Guest Contributor on ‘Getting Better’

Throughout my life, I have battled a cold-blooded monster; I have been trapped inside a twenty-foot hole. There has been a small rain cloud constantly floating above my head. However metaphorically and painfully artistic you wish to put it, I have a thorough knowledge of what it’s like to be eaten alive by your thoughts. I understand emptiness.

It happened slowly. Maybe Depression was looking in the real estate section of the sunday paper and saw my brain was up for grabs, or maybe my mind offered paid utilities with a view that he just couldn’t resist. He didn’t have an official move in date, instead he obtained keys and gradually invaded. His boxes piled until stacks reached the ceilings and I became his official home.  

A darkness systematically filled my head and a hole opened in my gut. My speech slowed and my shoulders slumped. My world became gray. I did not feel like a person, but an embodiment of self-loathing. I couldn’t bear to look in the mirror; I hated everything I was. My existence was something I almost couldn’t bear. 

It became a burden to live. I slept constantly to escape, sleep was beautiful, sleep was death without commitment. I still vividly remember the harsh slap in the face of waking up; the realization that this tangible nightmare was my reality made me sick to my stomach.

I cared about nothing; I went through the motions of day-to-day life without the least bit of enthusiasm or vigor. My grades dropped drastically, I was cut off fom any mental capabilities. I wanted so badly to do well in school but I physically could not. That’s what really killed me. My whole life I’ve always been the smart kid. I made good grades effortlessly and even in the midst of all my self-hate, I knew I was intelligent. Being aware that I was squandering away my potential exacerbated the darkness.

I could feel myself wasting away. I needed help but I assumed no one would care or understand, so I never talked about it — I was screaming and no one could hear. I wanted to tell my friends and family, but at the same time I just wanted to be left alone.

My only venting mechanism was writing. Writing was the only thing I truly wanted to do besides sleep. I could say what I wanted, however I chose, without fear of judgment. Microsoft Word was my only valued possession, I wrote pages upon pages about my feelings or lack thereof. Prior to my new roommate, I wrote stories and brought my day-dreams to life.

Writing always seemed to be just a habit, but depression made it blossom into  a passion. I wrote everyday, it was the closest thing to happiness.

Being able to let everything out into words was cathartic for me — it clicked. It felt so natural to form sentences and construct paragraphs. That’s something I got out of depression, I found my love and improved my aptitude for writing.

One slightly less bleak day, I woke up in the morning and I actually felt something I hadn’t felt in what seemed like ages. I felt eager; I wanted to do things and I couldn’t help but smile because I knew it was real. The pain had lessened and just as gradually as depression moved in, he moved out. As the days passed, my personality restored itself. My sarcastic sense of humor and outspokenness came back. I was whole again.

I have not forgotten the tenet that took up residence and in time took everything else. I have tied a leash around that monster, built a ladder up out of that hole, and purchased an umbrella.

Going through depression led me to truly understand it’s essence, and develop a desire to effectively help other people who suffer.

I don’t want my story to evoke pity, because depression is not the end, things always improve, even if the situation feel dismal — it gets better.

This post was contributed by Catherine Balcom. You can read some more of her work at her new blog, Obscene Iridescence

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