I was sifting through Instagram the other night on my Greenland Diaries account when I came across a particular post from a young woman suffering from depression. The picture attached to her profile was of a dark monster crawling up a wall. It was completely black, with a few etches of symmetry spawning out in the shapes of walls, chairs, and a bed. In the corner of bedroom was a shredded bed, like a piece of tarp strung over some debris after a natural disaster. Atop the bed was a woman curled over, holding her head in her hands like it was about to fall off. Behind her, rising out of her spine like smog off a factory chute, was a living piece of darkness with an emotionless face. Ghoul, phantom, ghost, specter, or wraith, all could’ve been applied to this image. Its edges were consuming the room. You really couldn’t tell where it ended or started inside itself. Below the picture was the text from her: “This is how I feel when I’m depressed. I hate this. I can’t stand it.” She then listed a small army of antidepressants she was using to no avail.
I’ve suffered from depression my entire life. Not just bouts of blues or sadness when the sun goes down too often, but outright severe depression. Multiple therapists have diagnosed me with this daily drum. Every single day I deal with it through writing. If I didn’t channel this feeling of hopelessness into my writing, monsters, or creative world, I would be dead or lost. Posting images of monsters on Instagram, this hasn’t been the first time I’ve watched people use this nightmare symbolism. In fact, it’s quite often that a whole waterfall of abominations trickle down my feed like some sort of gate to the underworld broke open. I wasn’t surprised to see someone talking so honestly about their problems on social media. I mean, come on.
No matter how common it is for us to vent, share, or confide in social media outlets. I still feel for the people going through these issues. I responded to the woman with a comment: “I’m sorry. I know where you’ve been. I attempted suicide in January 2012. It’ll get better. Maybe you can find a way to express these emotions like I do through monsters and writing.”
I immediately felt exposed to the entire world, like someone had stolen my diary, made copies of it, sold it to people a decade ago in high school, and were now reading it. Yes, I still write in a diary. No, none of my buddies in high school would care about my diary, though they’d probably use it as toilet paper and then give it back to me. Some might just burn it. Others bury it in a hole with a firecracker or small grenade. Boil it with acid. Throw it off a bridge into a river. You know, typical things.
I felt like blood without a scab over it. Oxygen itself was burning me. I had never told the world about my suicide attempt, which I won’t go into detail about now, that’ll be a post for another day. I have told my wife, and my parents about it. I told them after I put my dog down this last year. My dog Millie was the savior behind my attempt, and when she was gone I felt like I owed it to her to be honest to my parents about it. It made for a slightly awkward ride home from having my dog put down.
I was so flustered by my blatant honesty about depression, I completely disregarded the username or any info of the person I posted on. I went back looking for her, but as I said before there are dozens of depressed people out there with monsters as metaphors, why do you think the horror genre is booming currently in Hollywood. Why are shows like Game of Thrones and the Walking Dead so popular despite having heinous content and disturbing characters? We all have a ton of unrecognized sadness and trauma lingering around our lives, so watching media where people get destroyed in epic and tormenting fashion we can all relax, sip our wine, lean away from the screen and say: “God, I’m really, really, glad I’m not that person. That makes the fact that I was physically and emotionally abused by my partner of seven years okay. So yes, bring on the beheading and sewn together dire wolf. I’d hate to be that guy.”
Using perspective to deal with the shitty things that have happened to you only works so long, kind of like one of those cheap little band aids that’ll eventually get wet and hang off of you like a squished, tan slug. Eventually, after perhaps years of denial, you’ll come face-to-face with the realization that goddammit I want closure and I don’t care about half the tragic stories on the other side of the globe that are supposed to make me feel better. I just want to feel better. Something really shitty happened to me, and it’s not diminished nor increased compared to other suffering in the world, it’s just different.
I just hope this woman is okay. Beyond the rhetoric and rants above, let her know that we live in this evolving painting of emotions. Depression doesn’t go away, but it does lose its potency like really old pain medication. Have hope that you were happy at one point, or else you wouldn’t be able to realize you’re depressed. Be okay out there lady.
You’re not alone.