In the beginning, it was like the faint buzz of a mosquito. Vaguely aware of it but expecting it to go away. Then it just grew stronger and started to bite me, refusing to go away until I curled up in foetal position, covered by utter despair and helplessness. Why is it bothering me, why can’t it just leave me alone ? I cried to myself.
It took me years to understand depression. To understand that it was here to stay and me wanting it gone only added to the pain. So I decided to call a truce so that I could co-exist with it without ripping my hair out or being too overwhelmed to live.
Something paradoxical happened. When I decided to make my peace with it, I saw a different side to it. I noticed that it wasn’t the big, bad monster that hijacked my life, but that it was apart of me. A hidden aspect of me that had come up for air to tell me something, and I didn’t hear it because I didn’t seek to listen. So I tried. I tried tuning in. It wasn’t intelligible at first, just a static sound. I tried fine-tuning it to make something of it, and I could then hear something I finally understood. It was people doling out what they perceived as advise, but was in fact patronization. It was self-help books that made no sense at all in understanding my condition, and only worked to exacerbate my feelings of despair as I thought there was something inherently wrong with me for not finding the generic ‘fake it ’til you make it’ claim remotely inspirational.
Get it together – they chanted in unison. Getittogethergetittogethergetittogetherget-
I tried to run on my broken feet. I tried to pull myself up with my broken arms. I tried but I couldn’t. It was so excruciating. I wanted to tell them this, but my voice had broken, my heart was shattered with despair. I felt sick to my stomach and disgusted with myself for not being able to follow simple instructions;
1.Will yourself to success
2. If you want to be successful, you have to earn a lot of money and make a lot of friends
3. Ignore the pain and plaster on a smile.
People left. They were sick and tired of training an old dog- no, a dead dog.The barrage of motivational pep-talks died down. Told the last person to close the door behind him and turn off the lights. Let me forget myself in this darkness.
I think that’s when it all made sense. In the darkness, in the solitude, in the bittersweet feeling of not having anything left to lose. The static noise on the radio that didn’t make sense to me. I listened closely, and though at first I could barely make anything out of it, it was something. I was listening with every iota, every cell in me – afraid to even breath in case I missed anything. It was a healing voice, unlike the others who kept poking me and taking jabs at me. It was an embracing and soothing voice. It didn’t order me to do anything, it didn’t make me feel stupid and lazy for not running 20 lapses around the world. In fact, the only thing it uttered was one phrase, over and over again until I was lulled into sleep by its mellow voice, and drifted off to sleep.
‘Listen to your heart.’
When I later woke up, I realized – it was all a terrible nightmare – the taunting and terrorizing. The buzzing and chanting. I was in my own skin, my broken body had healed, my heart – I could hear my heart now, and I was going to travel to a place far away from here. A place where they don’t wear masks and where you don’t have to plaster on smiles. Somewhere my heart will take me.