art by Kirsten Kramer

Saving myself when no one else is around

As much of a break God cut me on cancer, he’s not spared me on my return to society. 

Since disappearing into the wilderness on Monday, I’ve reconnected with a former professor of mine from Columbia who has already given me a reporting assignment: to find a way to write about my depression.

I think so anyway. Honestly, I read his note today really fast because my eyes are practically sealed shut from crying.

I know he at least told me to find a different story as a way to tell the story I want to tell, which I don't have any idea about, but should probably involve my depression, since it’s the thing I can’t recover from.

Slaying cancer is easy sometimes it turns out. As much of a break God cut me on cancer, he’s not spared me on my return to society. It’s become impossible and I don’t know why. I have a feeling it would all make a lot more sense if I could feel my fingers or my toes.

But I cannot because they are symptoms of my depression I’m fairly certain. And so I am going to keep typing until the sensation returns because I don’t know what else to do.

I’m not reporting right now because of this depression so I can’t even complete the assignment that can save me from myself. So now I just think about how I won't find a way to report a story that will allow me to explain what I simply cannot by further analyzing myself.

Because I’ve hit a wall doing that.

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It all kind of reminds me of my favorite book — Infinite Jest, which is one of the most misunderstood books of all time because most people haven’t bothered with it.

I couldn’t stop bothering with the book or with its author, David Foster Wallace, who was already dead by the time I discovered him. I was in college when he committed suicide, I’m pretty sure.

My boyfriend at the time, a total bro, was obsessed with him and made the introduction.

It took that boyfriend about a decade to finally finish the book. He was so proud that he actually violated his own agreement with himself to contact me and tell me what he had accomplished.

I would wager he still doesn’t understand the point of the book, which is about consumerism as a national sickness, one of the side effects of which is debilitating depression, which Wallace explained for the first time in my life as a physical illness, in the book.

The illness was so debilitating that Wallace eventually hung himself over the unfinished manuscript of The Pale King, which is apparently his answer to the disease, which is mind-numbing boredom.

I never read the book because I guess I never finished digesting Infinite Jest to go out looking for answers. But I am reminded of it now as I rack my brain, trying to figure out ways to save myself from my own physically paralyzing depression.

My depression has become so bad that I am unable to do anything. I’ve stopped watching television. I’ve stopped making plans. I don’t know what plans to make with depression.

Every few hours it becomes so unbearable to sit in the same position that I lie chest down on the floor, to feel some kind of pressure push back against myself.

Eventually I start to sob and I feel the pressure release. When it becomes so boring that I can no longer stand the silence, I try to do some stretches, mostly out of habit.

The stretches pull on limbs that have been ignored for so many days now that they feel suddenly hot as if they are defrosting from the cold.

Out of breath, I stand and go to the bathroom to find a tissue and blow my nose. I then collapse back on the couch and try to find the will to look for the remote, just to pass a few moments.

I finally quit pretending I care and lie down on the couch on my side and close my eyes. My body twitches probably because I drank too much alcohol yesterday to pass the time.

I’ve already promised L I would quit with the drinking because it’s no way out of depression, that much of which I’m aware.

The boredom itself becomes the pain. I switch to my back and rub what feels like a stranger’s hand over my belly, which hurts too, and coo myself to sleep.

I’ve survived a few more minutes which will eventually turn into a few hours which will eventually become days, I tell myself.

It’s time for me to save myself. The fog will pass.

I cry again, this time for my favorite writer, a fellow depression warrior, who was lost to the cause before he wrote for the rest of us the manual on surviving.


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