I’m scared and alone. Cold and lonely. Anxiety racks my brain, sending a flood of hormones and electrical signals through my body. I should be running, climbing, fighting. Instead I’m sitting in bed, in my studio apartment, in comfort. I’m well fed, showered, warm. Yet none of these elevate the aforementioned feelings of dread. The thing that scares me isn’t some attacking horde. It’s not a ravenous beast or a natural disaster. It is the silent stalker that hunts and kills many men of today. It is stress. Anxiety over money.
I sat out on the land today, in the trees and the wind. The sun slowly slithered away, irradiating the evening sky in hues of pink and orange. Dirt beneath my hands. Scratches from shrubs I crawled through. Mosquitos buzzing my ears. Birds on wing, lapping the last of the days light. I’m happy here. I want for nothing.
I think to myself how long should I stay here. A minute. An hour. Forever. What if I never return. If I do return, what is it that drives me. Hunger? Loneliness? The need to tell someone how cool sitting watching the sunset is? I find nothing overly motivating to drive me to my house, nothing to run indoors from. Happy isn’t the right word. Content would be more suited. Peacefully content.
Finally my dog finds me. She’s so excited to find me she runs past me several times. If I stay quiet she would have gone right by. I’ll go home and feed her.
Hours later, indoors, staring at screens. Emails. More bills, to be added to the already burdening pile. $1000 bill. It actually feels like I’ve been punched in the stomach. All peace evaporates like the paint being blown off a house in a nuclear test. Fear. Scarcity. I can’t pay that. Instantly my creativity drys up, the darkness of depression consumes me. How can I get money? Who owes me? Where can I get more?
I’m in a beautiful, comfortable studio apartment. At the same time i’m in a prison. I’m in a tomb.
I am no stranger to depression. Growing up as an introvert lends itself to a predisposition towards it, and now that dark friend lays his hand upon my shoulder once more. It’s a dizzying spiral down, unchecked, with no one to stop me. I think the thing not often considered with depression is that it is based on the fear of the fall, which is illogical. If you are going to fear something it should be the sudden stop at the end. Only there is no real stop, that why depression can be a trap, a fall in constant fear of an eventuation that never comes. It occurs to me now that the splat would be much better.
That sounds a tad suicidal and that’s far from my meaning. It occurs to me that it would be much better to fall to my knees and say ‘Help me’, to fall upon the sword and realise defeat, than to languish in this purgatory of descent.
As a man, this is exactly the sudden stop that I fear. To admit that I failed, that I fell, that I am less than perfect. What will you all think of me? It’s hard enough to navigate the minefield of modern masculinity as it is but this situation is a prime example of how far we haven’t come. We are still Cavemen.
I should be outdoors. I should be running and dodging and jumping. I should be fighting an epic fucking battle. Instead I’m in my comfortable bed in a nice warm room, experiencing the same physiological response as my Tarzan self would if he were in battle. No attackers. No cliff face climb. Just numbers on a screen of an imaginary system of make believe bartering we call ‘money’. My brain is like a Commodore 64 trying to deal with Mac OSX. Old hardware in a world full of freshly updated operating systems.
I feel like crying in the shower. I feel like King Theodin before the Orc invasion ‘How did it come to this?’.
I will fight it! I tell myself. I will find more money, more ways to earn, more people to get it off. I will do what I have done before in this situation, which now that I think about it lead me back to where I am now. No that doesn’t seem right.
No, I will not fight. I will fall. I will splat. I will sit in bed and pour my self out through words onto a screen, the same screen that caused this pain. And then I will show it. Show it to you. Have you look upon me, open, fallen. Understand how hard it is to be a man in this world. Right now I’m not a rock. I’m scared and alone in the dark. And I want you know that that is ok. That it is perfect.
The problem of being depressed is not being depressed, the problem is not knowing it ok to be depressed. Saying it’s ok to talk is the first step. Actually talking is the next.