Depression is a real bitch. Stealthy. She’s always there. (She is most definitely a she). Lurking. As a shadow. She fills up the space in my head like water fills a biorb imprisoning a fish; with no air hole and no way of displacing the stifling liquid to make room for more useful thoughts. A blown glass bauble, unhollowed, scratched. I could just about move through her if I had the mental energy to swim but I still wouldn’t actually be going anywhere. Where would there be to go? And the surface tension seals in the pressure. Just.
Failure. A feeling I know all too well. You’d think I’d be used to it by now – the way I regularly set myself up for it like that. Potential unmet. Un-this, un-that. Assimilating information is the easy bit. That just happens as naturally as breathing. Seeing through lies. I could no more not take it all in than I would choose not to sleep all afternoon given half a chance. We might disagree about what catnapping away a short day’s sunshine is the epitome of. But it really just comes down to perspective. However warped.
Neuroatypicality. What is that? What does ‘typical’ look like? What does it feel like? Where did I put that envelope? The letter with the British Psychological Society stamp on it. The first version of which horrified me. No I did not want that document copying to anyone at my local surgery thank you very much. Enough mislabelling and misunderstanding peppers that file already. Aspie is a ‘best fit so far’ moniker, taking everything into account. A working diagnosis. Working diagnostic relativism in actuality, as if predispositions are defined in terms of time, place and circumstance. Any systematised criteria will do. Pick a system; any system; they are each and every one subjective anyway. Every single one.
Now that the diagnostic process has been completed I would expect that the diagnosis would become less significant and all-consuming for her.
That was true for a while. The written final report was halved in length at my request. I admitted things in that room that I had never said out loud before and have never uttered since. My deepest, darkest confessions were already respectfully omitted from the original official report – the threshold for diagnosis had already been crossed – but I couldn’t stand to see even the most benign aspects of those interview assessments in print. All consuming. There’s always something. And it’s never what it’s supposed to be. Always a distraction. Just never quite distracting enough. Exhausting all the same.
And the beauty engulfed in the horror. Of life. How can you not think about that? How does that not affect you? Who are you? Who is it that I imagine I’m even talking to? No one. I don’t need to. I can all too easily find argument with myself. All those bits of me I’d rather not describe. Alive in the wrong age perhaps. But not like the fictional heroine ahead of her time. Sidestepped more like. Retreating to an alternative bigger picture, a proxy, where existence is no more meaningful but possibly less cruel. Less human. More humane.
Depression. She does exactly what her name suggests. She doesn’t care about any of the labels you add or subtract before or after her. She doesn’t Care. Does not care. Anxiety cares. Disproportionately so, according to some. But it still won’t answer the phone. You can describe her as sub-clinical on any given ok-day if you like – if it makes you feel any better – but you and she both know that the pills won’t keep her sated for long. Not even the antipsychotics, prescribed to some other crazy, that you experimentally washed down with a cheap Californian red from the Co-op. You know, when you were just this side of suicide. Not actively trying for death but, in full conscience, at least in the early stages, taking the kinds of risks which could ultimately lead to the same. Putting the difference between acts and omissions to the test. Like others you knew had done before. And died. It would have been an accident, of course. A misadventure. I wonder if anyone would have been as angry at me as I was at him. At that time, I’m not so sure. I defended him to everyone –
He would never have knowingly took heroin. He couldn’t have know what it was. It was someone else’s fault.
Truth is, I never believed he wasn’t at fault. Fucking idiot. If he wasn’t already dead, I’d have killed him for being so fucking stupid. I still think about him every now and again. Still miss him all these years later. I bet he’d still be wearing Farahs and Dunlops now, his Parker zipped up like a periscope, trick or treating, just for something to do.
I’m not depressed right now by the way, just in case you were wondering. You probably weren’t. Not by my own pre-sets anyway. If I were I wouldn’t be able to talk about it. That’s one of the cold twists in the gut with depression. At the point of most needing help, you’re least capable of saying so. Entirely incapable in fact. Such is the nature of the screwy bitch.
I’m gradually owning up to some of the persistent personal difficulties I have experienced and continue to experience in life. Difficulties which I’ve previously gone to great lengths to conceal, always to my own detriment. Nothing is for free. Not even if someone else is buying lunch. The social exchange still has to be paid for. Sometime after the event. Meeting an invitation or a request with a “No” isn’t in itself always that difficult but explaining all the reasons behind the no, that’s a completely different kettle of freaked out fish. A made up reason, any made up reason, however implausible, has always been infinitely preferable to me to having to explain the ins and outs, whys and wherefores, necessity and logistics of ‘crash days’ and all interrelated flaky phenomena. One thing leads to another and, frankly, I’d rather not go there. It is what it is. And without feeling the need to go into too many details, or alternatively invent something which seems reasonable, to me in the moment at least, it’s getting a lot easier to just plainly admit that it is what it is.