I’m too small
For these feelings and thoughts
I need to be a giant
To keep it all contained
I’m too small
For these feelings and thoughts
I need to be a giant
To keep it all contained
You, desperation in socks
Sanity heard you coming
And changed all the locks
You wanted to be like anyone else
But you crystalised
When Depression has got it’s grip on you, every little thing you should do, need to do feels like a chore.
Every damn thing.
There is so much resistance, sickening resistance within, to do anything.
Forget the analogy of drowning in water.
It’s like wading through treacle.
The other day I felt so oddly calm. It may have been lack of motivation to care about anything. I don’t know.
But it was certainly calm. I even started writing up about ‘calmness’ only to find I was too calm to continue typing it up. I realise I had nothing much to say other than, “wow i feel so oddly relaxed considering how agitated and desperate I became just a few days earlier.”
Well, that calmness has gone.
I’m agitated and irritated by every little thing, even things that would normally have at least a minimal soothing effect.
Ear defenders to have some semblance of silence after I felt that noise was irritating me, only to find the ear defenders started to irritate me and then the silence started to irritate me. And then when I took them off I was irritated all over again at the feel of my ears getting used to not being covered again. Then I was irritated by the noises again.
I paced a bit. Came back in. Was instantly irritated by being back in my flat.
Tried talking to someone, not about this topic just about anything to distract myself. Felt irritated with the conversation. Realised halfway through talking I couldn’t really be bothered with it and so said those things you’re expected to say, “So i’m going back to my flat now, see you tomorrow,” All that stuff. Went back to my flat.
The voices on the radio, music, knowing certain people exist in the world, my own existence, the frailty of life, the lack of any meaning to it despite all the fucking suffering, agitation and angst.
Which is like a slap in the face. Why bother with all these emotions when it’s all so pathetically ‘accidental’ and meaningless?
Yet still, my biology feels the way it feels. We like to try and forget that our biology dictates a lot of how we feel.
And that is just another slap in the face, my brain, my body keeps sending all these hormonal signals and neurons into a frenzied attack of making me want to scream all the while knowing I’ll be irritated by my own fucking screaming.
Everyone’s feelings and attitudes absorbed by me (or so I perceive) and all I want to do is push it all away. Keep away from me with your feelings and your baggage is what I want to scream at people. KEEP THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME!
And then in the silence and in being alone, I realise I can’t cope with my own baggage either. At this point my baggage is so messy it’s not even funny. The bag is bulging to the brim of messed up shit, a lot that makes no sense. And I can’t seem to tease anything apart into breakable, edible pieces.
I think of a song I might want to listen to because a lyric comes to mind then I realise, no I don’t wanna hear any fucking sound. Even if it is one of my favourite bands.
The sun shining is provoking me, poking my agitation with its rays, “Here I am. A complete contrast to how you feel. Ah just soak me up.” And for a moment I think, “Maybe soaking you up will help?” After all sunlight is good for us, isn’t it?
But I’m resentful of the sun shining right now in this moment. I’m resentful that humans as a species made it so the sun is a symbol of happiness. Because I can’t connect to that word, or that feeling and never have been truly able to.
I think it’s a thing that doesn’t exist. Not in the way it’s sold.
But despite knowing this, I feel I’m perpetually mourning the ideals of ‘happiness’ we’ve been sold.
When I was amazingly calm the other day I remember feeling like I’d let go of everything, because everything just was and everything just is. I wasn’t particularly happy, in fact what I was somewhat feeling could have been described as sad. But I’d somehow for the day managed to let go of any expectations and of other stuff I can’t quite put my finger on, and so any feelings were just…well they didn’t have much weight to them.
What puts the weight back into them? I don’t know how my feelings gained weight again. I just know they did. And now they’re obese again with pressure and the heart is working harder to keep from losing itself.
My manager is in my face pointing to the spreadsheet with an accusing finger, “You haven’t even logged several sales we had on Friday!” Spittle is spraying from his lips until he glances at something or someone behind me, then he suddenly eases up and practices restraint. I follow his gaze and Sam is stood there, her cheeks blush a little as she tries to make herself look busy, her eyes sliding down to some chocolates on a shelf and starts ‘neatening’ the stack. The manager takes his accusing finger away from the screen and places his hands in his pockets, “Just make sure you log all the ticket sales before you leave in the future, okay?”
