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On depression

Depression has infinite mouths, all black.

In each mouth are teeth, giant plates of shale, slowly grinding away. The confusing knot of throats twisting between them are thick gray moss over ageless rock.

Depression chews you up with one mouth, digests you for a while, chews you some more, and spits you out with another mouth.

Sometimes you didn’t even realize when you entered the mouths. Depression is sneaky like that, and then the dark chewing slowly becomes the only thing.

During the digestion, you disappear into yourself. The passage of time is painful here, but not as painful as attempting to imagine anything else.

Each crunch takes hours, or days. Long pulses of effort that drain everything from you. You can feel the cycle in your bones.
Saying you grow comfortable with it would be a lie, but it grows in you.

Sometimes it is worst when you wake up, and the day begins to clear it until you dread sleep. Other times, upon waking you manage to briefly forget the teeth about to crush you, and the dread settles slowly as the jaws come together. Most of the time, sleep doesn’t seem to come at all and your zombie body and mind lie uncaring in the circular robotic chewing motion.

Eventually you find yourself lying in hibernation in the tangled throats between the infinite mouths, passing from numbing pain to numbing nothing. Then, often without any seeming reason, you are back under the teeth. Grinding. This is not a sharp pain, it is just a dull silent roar that overrides anything else.

It just is.

And there is nothing else for that time.

Weeks or months or years later, you accidentally stumble out of one of the mouths. It is no surprise that your emotional muscles are sore and atrophied; daylight is a scraping sandpaper on your eyes. So, out in the light, you walk around but don’t have the strength to step away from the skull and its mouths. Soaked with the saliva of self-loathing, you no longer believe anyone would want to know you, to talk to you, to build anything with you. You can’t even tell what you are anymore, under the layers of bruises and loose raisin-textured skin and mouth-slime. You take a few steps but judge them unworthy of the effort. So you blink at the world outside a few times without really seeing it, and crawl back into the nearest mouth; you resign yourself again to the chewing.

Each mouth loves you in a way nobody else does. It loves having you in it, when love is the furthest thing from your mind. It wants to chew you until you fall apart into ashes. It will chew you until you fall apart into ashes, unless you stop that cycle and try something new. If you stay, you will sink into the mouth and only it will speak to you. Sometimes you can escape it for a while, wander off, and start to rebuild… but the pattern calls you back, and you sink into it again, saddened but somehow more comfortable in it because that grinding sodden mouth is the thing you know best.

Yet, outside those jaws, away from the mouths, there are people who want to help. They like cleaning the saliva off, exercising the shrunken conversational muscles of the escapees, learning to laugh at the ridiculous parts of life, and discovering what gems were polished by those awful chewing jaws.

Often, these people have spent parts of their lives in similar crunching cycles. Yet nobody shares the same mouths. They are individualized, solitary worlds. Standing apart from each other, each infinite maze is carefully constructed for each suffering person. And we, the teeth-marked, do find that truly living outside the mouths is hard. But that life is discovered only by talking to each other and leaning on each other when we feel like retreating to the darkness of the grinding depression.

If you are in the mouths right now, wait until you get an opportunity to step outside. Then talk to someone. Don’t listen to people who say things like “Just be happy!” or “Ignore all that, don’t look back!” The infinite mouths do exist, and those people are in denial, trying to run from the mouths the only way they know how.

But there are other ways to deal with the grinding depression and its unending teeth. You can write about it. You can make art of various kinds to channel it in different ways, to examine its power. You can talk about it some with people who actually understand. You can stare at the infinite mouths from outside instead of under the grinding, and take a different perspective.

If you are standing in the dying brown pastures the mouths slaver away in, staring at their dark openings, just remember: there are other places. There are other people out there. Don’t think that the mouths and rocks and soggy moss are all there is. There is much more to this strange world we’re all a part of.

Trade perspectives.

Try new things.

And step outside that cycle.


categories: writing