Stop me if you’ve heard this one - depressed twenty-something writes slam poetry to keep herself together, and she can’t tell if her writing is a symptom of her illness or a sign her recovery.
She bleeds into the keyboard her very most intimate thoughts, assiduously translated into saccharine metaphors with at least some semblance of poetic rhythm, because it’s okay to talk about her depression like it’s a disgruntled crew member staging a mutiny for control of the ship that is her body, but not to say “you know, I’m just. So. Numb sometimes.”
When you ask her how she’s doing today, she responds with “I’m okay” because neither ‘I’m dead inside, how about you?’ nor, ‘Actually, I didn’t wake up ready to depression go-back-to-sleep, so pretty **** great!’ nor, ‘Hoping work today will be eventful enough to distract me from my existential dread,’ are acceptable answers.
See, when she says ‘I’m okay,’ what she means is, “I got out of bed today. Hi-five for effort?”
Depressed twenty-something jokes about how she’s tired because ‘Oh, I didn’t get my full 18 hours’ when she actually slept for a more than adequate ten hours. It’s not acceptable to say ‘I’m tired because of depression’ because that just brings down the mood, doesn’t it?
So she laughs along with every ‘you’re young, you can’t be tired all the time!’, and downs sweet tea, Diet Coke, and coffee that makes her stomach turn and her bladder empty every f i v e minutes, seriously, five minutes because maybe if there’s enough caffeine in her system, she won’t look that bad
When she says ‘I’m tired’, she means “I can’t stop it.”
Depressed twenty-something talks about her future, as if she has one. I’m going to speak six languages, I’m going to work for the U.N., I’m going to live abroad, as if she’s actually certain she will ever leave her small town again. She’s preparing for a future she is at least sixty percent sure she’ll never have. In this economy? With her station in life? Whaaaaat? She’s chasing her dreams knowing they’re dreams, just hoping she ends up...somewhere.
She’s not sure if it’s just the depression and the tell-tale symptom of hopelessness, or if she’s finally a grown-up and is just being realistic. And if she’s telling you the truth? She isn’t sure which one she’s more afraid of it being.
When she says ‘I’m saving for college’ what she means is, “Higher education is marketed to the poor as a way to rise above their station, but actually it’s just going to make things worse, but if I don’t go to college I won’t even have a shot at upward mobility, so...yay student debt?”
Depressed twenty-something keeps an extra bottle of her antidepressants in her work backpack, because her sleep schedule and therefore eating schedule is so irregular, she can’t take her medicine at reliable, set times. But she takes it twice day with her meals.
She doesn’t mind it. In fact, she can’t even think about her life before medication without getting sad. Because yes, sometimes it takes a while to get the motivation to get out of bed. And yes, some days there’s just emptiness where her feelings should be. Most days though, there’s this annoying part of her brain that she just has to keep telling to shut up, and sometimes it listens.
When she says ‘I have to go take my happy pill,’ she means, “I have severe clinical depression. And I have to take medication to live a functional human life. And I want everyone to know because I’m not ashamed.”
When I say ‘I have depression,’ I mean, “I’m mentally ill and I always will be, but most days, I’m happy some of the time. Some days, I am happy all of the time. And some days will just be hard.”