Unlike the people I’ve talked to with typical depression or MDD, I like to leave the house. Well, okay, I have to leave the house, not because I’m subordinate to my “piss-poor simulacrum of being easy-going” (thank you, Mallory Ortberg for giving me this phrase. It’s been life changing.), but because as much as my body wants to lie in bed all day, it actually just ends up making me incredibly anxious; however, I don’t want to keep talking about the maintenance that my routine/comfort zone requires.
Let’s be honest here. It’s not like I’m going places and being productive. I’m basically doing the equivalent of lying in bed all day, but at least I’m fully clothed, under the impression I’m not alone, and forced to perform basic hygiene requirements. Leaving the house also ensures that I will eat and possibly interact with another human, which is good because I could easily become malnourished and feral. Sometimes, being surrounded by productive people even encourages me to get some schoolwork done, but more often than not, it reinforces the appeal of having a rich husband (only half-joking here).
I actively dread anything and everything that isn’t writing, listening to music, or partying. Since I’ve been cut off from one of those activities, I’m left alone with my creative process for the most part. Even parties have become artistic fodder now. While I tend to write prose pretty consistently, I only write poetry in spurts and try to get revisions done when the muse’s well is running dry.
All this is to say that I feel productive even when I’m not being productive the way I’m supposed to be. In the back of my mind, there’s clearly a lot of hope that I can still be a writer mostly because every alternative makes me want to die more than the regular amount. And I definitely want to use writing to illuminate what it’s really like to live with a mental illness. Every other pursuit seems pointless because to me, it is.
But anyway, back to why I do all this unproductive writing outside of my room. It’s mostly a dear god don’t make me be alone with my thoughts kind of thing, and the more time I spend alone, the more alien the world feels. If I start thinking too much about Camus’ idea of everything out of context being absurd, I end up staring wide-eyed at a wall in need of a Xanax or Klonopin. That’s when I feel most at risk of doing something dangerous, so being around people helps me stay in a context. Yes, I’m still vaguely aware that the context is absurd, but at least I can look over at someone’s attempt to inconspicuously snapchat to distract myself from the thought.
There’s also an inherent validation of my existence in going outside because when people say “hello,” “excuse me,” or “what’s up?” on the sidewalk, I’m reminded that I am actually a person taking up space in the world. I’m aware that it sounds crazy to be in need of a reminder that I’m a real person, but self-imposed alienation can make one forget those kinds of mundane facts of life. Then I’m like okay, I’m a person. Time to act like it, and I feel motivated to keep the existential crisis-induced thoughts out of my head. I literally have mantras about not thinking about nihilism taped around my room (you know, instead of uplifting quotations or Bible verses). Apparently, awareness of my tendency to drift into thoughts about the terror of existence is the first step in silencing them. Unfortunately, they’re really freaking loud though.
Because here’s the thing that I want to shout from a rooftop pretty much at every hour of the day: HOW ARE YOU NOT ALL TERRIFIED OF EXISTENCE? HOW ARE YOU GOING ABOUT YOUR DAY WITHOUT THINKING ABOUT MORTALITY? TEACH ME YOUR WAYS PLEASE. Like, I want to have a canvassing table where I ask people what they do distract themselves from the void so I can maybe absorb their superpowers of bullshitting themselves through osmosis because god knows I haven’t reached some sort of third-eye-chakra-opening conclusion about the world. I’ve found everyone has existential thoughts if I probe long enough, but no one wants to be probed so I’m stuck probing myself.
And this is the part of my mental illness that I’m convinced medication won’t help. Yes, mood stabilizers can prevent bipolar episodes. Yes, antidepressants can help with OCD, anxiety, and acute depression. Yes, antipsychotics can make me not delusional. Yes, MAOIs can also help with depression. Yes, lithium can stop mania (and make me feel cool af because of that Nirvana song). Yes, nutrition, sleep, and routines can help me function. Yes, Xanax or whatever can stop panic attacks.
BUT I CAN’T MEDICATE AWAY THE VOID. I have been staring into it for three years. The knowledge will stay with me even if I develop better ways to distract myself through therapy and medication. I can never escape the terror of eternal nonexistence or eternal what-the-fuck-ever. How is everyone not imbued with the same sense of futility as me? All my distractions ultimately prove futile as well, and then I’m back looking for the next bullshit thing or unhealthy activity to stop the notion of this will all end, so stop trying from ramming into the sides of my skull like a freaking zoo animal.
And maybe that’s why I leave the house: to see if anyone looks effectively distracted and to hopefully be able to pick up the secrets to his or her successful distraction. So far, I’m not entirely convinced anyone is doing that great of a job, but some people at least don’t look consumed by terror, which is helpful-ish because this goes one of two ways for me: 1) I accept the void and want to try a shit ton of drugs and drink myself to death or 2) I am in denial of the void and become simultaneously scared of death but in want of nonexistence, so vaporization or something begins to sound appealing. Either way, I clearly need a better coping mechanism, so if you have one, lmk. Otherwise, we can stare into the void together and hug each other or cry until it swallows us, I guess. I’ll be around since I’m pretty scared of being physically alone.