13 April 2015

Panic and Depression Are Not All They're Cracked Up to Be

I am a fist of my unease - Anne Sexton

I wouldn't know how to handle sanity. What does the fully functional, happy mind do? How do you think when it's so easy and painless without impediments? It's like excepting mediocrity as your base line. Vanilla.

Yet chronic mental illness is draining. Saps your energy. Leaves you limp and your blood feeling cold. Aggravated by the smallest inconvenience. Expelling great loud sighs and pondering a bleak future.

I avoided all that during the flat line phase of my life, faking sanity, getting by on heavy doses of anti depressants. Smiling amiably and feeling very little. My thought process was often bland and uninteresting and my creativity was deflavorized.

Ever disbelieve your happiness? I do. I don’t trust good moods. They are deceits, they are lies I tell myself. There is nothing there giving me joy, it is all illusion. The darkness beckons. The warm comfortable bath of depression. The sinking into melancholy. Surrounded by deep rich waters with waves washing over me and all is misery. The pain is steady and palpable and the most real feeling imaginable. Joy seems a canard. A lie life tells you to mask its truth. And there is no greater truth than panic....

Your hand reaches into a front pocket, pulling, tugging, grasping. The hand comes out and fumbles around. You feel your body temperature go up and your skin gets prickly and you clench your fists and buttocks. You feel light on your feet, much too light, as if you are about to float into the stratosphere. Your face is in a rictus. Teeth clenched. Fear is coursing through your brains. No, you don’t feel as if you are dying. You wish you could. You are more alive than anyone could possibly want to be and it is utterly terrifying and the worst of it is that this feels like your new reality. It is never going away. You are in a permanent state of hysteria and wouldn’t a gallon of alcohol guzzled quickly level things nicely or a pill. You have pills for this and hungrily reach for the bottle and fingers shaking put one in your mouth. You look at the time calculating when you will start to feel normal although just the taking of the pill is a comfort. You are a junky. A different kind to be sure, but you need this pill to feel normal. Meanwhile you twitch and your eyes open wide because closing them would be horrific. Finally you remember to breath normally. A little deeper than normal feels good. Just don’t hyperventilate. You know you can make it. But you’re not sure. You’re sure you can make it. But you don’t know. Finally the magic pill --ativan does nicely --  takes effect and you start to feel better, as if you maybe could function and will not go stark raving mad after all. But you are shaken, to the core of your being. You are no longer in a state of panic but are depressed because once again you were struck quite unexpectedly by the terror of a full fledged panic attack. You feel vulnerable and defeated and not at all in charge of your life. There is no solace. The depression will deepen in the coming hours and days. You will recover and feel good again. Until next time.

And so I struggle but I keep on getting up and moving and doing and being and pushing ahead and trying and searching and I have joys and satisfactions and pleasant encounters and with the wife kisses and more and there are hugs and hellos and two wonderful children and compliments and meals and coffee and tea and there is running and sweating and there is literature and films and music and dreams and poems and there is sometimes meaning and the lights of knowledge and understandings and there is ceaseless curiosity and always there is hope and I wouldn’t know how to give up.

I watched my father die and he never gave into it, he struggled to get up and to talk and to move. Death was all that was wrong with life to him. He wanted to be and fought that battle until I had to tell him it was over and he needed to let go and I’m sorry I did but I had to do it. Never yield. Never give an inch. In all the shit storms never bow out. It is only through the constant struggle that we grow and attain and really become and are who and what we are. Else is meaningless.


Ruben Adery said...

This was so beautiful and painful to read. Fear is coursing through my brains!!

Robert said...

I suffered terribly with anxiety and depression since I was 13 and have blogged a bit about it here http://controlyourmindset.com/1 I lost my best years. It was only last year I finally got a hold on my issues.....I was 49.

dri said...

You're a wonderful writer, I mean... You can express yourself in a way that is impossible not to care about.

Richard Hourula said...

Thanks for your kind words.