“Sure,” I nod in response. The screen glows against my face like a replacement for the sun. I scan the food section seeking Sam’s face, and she looks up over at me, I give her my best glare. She saunters back to the snack counter as a customer comes in, has another quick shot at me, bites her bottom lip and then averts her attention to the customer and puts on her best smile.
After work, I sit at the bus stop with the neon sign from the cinemas glowing behind my back giving me a green halo. I cast my eyes down onto the pavement, noticing all the lights reflecting on the wet tarmac, including the green neon sign, my artificial moon shining under all this water that I’m drowning in. Night time shoppers walk by, the constant tack, tack, tack of feet in light shoes as people take it easy with their shopping bags of artificial moonlight. An image pops into my head of Sam dancing to the beat of some music I can just about hear from someone’s headphones as they lean against the glass pane of the bus stop. Halos of green light outline her curves, and I’m taken deep into my head where the bus stop has disappeared along with everything and everyone else it’s just Sam and I. She’s dancing, and I’m trying to move to the beat but coming off as awkward with two left feet. Her blue, blue eyes are looking at me enticingly, and an extra hollow layer makes its way into my psyche as I try to feel anything other than the water in my lungs.
“Hello,” my head flashes on, off, on, off and Sam just keeps on dancing, slowly shimmying closer to me, gesturing with a ‘come hither’ gesture. But just as we appear to float closer together my head flashes on, and the fish with all it’s teeth greets her with a grin. She steps back, her eyes wide and horrified. “Hello,” I repeat as if she’s still somewhere near, even though she’s disappeared from my visions. “Hello,” I say again to the darkness.
“He speaks!” A woman squeals breaking me from my trance.
I freeze on the spot like a deer in the headlights. I knead my hands and flick my tongue on the roof of my mouth making a clicking sound, a nervous tic I get sometimes.
“What? Are you trying to call a dog?” Chewing gum woman asks, sitting next to me on the bench, too close.
I get up from the bench, and I run my hand over the back of my neck and hone my vision on a bit of reflected light in a puddle in front of my foot. “Hello,” I whisper.
She tilts her head “Are you speaking to me?”
She claps her hands together, which draws the attention of other commuters. I knead my hands nervously. “He speaks!” she screeches again.
I recoil inward a cartoon image of myself as a turtle going back in it’s shell plays in my head. I Remain still like a statue till all the attention is away from me.
I click my tongue on the roof of my mouth, “I’m J.J.” I mumble as fast as possible.
“What was that?” she leans forward on the bench
“J.J,” I try to speak more clearly, “I’m J.J.”
“Thought you were Gilly?” She chews gum loudly.
“No, No. I..I am Jacob James Gilbert. Gilly is a nickname people use, my surname shortened.”
“Ah,” she takes her phone out of her pocket, her artificial moon glows against her face, then she puts it back in her pocket, “I’m Jasmine”
“Both our names begin with J.” I notice out loud.
“Yea.” She lights a cigarette with a flick of her lighter and I step further away from the bench. “Whats up? Do I smell?”
I can almost hear the turning of her neck as her body tenses up in some mental restraint and, the tension then flickers into to amusement, “Wow.” She stares ahead.
“Cigarettes” I nod my head towards the smoke
She looks at the end of her cigarette, watching the ash pile up with a puzzled expression on her face until it dawns on her, “Oh!” She beams, “I see!”
“I’d smoke if it wasn’t for the smell,” I remark.
She stares into the distance, clearly thinking, “e-cigs,” she mumbles.
“e-cigs, you can smoke them without the smell.”
“That isn’t the same.”
“So…” She sucks in some air and smoke, “Ya finally speak!” She starts excitedly.
I shrug again.
“Shit,” she flicks ash onto the pavement, “Don’t go all mute on me again!”
She continues to sit, and I continue to stand in silence till the bus arrives. The buses lights are glowing on the inside, and its headlights glare like eyes. I look at the faces in the windows, the bus turning into a submarine in my imagination. “You waiting for a taxi?”
She starts towards the bus, “Hey,” she says over her shoulder, one foot on the platform, “How come you get taxis at the bus stop?”
She scoffs, “You’re a funny guy,” she hops onto the bus, “See you around, then, I guess.” She shouts over and drops her cigarette on the pavement and then shows a pass to the driver.
