REFLECTION IN SLOW TIME

I climb mountains in my mind 

Higher than any visible range on the planet. 

I climb these mountains all day and night, often just high enough to peek over the tops of them, and often for only as long as someone else can stand to look in my direction. 

I’m not writing these words so that anyone will better understand how hard I work to keep myself alive. Right now, in fact, I’m only writing because the alternative is lying in bed with tears in my eyes. I may or may not fall asleep for brief periods of time, but either would be without thought or effort. I would simply… exist. Tonight I would cry because I can feel the weight of the mountains ahead, and I am so very tired of this journey. 

This is a journey that no one else would ever dream about going on with me. Never. Not to this vast, obnoxiously ironic nothingness, which is rife with unimaginably large obstacles that never fail to make lasting impressions. People write poems about them. Sing songs and direct films and plays about them. It’s all such fun for everyone else to consume as entertainment, which is all it will ever be – unless it’s in the context of escape. As in a place to run from screaming, and a place of which we have all learned to be ashamed. Let those of us who suffer deeply and passionately apologize if our depression gets in your way. Heaven forbid it lasts longer than you like. Try to explain it away then. 

Some say a depressed person only remains depressed because they’ve identified with depression for so long, they don’t know how to be anything else. I find that ridiculously hilarious. That’s the kind of thing a happy person would say. It also happens to be 100% accurate. Would you like to know why? Because there is no situation in which we have not also been depressed, we see no reason to think there ever will be an extended occasion of clarity in our lives. And NO! It’s not okay! 

There are, however, no shortage of new techniques to try. In the past four months, to varying degrees of discomfort, I have tried dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), doubling the time I spend with a therapist, naturopathic medicinal changes to both my diet and the supplements I take, completely reexamined experiences that trigger mental distress, and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). I do all of these things along with an already incredibly large list of things I’ve been doing for years. 

And here I am – still –  staying awake and busy with something so that I can put off feeling helpless and alone for a few more hours.  

This is my reality. It has been my reality for many decades, and… I’m still here. I climb mountains with my mind in order to put my shoes on in the morning, and I’m still here. I am an inherently good person who loves his family and tolerates God’s presence. And if you think that’s a loaded sentence, just ask for an explanation some day. I’m complicated because I’m simple, and people don’t need to understand because I’m still here. 

I’m still here, and so are countless others who struggle to exist in their own minds. We find ways to cope, and hope these things are acceptable to the people around us. Our circles. Our teams. And when those fail us, we find less temperamental places to sit. Most often alone. In our collective darknesses. 

So, if you are one of these people, know that I am here with you. Know that I am thinking of you, and that I believe in you. If you are, however, one of the lucky bunch who can choose another channel to watch, I’d like to ask that you consider staying put. For just a little bit longer than you were able the time before. And the next time a little longer still. Let it be a choice you make on nights your loved ones can’t. Make a memory. 

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