Sadness is like water. Running water stays fresh. Stagnant water is stale. The impending sadness turns into grief, and you think “Oh hey, maybe I’m having a bad week.”; until you look up and realize. You realize it’s been a year. You realize it’s depression.
Sadness is temporary. It’s a horrible relative who’s passing through your hometown and is there to stay for maybe a few minutes, maybe hours, or maybe even a few days.
Grief is like breaking a bone and spending 1-2 months waiting for it to heal. It occurs after events like deaths of loved ones, etc. You may be in grief, but your self-worth doesn’t change.
Depression is you. I’ll put it like this, it’s a demon that sits on your shoulder 24/7 whispering bold statements. “You’re useless.” “You’re worthless.” “You’re a horrible person.” Over and over again. Until you hear your own voice in your brain saying the same things. Screaming the same things. And I can tell you from experience, that the only thing worse than someone telling you that you’re useless, is you telling yourself that you’re useless.
I walk into class with a goofy grin plastered on my face. “HEY Y’ALL! I KNOW Y’ALL MISSED ME BECAUSE I WAS ABSENT YESTERDAY!” I shout to the class of 15 people, not including myself.
“Actually, we didn’t miss you.” people reply in a joking tone.
“Yeah, as if.” I say, placing my bag on my table and walking out the door to the cafeteria hall for breakfast.
I walk out of the class. And my smile melts into an expression that can only be described as the personification of death.
I was absent yesterday because I was too depressed to get out of bed. I said that I was sick and wrung out productivity and motivation from my day like water from a semi-wet cloth. And too be perfectly honest, I didn’t have it in me to get out of bed, but in order to keep my facade, which was as tiring as my depression, I dragged myself out of bed. Also known as rolling out of my bed in hopes that maybe pain will remind me that I’m alive and I have work to do. Which it didn’t, but that’s beside the point.
Breakfast. Oh yes, breakfast. I used to not eat anything at all, simply because it seemed like too much work. Getting food, putting it in my mouth, chewing it, etc. No breakfast, no lunch, but I ate dinner because of my facade in front of my family. It was easier in school, ‘cause I could just blame it on the food being bad.
This persisted for about a year. Until the day I fainted. Which drew too much unwanted attention. Which is why nowadays, I force food down my throat, even if it means I feel like vomiting for an hours after.
I ascend the steps in the rhythm. “You’re useless” Step. “You’re worthless” Step. “You’re a disappointment” Step. “You’re undeserving” Step. And before I know it, I’ve reached class. If this was 5 years ago I’d be worried that I haven’t placed my fake smile up yet, but now it’s a second nature. I smile and joke with friends mindlessly, with the voice persisting in the back of my head, drilling further into the hole it’s already left in my brain.
I walk into my room, drop my bag on the floor, slam the door, and promptly collapse on my bed. I pull out my phone from my school jacket pocket. No texts. I grumble and cover my eyes with my hand.
I don’t trust myself. That much is evident enough for me to know. I make bad decisions and I’m like a flame that burns bright, but burns out quick. I don’t think long term. I give up to quick and I’m really selfish. I put myself before others and question why people don’t put me before themselves. I have high expectations and I get let down easy. And I make the most selfish decisions to cope with the pain.
I whisper under my breath, words resonant with the voice in my head and the beat of my heart. “Knife, knife,knife, knife….” and so on, until I stumble out of my bed, flinching at the bright 4 PM sunlight, wobbling to my table, opening a drawer, and pulling out my easily accessible paper cutter. Damn, ever since I got that cutter, this shit’s been SO much more easier. It makes a cleaner cut, takes less time, but still delivers on the promise of pain.
Ah, the good old promise of pain. I’m so used to this that the question I ask myself isn’t “Am I sure that I want to do this?”, but instead “How many?” I disinfect the paper cutter with the aftershave I flicked off my dad about 4 years ago, and place it on my arm. And begin to lightly score my arm. I score it about 70 times, which is usually when I can see the spots of blood decorate my arm. The salty saliva that coats the inside of my mouth tastes almost as good as the taste of blood, which I’m pretty used to. When I don’t feel like cutting, I chew my gum until it sheds blood. It’s almost as satisfying as feeling the light daggers of sharp pain run up and down my arm.
I haven’t even reached the best part yet. The antiseptic. It’s whatever pain I managed to inflict on myself with the paper cutter, only 10 times better. The promise of pain.. I remember the days of using a cheese knife and a divider and scoff.