I closed the lounge door and Greg, my social worker, breathes in as he takes in his surroundings, no doubt noticing the emptiness. He opens his notepad, and as if cued on what to say next asks, “Have you thought any more about socialising?”
“I socialise enough.”
“I see,” He plays with his ID badge that dangles from a ribbon around his neck, “when?”
“At work,” I reply directly
“Is there anyone in particular at work that you get on with?”
I shrug my shoulders, “I guess so.”
“And what would you say to meeting up outside of work, or even to go to see a film once you’ve both finished a shift?”
“I don’t know.”
We sit with an awkward silence between us; he shifts his eyes around the lounge taking it all in again, “So are you refurnishing? Or,” he shrugs holding the palm of his hands out openly in question, “are you taking on a rigorous minimalist lifestyle?” He smiles.
I take a look around my lounge as if the aesthetic is new to me too, “I’m not sure yet.”
“I see.” He fingers his ID badge again.
He looks at me seriously, places his notepad on his knee, “I see,” He repeats and scribbles something quickly, “How do you feel,” He takes a pause and looks at his notepad for a moment as if carefully reading some detail that is new to him. “How would you feel,” He starts again, “If we brought your appointment with Dr Aaron forwards?”
My knee-jerk reaction is to spit out my question, I stop myself and pause for a moment to make it sound and look as casual as possible, “Why?”
“I just think,” He places his pen above his lip and holds it there like a moustache while he thinks, “I just think,” He repeats as he starts again, “That we should review you earlier than previously discussed.”
“It’s up to you,” I reply under the pretence of not being bothered
There is a big bulky tattooed skinhead type pacing up and down from the entrance and back to the receptionist’s desk. The receptionists sit behind a transparent protective barrier. A brown haired woman has sat in a chair three seats away from me to my right, wearing a puffy jacket and is watching the skinhead intensely. A woman with her ID dangling around her neck arrives, and the big guy stops pacing, and they face one another. “David.” She starts sternly.
“They’re five minutes late,” David complains, frowning.
You can tell he’s the type of person that gives his social worker trouble and that she has to be able and willing to dish stern words out if needed. With her ‘no excuse’ voice switched on, “Just sit down, David.”
“They’re five minutes late.” He repeats like a petulant child, stamping his feet on the spot.
“David, we’ve had this discussion before. Haven’t we?” His social worker asks.David’s nostrils flare, and he looks down at his trainers, his shoelaces have come undone.
“Come on, sit down, David.” His social worker repeats, glancing over at the nervous woman in her puffy coat and then at me with a smile that is meant to reassure us.
The skinhead turns around and screens us, looking us all up and down before turning back to his social worker, “No.” He starts pacing again.
His social worker sits down one seat away from mine and acts like she’s had enough with him now, that she’s ignoring him until he finishes his childish tantrum.
David stops and looks at her sitting down quite comfortably, his social worker raises her wrist and looks at her watch then looks through the glass window at the receptionist, smiles and nods. The receptionist presses a button at the desk, and her voice comes out clear from behind the glass, “The doctor won’t be long now.” She pushes the switch back, and the waiting room falls to silence. David shuffles up and down till he lets out a big sigh, “I’m leaving.” He says with a dismissive wave of his hand.
His social worker is in no rush to chase after him; she looks back at the receptionist, they each give a knowing smile that appears to be code for, ‘Well, we expected this. That’s David for you.’
I feel a surge of anger towards this stranger David; I want to punch him right bang in his eye and kick him in the nuts. But it’s only because I wish I had the guts to just storm out of here too. His social worker casually strolls out of the waiting room nodding goodbye to the receptionist.
“Jacob Gilbert.” An Asian man’s voice calls out.
I start to get up from my seat slowly, and as if he sees the question on my face he tells me, “Greg is already here.”
I follow the doctor to his room. Greg is sat waiting with one leg over the other, his notepad resting on his thigh. “Hey, J.J.”
“Hello.” I sit down next to my social worker and the doctor sits in front of us, his legs apart his bulge all too clear to see. It’s not that I spend time looking purposely in that direction; he’s just dressed in such a way it’s hard to miss or else he’s fucking massive. But that’s not anything I want to consider for very long.
“So how are you, Jacob?” He looks at my notes then back at me, “Or would you prefer I call you J.J?”
I shrug my shoulders. I’m not bothered.
He looks across at Greg and smiles. “I’ll just follow Greg’s lead and call you J.J, then.”
