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What Is Wrong? Why Can't I Know?

A Personal Essay

I feel as though I am drowning, not in the sea but in myself. And yet it is not even truly me, it is the black sea of depression and I know others are near. I just can’t see them… and it hurts to know that others are near but to still feel completely isolated because I cannot reach them. I wake up and the pain immediately washes over me once again; it hurts so bad and I cannot find the right words to calm my mother’s nerves as I descend deeper into myself. I walk to class, tripping upon my own feet, almost falling with every anxious step. I wish I was falling, in reality not metaphorically, off of a cliff or into the traffic that never seems to stop. I do not want to want to die but I do not believe I have the will or the want of existence anymore. Depression, however, is not a valid excuse to miss my obligations, the reason will not hold up in an academic court or any for that matter unless, of course, insanity is pled. So I stay silent as I drown because I don’t think that there is hope for me any longer… I will feel like this forever.

Forever. That’s a really fucking long time. Especially to feel as though your very existence is a burden but to also feel as though offing yourself would, in turn, cause nothing but hassle to those who love you. I don’t want to be a hassle, I don’t want to cause grief, I simply just want to stop. But maybe forever is not truly forever. Maybe the chemical imbalance will fix itself and I can know happiness again. It’s a foreign feeling at this point—like a memory blurs over time, depression wipes out the very root of happiness in an individual. I will fight my serotonin deprived brain because hurting myself is one thing but causing pain to those I love is something different all together. What if I am no longer myself, though? Is it still unfair to others then? I think not but a hatred grows inside me, and I don’t know if it is for myself or for my brain. I wish it was over and I was simply floating near sandy beaches with no worries or fears. Sadly, I am drowning and there is no lifeboat or flotation device to save me. No one around to grab the flailing hand, except me, but I lack what is needed to do this.

The knife that stabbed me is no longer visible to the outside. My skin has healed around it. Yet it digs into me, somehow managing to get pulled slightly out before plunging deeper. And I cannot find the location of this knife, my body aches everywhere. I am stabbed everywhere. I am a victim to a monster I cannot see, yet alone stand up to. Because how does one stand up to their brain and the thoughts it provides? We like to think that we are not robots, that as humans, it is us in control. I, on the other hand, know damn well I am not in charge of my actions. My brain is. And yes most days I am stronger than my brain so I get out of bed and go to class. But some days it all seems so dangerous, so terrifying. It is hard to explain the fear that overcomes me during days like this. It is not like watching a horror movie where there are jump scares that make you scream before you giggle. It is more like knowing you are being followed down the alley, it is knowing he is planning something, it is not stopping him before it is too late. But worse.

Life is not fair, everyone knows this. I know this. I know this. I know this. I am not naive. I am not little. I can protect myself. But can I? I’m a lanky girl that stands 5’9" and has absolutely nowhere near the strength to push someone off of me. Waking up to that, to him, to everything. I had thought I was getting better. In that moment, I shattered, I thought it was my fault. That I did something to provoke him. It’s very common to do this according to my therapists. But it was not my fault. Still, I put on a brave face, try not to cry or worry about the things that could further pose a threat to my sanity. I leave them outside, like wet towels hung out to dry on the hottest of summer days. But they don’t dry—I check every few hours, they are soaking wet. Suddenly they are on fire, I am on fire, the entire goddamn world is burning before my very eyes, and all I can do is embrace the fire as it surrounds me like a caring parent. It whispers to me, “It will be fine, the hurt will subside, you will be fine.” And I feel as though that is true, that it will all be fine as long as everything I have touched is burned away to create fresh soil for others to plant their seeds.

It’s pretty much cliche to write about one’s bouts of depression at this point. Everything that truly needs to be said can be summed by Susanna Kaysen or Elizabeth Wurtzel. Yet, here I am. Only 18. Trying. Trying to make it past this. It’s hard but if Wurtzel could get through Harvard, I should be able to muster the strength to stay at Loyola. But dammit, I can’t. I just can’t fucking do it. I know I’m not disappointing anyone but me. I know my family just wants to support me after all of these years. Starting new medication during your first semester of college, not the smartest things. Things go wrong, there are reactions, suddenly panic attacks rock you to sleep and the darkest thoughts, the ones you push so hard against, they’re here. They’re yelling. Jump. Run. Don’t stop. They won’t even know until it’s over. But the person will always stop. And I will freeze in my tracks on the ledge of the sidewalk, frozen with the fear of almost taking my life. I said it before, I don’t want to die. I just don’t want to be so fucking sad.