I lean back on the on bathroom wall and cry. Whatever type of crying one does without tears. I bring my knees closer to my chest and huddle up into a ball. “You’re useless.” “You’re worthless.” The only way I can justify my actions is if I say that pain makes me feel alive, in this black-and-white world. Which it doesn’t, but I’m just a good liar.
If I had a dollar for every time someone said “I’m disappointed in you” in the last 365 days, I wouldn’t be a disappointment anymore. I’d be rich enough not to.
But no matter how many times I hear it, it hurts like someone punched the air outta my lungs.
He looks me straight in the eye, his deep ones boring into my skull, like the most hollow thing I’ve ever seen. “I’m disappointed in you.” his words were solid, clean and sharp.
I wanted to keel over and vomit, which was a high possibility, considering I had just forced breakfast down my throat. I felt that numbing, but painful tingly feeling slowly spread from my stomach to all over my body. My toes trembled as the feeling slowly sank down to my feet.
I tried to whisper “I am too.” but ended up with a cocky, pained grin with the words “Who isn’t these days?” as I dug my fingernails in my palm in efforts not to be a bawling mess.
“I Felt A Funeral, In My Brain”…
…But who died?
Was it the me who was cheerful, childish, and innocent?
… No, it can’t be. I locked her up so I wouldn’t get hurt anymore.
Was it the me who cared?
… No, it can’t be. I do care.
Was it the me who was happy and content and motivated and inspired whose eye sparkled?
It doesn’t matter anymore. Because I want to be in that coffin. And that is a feeling which makes your stomach cave into a spiralling pit of darkness. “I want to die” “I want to die” “I want to die”
I bury my face in my pillow in order to choke out my sobs. Because eating your pillow is always a good anti-depressant. I groaned into my pillow.
“Goddamit.” I whisper into the pillow. “I’m sick of it all.” I sigh. “Why can’t I just die?” I whisper in between tears. “Why do I even have to live?” I clutch the pillow tight. My head throbs like someone hitting my skull with a hammer from the inside.
“You’re useless” “ “You’re worthless” “You’re a disappointment” “No one loves you” “You should die” “No one cares about you” “You can’t do anything right” Oh, that voice was screaming now.
“YOU SHOULD DIE. YOU SHOULD DIE. YOU SHOULD DIE….” and so on. I try to sing multiple songs, ranging from “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, to “Anaconda” by Nicki Minaj, to “Leave Out All The Rest” by Linkin Park, to drown out the voice, but that doesn’t help.
I am reduced to a whimpering mess who’s whispering my own song lyrics like a prayer.
“There’s a voice in my brain that screams out in pain
But I’d rather not listen and watch the wretched tears glisten”
I sniffle and take a breath in between sobs.
“So I plug my headphones in, those same old songs
Think they know how I feel, but they’re all wrong”
I bury my face in my pillow yet again, clutching my clothes.
“I can conquer the world, all 4 corners of the earth,
But I simply swirl, because the world not worth”
I sigh in pain, curling into a ball.
“My heart, my pain, spending those days in the rain
Wishing those clouds would go away,
Tryna’ sing the pain away
But I don’t know any good songs, they got how I feel wrong
I’m just trying to make ends meet,
Tryna’ find a song that resonates with my heart beat”
My voice goes shaky and solitary.
“There’s a funeral in my bed, as I stay up in my head
Wishing the voices would go away
Tryna’ drown them out
But my voice has gone hoarse and I can’t scream anymore
I’m just trying to be fine
Tryna’ live a life where my heart isn’t on the line”
I let my body go limp.
“So if I feel low, lower than the floor
I lock the door, ‘cause I can’t take this anymore
I grab a knife, which has more point than my life
And watch the blood go, just watch the blood go”
I choke on my words. And give up on today. “I’ll leave tomorrow to the me of tomorrow” I think, before adding another thought before drifting off to sleep, “What do you know? The pillow ACTUALLY WORKED. WOAHHHHHH.” I scoff at my own joke and fall asleep.
I shuffle my feet to the beat and swing my shoulders to the tune. And I never dance in front of others. But I dance. A lot. But whenever someone asks me to dance, it’s always “I don’t dance.”
I wonder why. There are a lot of things I don’t know about myself. Then is that why I believe everything the voice says?
But I don’t really believe in anything. So there’s a big hole in my heart. I scoff. It’s more like my heart is a hole.
I pick up my phone and open a new document.
“There was once a girl. Where everyone else had compassionate and lively hearts, she had an empty, gaping hole. The hole upset her, and she wanted to fill it up, like a big pothole on a well-used road.
