting, a new baseline. Re-calibrate normal so it doesn’t accidentally look like you.

Pain is not normal. I know that now. And even if it was, I deserve better than the baseline.

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Softest places

I never learned how to write about my softest places,
I never learned how to define them.
Maybe if I could define them,
They could feel less scary,
They could let a little light in.

I never thought I would need so much again.
I never thought I would need. I never wanted to need.
I wanted to just… want.
Optional, disposable. Replaceable.

 

I long wondered how I would know,
When I had found home,
When home had found me.
I no longer wonder. I just
Breathe in. Breathe out.

Home is where darkness has heard of you.

Home has pictures of you and knows when you take your pills.
Home has heard about your softest places,
But your softest places know nothing about home.
Home feeds on your aching bones.
Home is with you when you try to sleep.
Home is with you when you try to sleep.

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damages past and present

The damage doesn’t look the same as it used to.

I laugh, I read, I call friends to meet up. I put on my red lipstick and attack, like Coco would advise.

I cook tofu things, I keep up my Instagram. I clean the bathtub.

 

The damage has different outfits, it seems.

I have changed, maybe more than I had realized. Maybe much less in parts of me that I would have liked to have shed completely.

But I still sleep 12 hours or none at all. I still crowd my bed with clothes and sheets of paper. I still hang on threads, always hoping for them to grow stronger on their own, or fall apart completely. My limbs are still heavy with anxiety. I still have dreams of realities much harsher than mine, but that feel quite similar. You know those nightmares in which you want to walk, or run, or stand up, and your limbs don’t move? You gotta wake up. WAKE UP. Stand up. Please.

 

And I have read a lot of books. Bookmarked in my head are all the recipes, all the pharmacies available, all the 10-step guides. I hoped I would never need them but somehow I knew I would some day. The problem with books is they don’t do it for you. They have the map to get out but what if your legs are broken, what if you are? How do you get anywhere then?

These damages seem new to the neighborhood, but their luggage has been here forever.

Hello again. I wasn’t expecting you.