I honestly don’t know what I intend for this entry to be.
There’s always a scene early on in space movies — after a super thrilling five minutes of attempted puzzle solving or cascading catastrophes or maybe just a few seconds of some unforeseen complication that leaves someone flung out into space, alone and drifting into the abyss. In that instant, to convey to the viewer how, frankly, f*%ked this person is, there’s a camera shot of that little body enveloped in black, maybe with a planet in the background for even better perspective. That shot is paused in my brain at all times. For example, something like this or this or this. If I had to answer how it feels to be depressed, which no one does because that question is like soooo nineties, I would show them those photos. It’s like you’re cut loose from whatever bound you to your reality, and you’re just spinning. Spinning, rolling, gliding into darkness. I feel loose, unrestrained by people or obligations or anything at all, weightless. My attachments, my sense of self, my vanity, my past, my future, it’s all torn from me with one malfunction of whatever crazy robot contraption allows people to be in space. This sounds freeing, like a midnight dip into cold water, leaving all your belongings on the beach. But depression isn’t like that. Depression cuts those things away from you, those feelings of attachment, those bonds that tether you to you, and sends you spinning, spinning, spinning. If you spin long enough, your body even ceases to strike you as your body; it’s only a fleshy vessel through which my toxic sludge consciousness can make itself known as master of this house. When you’re alone in the darkness, spiraling into space, there’s not much to keep you company besides the darkness itself. It becomes liquid; it finds its way into your clothes and into your ears and eyes. It covers you before it drowns you. When that stage is reached, the thought of any past ties to a reality you once knew makes you laugh. It makes you howl with laughter to think that any part of your tar-baby corpse would be wanted anywhere in that reality. Because you remember that reality. And that reality was colorful, and functional, and fun. It was road trips with friends and FaceTimes to your parents back home just to catch up. It was rich in humor and opportunity, where theatre students saved up to go to Broadway Shows and boys left baseball practice with their windows down playing Steely Dan. It was watching the Cosby Show on Nick at Night and listening to your parents flirt in the background. It was laughing at your friend’s ugly dog. It was a place where you thought just maybe you’d get swept up into fame for no reason whatsoever. That world was gilded in silver and gold. Little people had the power and the courage to see how their little voices fared in this world. We tricked the richest people into eating the weirdest and grossest food (okay obviously this is a wrongful, blanket statement, but think about like…caviar. or any episode of KUWTK ever) so that we didn’t have to. This world was good. It had a quiet groove to it that kept you in the pocket. All you had to do was tune into it. That world was light.
This place is dark. Every so often you’ll roll your way into the light place, and you have to pick yourself up and get the black off of before anyone notices. The tragedy of your situation, though I know you know it already, is that you only have a few hours, maybe a day, at the very most a few days, to live in that world. So, you get your plans in order, you do what you’re supposed to, and you try to wave at the nutcrackers lining the stairs (you think they might have been called “friends” once). You visit your local spots and exchange pleasantries with people who know you from somewhere. Maybe a dance some time ago. You hop around with a smile sutured into your face because you want everyone to know you’re back! You’re back! You’re back! You’re back there.
You don’t know what happened, you thought the people at the party liked the story, you thought they would laugh, but now you’re spinning, spinning, spinning. In the darkness, you’re your only companion. Sometimes you look back on the world you remember, sometimes you analyze over and over again what sent you back into the black. Perseverating about how you got from home to space makes you open your mouth and scream, but no one can hear you. The liquid blackness pours down your throat and into your heart, sheathing it. You come around again and slide face first into the grassy knoll of the world you…swear you’ve seen before. You get up, you get moving, and you find that you barely remember where you usually go when you get back. Everyone around you is a different plastered face and the sidewalks aren’t how you remember them. You’re afraid. You go to people you think you are supposed to know, but they don’t understand the language you speak now. When you reach deep to remember someone that used to keep your heart beating, you leap up to go find them. You run to every place you could ever recall seeing them in your blurry memories, and you run, you run, you run, and at the peak of it all you realize they’re gone. No one to hold your heart and fuel its palpitations, no source of life to imbue you with the light you once had. You depend on another to do what you yourself are incapable of without any light left. So you run the opposite direction, you run down, down, down into caves where rubies fall from the ceilings and you ask the pretty man to make it all go away. And he does.
And you are back. Spinning, more slowly now, with no sense of urgency. The liquid black has fully encased you; the little crevices through which it once seeped slowly are all now awash with black. The black is no longer malleable; it simply sheathes itself over you again and again.
You land back in the world you kinda knew. You see things differently. The red lipstick you would have complimented that girl across the bar on becomes an ugly, bloody stain at the butt of a cigarette she smoked trying to impress a guy. Groups of guys biking with their surfboards strikes you as the saddest thing in the whole of human existence, because you can see so clearly how hard they’re trying to grasp onto the most transitory of things. The nice weather makes you nervous that people will see your darkness now. The world seems more solid than it did a few go-rounds ago, but it’s re-solidified differently. All its bright parts, — the late nights of decisions only bad enough to make us feel wild, the excitement of getting to know a cute stranger, the first you-know-you-mean-it kiss, the smell of fresh flowers and babies and money, the secrets whispered to your best friend in a room full of crowded people, the feel of mildly sunburnt cheeks while sipping a cheap margarita, the feeling of accomplishment when you get a good grade back, the bright parts — they all get caught up in the funnel of a furious tornado that destroys and displaces and spins and spins and spins…and at the end of it, the little fragments that comprised those gleaming moments are scattered across an area so vast you couldn’t even hope to piece a whole back together from them. You walk slowly. There is no hurry, nothing to get back to. You see a shimmer from a fragment of times past in the gutter, and you lean to pick it up.
Back. The darkness is warm now. It feels good to let go of a world that used to be yours. That place betrayed you. It had all the bells & whistles and gallant trappings to trick you into thinking you would be leaving that world a queen of autumns and laughter and rebellion. But you know better now. By this point your body, and certainly your mind, are not your own.
Dipping back into the world. The nutcrackers wave at the grinning masks, and the scattered remnants of old colors surround your heavy feet. You know slowly and all at once that you don’t belong here anymore. The black got you, and it’ll keep you.