She couldn’t find something to fill her hole , so she remained chained down, surrounded by the same backgrounds and people everyday. And these people had hearts. They singled her out for having a hole and they laughed at her.
Sometimes, when she heatedly walked down the hallways, she would find a person or 2 with their heart chipping off, with tiny holes. So whenever possible, she would sit and fill the hole, as a good person or a good friend should.
She filled so many holes, so one day her friend with a heart wanted to help her fill her hole. When the friend asked “How do I fill the hole?”, the girl replied “I do not know.” The friend grumbled and complained. Then the friend got tired of the girl and the hole. “I don’t want to be friends anymore!!” She bellowed and stormed out the door.
Months later another girl came along. “I can’t fill the hole,” she told the girl, “but I can make it less painful.” The girl smiled and thanked the friend. And it worked. For a while. But the friend had found other friends who didn’t have holes. So without a word, the friend drifted away.
The girl, now with a bigger hole than before, kept it all inside and didn’t share her pain anymore. She learned to pretend to have heart, although she didn’t. It wasn’t easy, but the girl managed to get by. Some days the hole was bearable. Some days it wasn’t. Some days the girl would cry in her room. Some days she effortlessly faked smiles for those heart around her.
Then a friend came along. One with a very big, compassionate and lively heart. “Are you okay?” She asked the girl. “Not really.” the girl admitted, “But I’d rather not talk about it.” The friend simply smiled and said “I’ll wait.”
As time passed, the girl and the friend grew closer together. “A hole?” the friend asked. “Then all we must do is fill it up.” she said with a flawless smile. “How should I do it?” The girl remembered last betrayals and told her friend “I… don’t know.” But this time, she had a real friend. And this real friend simply smiled and looked the girl in the eye. “We’ll figure it out.” And she laughed. “Because that hole can be filled with anything, be it a person, an emotion or memories. You can fill it with something positive or negative. Mundane or meaningful. It’s really your choice. But making that choice… is difficult. So make the right choice.” The girl looked at the friend with tears in her eyes and they both hugged.
The girl still had her hole. But that didn’t stop her from having a heart. Hole or not, the girl was still whole. And it takes only one letter to change ‘hole’ into ‘hope’.”
I click my tongue. “Why did I give it a happy ending?” I ask myself.
I sigh and let myself go limp on my bed. I again chew at my pillow, because that stuff tastes GREAT.
My mind is an angry, hazy, dark mess. My pinky twitches as I try to take a deep breath and calm down. Which doesn’t help, but that’s beside my point.
My mind reels as I angrily text my internet friend, whose life is as bad as mine (if not worse) and my best friend, who is the only person there for me when I need her. I just ate dinner and I can tell I’m gonna vomit. I place my phone on the bathroom floor and crawl to the toilet. And proceed to vomit my whole dinner.
I clutch my stomach and fall on my bed, clearly sick and exhausted. I grumble with an “Ugh” and bury my face in my pillow.
My best friend texts me.
“Are you sick??”
“Technically, I’ve been sick for the last month”
“Bro, don’t come to school tomorrow.”
“I don’t have a choice.”
“In the UK, it’s illegal to come to school for the next 2 days if you vomit.”
“Yes, because we live in the UK.”
A few seconds pass.
“I’m sorry for sass”
I sigh and switch to the chat with my internet friend.
“Hey you okay?”
“No really, I feel like absolute crap.”
“Drink warm water. And sour stuff.”
“And lie down.”
“1. I’d probably get screamed at by my mom again if I lie down.”
“2. I can’t go downstairs. I was supposed to be asleep half an hour ago.”
“Hope you get better soon.”
“I hope so too.”
Then my WiFi dies. I grumble and chew on my pillow, after resorting to lying around in my bed.
Here I sit, pondering how to end this half-hearted, heavy, depressing narrative. Maybe with a flourish. Maybe with a suicide.
But in truth, that’s not how most real-life stories work. People like me, people with holes for hearts and a voice in our heads, we live. Day by day. And we stay the same. We breathe the same air as you, or maybe even sit next to you in class. We may be on your TV screen, or even the room across from you. We’re everywhere, grasping at the straws of breath, relief, a break from everything.
Not all of us have amazing stories, but they’re stories itching to be told. In truth, this narrative was never about me. It was about us. All I ask of you is to listen. Listen and you will hear.
You will hear the agonizing cries of the people with a hole for a heart, a voice in their heads and a story waiting to be told.