(Artwork by me, watercolor and ink)
Depression wore a black cloak and didn’t have much of a face. He was always quiet, except when he was screaming in my ear. I tried to look at his face but only saw a blur. Over time, I thought I could maybe look at him in the eye.
I call him a ‘he,’ and as a transgender person, I am sensitive to pronouns and gender identity. In truth, I’m not sure he’s a ‘him’. I call him that because I like to be called ‘he,’ and I guess it is a form of projecting. He sat down in my livingroom, never making a sound. In person, he is a lot larger than I would have thought. He took up a lot of space, the entire couch and head nearly hitting the ceiling. For a quiet being, his presence was massive. A monolith, a black, formless cloud that seemed to suck all the atmosphere in the room.
I wasn’t sure what to say to him. It seems like he has followed me my entire life, and probably knows everything about me. Yet, we have never said a word to each other. What do I say? How do I begin?
“Hi,” I said, lamely.
I could feel him look at me, even though I didn’t meet him in the eye. I felt intimidated, but I didn’t want him to know that. I didn’t want him to know that the reason we were talking was so he could eventually fuck off. But, he probably already knew that, which made me feel stupider. (Though, deep down, I felt I could win. I made him, didn’t I? I really wanted to believe that.)
“I’d like to talk about things, like. Why you’re here, and why you follow me around. Why you make my life so miserable,” I said. I could feel a twinge of anger and resentment. It was hard to be civil. But, I didn’t want to be accusatory– that was just going to make it worse and possibly make him bigger and stronger.
“You know why,” Depression said. I was surprised at his voice. Empty. It sounded empty, like it didn’t have a voice. It sounded like an echo down a cold, dark hole.
“Well, uh, when did you start coming around? What has made me so depressed?”
If a big black blob could cross his legs and look cocky– then he crossed his legs and looked cocky. Like a cat licking his paw after he mangled a songbird for fun.
“It was easy. Your childhood was miserable. You called out to a friend.”
“And you answered?” I asked.
“No, no one did. It left a void for me to fill. So I came. I was there.”
“So, why won’t you go away?” I asked, keeping my tone even.
Depression seemed to shift in his seat. The blanket of blackness on the sofa churned. I couldn’t say it was laughing, but it seemed to grow bigger, as if inwardly guffawing at my predicament. Somehow, it was absorbing the room, making everything seem tightly pulled in its direction. Depression was a black hole that I, and my entire livingroom, was being sucked into. A hungry void without teeth and only appetite.
“You created me because you need me,” it said after what could have been a second, or maybe an entire eternity.
I didn’t want to argue. I felt so drained of my energy that I could have been drunk. I wanted to lay down.
“I want to get to know you better,” I said finally. I wasn’t sure if I said it out loud or only in my head. It was the only thing I could say, because everything else felt like it had been taken. But, depression was still hungry. Even if it took everything from me, it wasn’t going to be satisfied. It wouldn’t be satisfied until I was nothing. All I had left was to know who and what it was.
My suggestion seemed to appease it. It sat back in the sofa, resigned, or bemused.
“Then, I will show you,” it said in a low rumble, like a distant storm. It all went black until I could remember everything.