First, there was a concern that I could be bipolar. It runs in the family and I scored unusually high on the self given test that was handed to me when I first walked into the doctor’s office. I thought it would be different from the internet—newsflash, it’s not. It’s the same basic ranking scale: “Never” to “Every day.” It’s amazing, she thought I was bipolar. I was never manic, simply impulsive, but that was not driven by a “euphoric high that puts you on top of the world.” It is always driven by my frustration with the world to see that I am not okay, that no I should not be here, and yes I should be hospitalized because I’ve lost my fucking mind and it’s never going to fix itself. And yes, I know I could easily check myself into a hospital. I am 18, an adult by law. But you see, admitting you need help is admitting there is a problem. I am not abnormal, I am not causing distress to others, I am not deviating from the norm in terms of my behavior, I do not have maladaptive behaviors, I am not a danger to others. Or maybe I am abnormal, seeing as I cause constant distress to myself as well as pose a threat to myself on the occasional Thursday or Monday. Okay. Maybe a bit more often.

These are things I see as insignificant. However, they all work towards my diagnosis. They are not insignificant, they are a part of me, they are me to the core. Because who are we if not the very basis of our brain? Serotonin lacking aside, I believe that I could be healthy, I just don’t believe that I will get there in this lifetime. Things have never quite worked out the way I have wanted them to—everyone wants to live a happy life with two caring parents. Instead I got a bipolar alcoholic and a mother who was too unstable to provide us a home on her own. With this in mind, my mother went through many boyfriends and in turn this led to unintentional neglect. Now it was never to the point where I was starving, bones showing, but emotionally my mother was so dependent on her boyfriends, she almost forgot that I was in fact her daughter. I forgive her for this, of course. She was simply doing what she had to in order to keep a roof over our heads and food in the fridge. Granted, shopping always made me sad because we could never buy brand name snacks or if we did they had to be on super sale.

It was difficult as a child, to watch your world be built up before it crumbled again. I watched through a lens that was not my own—I believe it’s called dissociating. I dissociated from who I was at such a young age that eventually I was numb to the hardships that befell my mother and I. I feel as though I am repeating myself with my disparities, this is not what I mean to. By no means do I want the tragic “I can’t believe you went through that” looks which are often given at the end of a story. There are signs, not ones noticeable to others, but to myself. I get sad but I don’t feel it, not until the thought of food makes me nauseous but not having it is just as equally bad. I feel sick no matter what. No matter what I fucking do I’m nauseous and sad and I want to cry.

I just want to do something that will make me feel whole. We spend our lives searching, searching for something that will fill the void we feel. We search and search until we finally find it, but then what’s left? You got what you wanted, so why aren’t you happy? There’s something new that catches your eye, you spend your time wishing for this new thing and you get it eventually. But I don’t think the void can be filled with material things. I think we need what we’ve been missing. Maybe Freud had a point. Maybe all of our issues are derived from our childhoods. In the past few weeks, things have changed. They’ve started looking at me differently, with medication not working the way it should, the idea of bipolar is back. However, it is not the extreme case that everyone knows from television. They think I might have type 2—it’s funny, it’s almost like I’m talking about diabetes. Which I think would be better to deal with than fighting myself just to keep living for another day.

Hopefully, someday I will be able to function normally. Not want to die every waking second of every hour. Hopeful. That is what I need to be. Hopeful they can properly diagnose me so that I can receive what I need to be stable. To be a better person, not only for myself but for those I love most. It breaks my heart to see my mother cry worrying over my mental health. I don’t want that anymore. I don’t want my family to be on guard around me. That’s not what I want, nor is it the energy I want to put out into the world. It’s getting harder everyday, but maybe one day it will get easier. Maybe not. But I can’t lose hope yet. 

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