Depression: A Timeline.
This is what it looks like
5:27 a.m. You wake up for some unknown reason. You stare at the ceiling. You feel your mind start to remember why you were sad last night, but you stop it. You don’t want to remember. Remembering would mean figuring out why your chest is aching and honestly, that’s too much for you to deal with right now.
5:45 a.m. You want to sleep. You can’t sleep. You think about last night even though you don’t want to. You remember you spent the night crying. Everything had been building up inside you and you had finally acknowledged it. You didn’t want to cry—you’d been trying so hard not to cry—but you did. Your tears soaked your pillow and I t was kind of a relief. But then you saw the time—1:37 a.m. — and you didn’t want anyone to wake up to the sound of your cries—so you muffled them. You sobbed as silently as you could until you fell asleep. Somewhere in your mind, you make the note that again, other people’s feelings were more important than your own. You fight against the next wave of sadness— you don’t want to be sad anymore—it doesn’t work.
6:53 a.m. Your chest still aches. You ignore it. Light is starting to shine through your window. You groan. It’s a reminder that you survived another night. You think about how the religious people you know would tell you to thank God for every day you have. You’d nod to placate them. In reality, you spend most nights praying not to have to wake up. You realize that having depression means you’re more likely to wish for the end of things than be grateful for the beginning.
7:34 a.m. You pick up your phone. If the past two hours were any indication to you, you finally accept you’re not going back to sleep. You open up Instagram and scroll through the feed. The inside of you knows all of this is pointless—the pictures, the likes, the comments—none of it matters. But you, like everyone else, continue to scroll and double-tap. You scroll endlessly. You begin to realize that the longer you scroll, the more you see yet another edit of the currently popular meme, the more you forget about the incessant throbbing in your chest. Instagram is not a cure by any means—but it keeps you from acknowledging what is too painful to deal with.
9:30 a.m. You’ve seen one-too-many cat videos. And though you find all the kittens cute, an alarm goes off in your head telling you to stop. You look at the time. Panic and dread fill your veins. It is 9:30 a.m. and you have work at 10 a.m. It’s a 26-minute drive, and you realize you should already be leaving by now. Urgency electrifies your muscles, but you can’t get up. You can’t move. You are stuck endlessly scrolling down your Instagram feed. You know you have to get up. You know you have to leave, but your body feels so heavy. Your mind feels so heavy. Your chest feels so damn heavy. A short film of all the places you’d rather be plays in your head—dead, dead, dead. A voice inside you is screaming at you to get up, but your body is unresponsive. You’ve put the phone down, but haven’t picked up the motivation to leave.
9:45 a.m. Your body is lead. You start crying because by this point you know you’re going to be late, but you just can’t do anything about it. Something inside you won’t let you. Your anxiety skyrockets. Your heart speeds up and so do your thoughts. Get up get up get up. Getupgetupgetup getupgetupgetup GETUP GETUPGETUP. Finally, you do. You’re up. The good thing is you’re still in your work clothes from yesterday. You didn’t take a shower and to be honest, you can’t dredge up the energy to care. You brush your teeth—not properly, but good enough. You leave.
10:17 a.m. You make it to work. On the way, you were attacking yourself — Fucking idiot. Why can’t you just leave when you need to. You’re late again. You’re ALWAYS fucking late — and from the looks of your co-workers, they were wishing they could attack you too. You realize today will be one of your slower days because you just can’t get your limbs to move at a faster pace.
12:53 p.m. One of your bosses has started his daily obligation of berating you over something trivial. You know you’re not supposed to let it affect you, but you’re feeling a little vulnerable today so each condescending remark digs itself into your skin, its bacteria infecting you and creating yet another abscess to drain later. You’ve been full of them lately, between dealing with toxic, irrationally upset customers and the deteriorating pollution of your own mind.
2:27 p.m. You’ve finally mastered the art of being happy on the surface— for today anyway. People are usually satisfied with that. Rarely do they ever take a second to study the surface-happy a little longer. If they did, maybe they’d notice the landfill just beneath the smile. But then, they probably wouldn’t care anyway. But you, you’ve chipped away at your impulse to say “I want to stab myself,” when they—only half-listening— ask you how you’re doing. Instead, you’ve replaced it with, “I’m doing wonderful today. How are you?” only half-listening of course, but it’s progress.
3:33 p.m. You have less than an hour left at work, but you feel your is death coming sooner—or maybe you were just wishing it was. Time isn’t moving fast enough for you. You dread every minute you have to stay and serve people food, but there’s nothing you can do. Like a good worker, you try to do exactly as you’re asked—no more, no less. Less would mean hearing more negative and discriminatory remarks from your co-workers that are all a different shade than you. Less would mean giving them a ‘reason’ to lay blame on your skin color. Less would mean never going back to work because of its ripe and sharp weapon of toxicity. More would mean giving excess amounts of your energy, your soul to a place that does nothing but hate you. So you do what you can. You survive.