We sit in awkward silence for a moment.
The doctor writes something then looks back at me, “how are you doing since we last met?”
The doctor smiles again, “It appears Greg may be disagreeing with that.” He puts a fist under his chin as if posing like The Thinker statue.
Greg scans his notepad and then says, “he’s sold or gotten rid of most of his possessions.”
“Have you?” The doctor turns to me, wanting me to confirm.
“Yes,” I admit sheepishly.
“And why is that?” He asks, his interest in me suddenly intensified.
“I have plans.”
The doctor leans forwards in his chair, his legs now less far apart sparing us the bulge. “What kind of plans?”
I think it over a minute, trying not to think it over for too long, “You know,” I look to a stain on the carpet, “Just saving up for better things.”
“You sold your possessions to save money?”
“Yes.” I try not to let my inner scowl show on my face. What is so hard to believe about that?
“For anything in particular?” He leans back in his chair again, “Surely you’ve still got your guitar, though?”
Greg shakes his head, “He’s got rid of that too.”
The doctor leans forward again, “Really?” He looks at Greg as he asks this, then looks back towards me, “What do you want to buy with all this money?”
“A better guitar.” I lie.
“I see.” The doctor writes more notes. “Do you know what type of guitar?
“A Les Paul Gibson probably.” I shrug.
The doctor sucks in some air through his teeth, writes some more notes down.
“Seems a bit much to sell all your other possessions for a guitar,” he pauses and writes something quickly, “even if it is a Gibson guitar.”
“I don’t make that much working at the cinemas.”
“Have you ever considered making it a goal to get a better-paid job?”
“I don’t want a better-paid job.”
“But you want enough money to buy a Gibson.”
“Yes, but why work for so many stupid hours to get paid more to buy a Gibson guitar you’ll never have time to play anyway?”
Dr Aaron clicks his pen and looks between Greg and I, rolls his tongue over his teeth, “So sell all your possessions instead?”
“It’s not like I have sold everything.”
“Yes, he still has a laptop.” Greg butts in.
“A laptop and?” Dr Aaron asks
“Nothing else that I could see.”
“What about the necessities?”
“I have a fridge. I still buy food.”
The doctor sits back and opens his legs wide again, his hands closed together as if praying under his chin, “I see. Very minimalist of you.”
“Yes,” I agree.
“I just worry about the reasons for your new minimalist lifestyle.”
I don’t know where the voice inside my head comes from but I find myself talking about minimalism in more detail than I’d realised I’d even thought of, “I decided that I want quality things not a quantity of useless tat. That I’d rather have a shitty paid job that allows me my own time, and have to sell previous items of interest to afford something of quality.”
The doctor nods his head and seems to be buying it.
“That is a rather profound thing to realise in your life.”
“Profound thing to realise.” His voice repeats in my head over and over.
It was 2006, and my head was just beginning to emerge from under the iron sea.
I was in a psychiatric ward due to severe depression.
I always remember these words during a review meeting, “You were very unwell when you arrived.”
Before then I had never viewed myself as having been ‘very unwell’ despite the self-harm and wanting to kill myself It still hadn’t registered with me that I was ‘seriously unwell’ I considered that kind of talk to be reserved for ‘real’ mental illnesses like schizophrenia.
I just viewed myself as a loser who couldn’t cope with life.
What did I have to be depressed about anyway? Sure I was teased a lot at school but compared to what some people go through who are bullied, it seemed like something I should just be able to shrug off. Sure my mobility had lessened for no reason that any doctor could find, and I used (still use) a wheelchair for long distance. But again, what did I have to be depressed about?
There were problems in time that I would realise I had, through the ever-growing self-awareness we possess. Each problem became something to tick off my list when ‘solved’ something that I could say, “aha! This is where the depression spawns itself and leaks into the rececesses of my mind from!” only to find once that problem dwindled, or was solved that actually my depression would remain.
Granted some of my problems cannot be ‘solved’ and only ‘treated’ with drugs and a ‘wait and watch’ approach. But the point is those problems get ‘treated’ and the pain from them becomes ‘lesser’ even if they sometimes come back with a vengeance every now and then.
But still, the depression persists like a cyst that keeps reopening it’s wound.
I’ve noticed stages to my depression throughout my life. Through childhood, I now realise I was already depressed very early on, but it was an emptiness that I could just about for short periods distract myself from. This made me a very demanding friend though, and I was insistent on always playing out, a friend that denied me my fun would anger me. How dare they feel too tired to play out, or heaven forbid just simply, ‘not feel like playing.’
What do you mean you don’t ‘feel’ like playing out? You think I ‘feel’ like it? No! I HAVE to play out! Because if I don’t, I’m left with my own emptiness.
This persistent need to always be playing outside continued on into my teens but my depression was getting darker, and I was becoming more and more desperate. My thoughts soon turned from playing out to another way to escape. Thinking about death in general and specifically suicide. Depression had taken me whole now, and I didn’t even see much point in having friends anymore either.
Most of them had started to distance themselves from me by this point anyway, they didn’t realise I was just as tired of me as they were. Or maybe they did.
I understand I was toxic. Something negative radiated from me, how could it not? I always lied to save face every time I was caught out crying or just looking too miserable. Some really unforgivable lies passed my lips.
They were never planned out lies, there was never an intelligent manipulating mastermind behind those lies. They spilt out of my mouth in moments where I’d been caught out feeling too miserable for words to comprehend. How does a teenager who doesn’t really understand himself what the fuck is going on in his head explain his feelings? I didn’t have a word for it. ‘Sad’ didn’t fit, it wasn’t ‘sad’ it was more, it was worse than sad. I could have said, “Actually now that you ask if you must know I feel like the world is a dark place that has beaten and eaten me and spits me back out. My world is upside down, or it’s the right way around, I don’t know. But what I do know is that I have this despair filling my lungs and every moment of every day feels like I’m drowning. Death would be a good escape for me, but I’m afraid of the pain of dying so tell me, how do I walk the path to death without the pain? Also, does the world look dark to you too? I don’t mean metaphorically, I mean physically does it look dark to you? Those lights above our heads, aren’t they really murky and dark and give off hardly any light what so ever?” But who wants to listen to that? So when some kid who would usually be laughing at me one day for some bizarre reason unknown to me decides to ask me if I’m okay, because “god you look miserable” sometimes just being asked that question alone would make me burst into tears. And then they’d say, “Woah, what’s up? Tell us?” And since I couldn’t say the above I’d find myself saying something like, “One of my dogs just died.” But none of my dogs just died. In fact, the dog that has come to mind died when I was baby but she has a name, and so it’s an easy lie to tell, it’s a real dog that was once alive and had a real name, so I didn’t have to make it all up on the spot. It was there for me, and these kids knew no better. “Oh I’m so sorry,” They’d reply. And my tears would seem less pathetic because death had happened and who doesn’t cry when their dog dies?
Because most of the time I was crying at nothing that could be proven to be ‘real’ I was crying because I was crying any reasons behind it be damned. Yes depression was the ‘reason’, but there was often no catalyst like an actual dog dying other than those words, “Are you okay?” So there were no words to say when they asked me “are you okay” and I burst out crying other than some lie I could think of on the spot to make my tears look reasonable. Crying has always been something I reserve as something I do on my own, but in those moments for whatever reason, I just broke.
The truth is I only have two basic facial expressions for people to understand, still to this day, one is crying, the other is laughter.
Fast forward to 2006 and I’m in a psychiatric ward and on visits home my mother would always be playing a Keane Album in her car called under the Iron Sea. Now everytime I listen to that album it takes me back to the car seat. It takes me back to waiting in the car while she picked up my prescription from the hospital pharmacy and the music became a soundtrack to a silent emptiness that was somehow filling me. I was better than I was, I was back to the empty numbness of my childhood. It’s an emptiness with a glimmer of hope but somehow it’s all the more painful. It’s a more silent form of depression than the one where I couldn’t help but cry. Becuase I have no words again and no tears either just this growing deep brooding feeling. The car feeling too small, like I’m suffocating in it, suffocating within myself, my lungs suffocating from breathing. The doctors in the review meeting earlier on that day were all smiles and congratulations for me, for how far i’d come. And there I was sat in the car with this silent depression inside me with no way of expressing it. They were talking about me going home for good, not just for tea or for a weekend, but for good.
And i’ve been in this depressive cycle ever since. Back and forth from crying more easily than is normal to this silent depressive, oppressive thing inside me. Never really reaching a point where I’m passed the depression. Like being trapped in that car but I’m locked in, no words to describe it, at least not adquately enough.
No words are ever enough
And not speaking at all is torture.