4:38 p.m. You’re free from your six-and-a-half hours of hell. The gloomy energy of the day hangs around you like a cloud. You sit in your car. The day flashes through your mind. You remember how your manager spoke to you this morning, and you replay the clip in your mind, denoting every instance of him making you feel stupid and worthless. Why does he target you? What is wrong with you? What have you done to make him treat you this way? You are so damn tired. People are so cruel. Part of you doesn’t really know if it’s the job that makes you feel that way, or if it’s all in your head. But it can’t all be in your head…right? Your therapist has advised you to change jobs multiple times, but you’re still there. Why? Do you like feeling like shit?
7:59 p.m. It’s been a few hours, but you’re still in the parking lot of your job. You want to leave, but once again, you’re your body’s prisoner. You cry. You don’t know what else to do. Every time you try to muster up the motivation to leave, your limbs fill with lead. You can’t move them. It has started raining outside, as if to mimic your mood. You want to melt through the seats of your car and get washed away with the rain. Your body aches with sadness. Your mind screams from the loneliness. You want someone to hold you, to distract you, to heal you. You continue to cry. In your car, in the rain, no one can hear you. So you cry louder. You scream. You stomp your feet into the floor. Your tears are a steady stream and you’re pissed at yourself that all you can do is sit in your car and cry. You feel red hot anger boil up inside of you. You need to hit something — anything. You make a fist and start punching your legs. Punch, punch, punch. It hurts, but it’s not enough. You’ll maybe have a few bruises later, but it isn’t enough. You aim at your car’s center console. Punch. Punch. Punch. You put all of your frustration into your fists and punch at the console. Your hand hurts now, but pain is what you need to feel. It’s what you crave to feel. Punch. Punch. Punch. There, that’s it. That’s what you wanted to feel. There’s a sharp pain in your hand when you open it. You wince. Your knuckle is bleeding a bit, but there’s no damage to your car. Your mind is finally clear. You’ve stopped crying. You think about driving home and your body actually listens this time. You turn your car on. You leave.
8:35 p.m. You only had to face light traffic on the way home. The pain in your hand has reduced to a dull ache and you place the feeling as far back in your mind as it will go. On the way home, you may have thought a few times about running your car into a concrete divider, but you making it home is what’s important. You get out the car for the first time in four hours. The rain falls down on you, but you can’t tell if it’s actually water or your depression. You stand in the rain a bit, getting some of the shower you haven’t taken in three days. There’s an umbrella in the car, but getting soaked is more fitting for your mood anyway. You go inside to your room. It’s just as filthy as you left it. Clothes litter the floor and wrappers from old Halloween candy blanket your bed. The saner part of you is disgusted at the used dishes and open food laying around, but the real you doesn’t even notice. You lay down on your candy wrapper bed. You find a piece that was open, but not yet eaten. You eat it. You sleep.
12:22 a.m. You’ve woken up. The light in you room is still on. You look at your phone and realize your best friend has called and texted you. She wants to know if you want to go out with her to a party on Friday. She always invites you to things even though you barely ever show up. She’s a good person and honestly too good to want to hang around you. You don’t respond to her. You wish you could be more social, but every time you go out anywhere your anxiety makes it too difficult to function like a normal person. So instead, you waste your life away in your bed, with Depression as your company. Depression may seem like a party-pooper, but when you’re alone—just the two of you—it makes the funniest self-deprecating jokes. You hate yourself already, but it’s kind of comforting knowing that Depression doesn’t leave you by yourself in that. Maybe you’ll respond to your best friend by Friday, but most likely you won’t. She always says she understands, but part of you wonders if she’s lying. You wish you could be like her—happy, free-spirited, social, charming, confident. You compare yourself to her and you fail in comparison with every single subject. She’s better at everything. She’s even so much better at life than you are—but maybe that’s because she actually wants to live it. You’d much rather die.
1:37 a.m. You’re tired. You’ve been scrolling through the Facebook pages of the people you’ll never meet—you’ll never be. Your eyes are straining against the brightness of the screen, but you don’t want to stop. You see vacations and pets and homes and clothes and kids and careers and everything you know you’ll never have. You’re an almost sub-par server at a popular restaurant. Your coworkers hate you. You hate you. You struggle to take a shower and you struggle not to kill yourself at the end of every ruthless day. Everything you do requires fifteen times the effort it would take normal, neuro-typical people. It’s not easy for you. The beast you fight isn’t physical, it isn’t palpable—it’s sprouted and dug it’s roots deep inside of you. But you try even when you don’t want to. You stay alive even when you don’t want to. You’re exhausted. You fight anyway. You may not be like them, but they’re not like you, either. You text your best friend back. You turn your light off. You go to sleep.