G’mork: Foolish boy. Don’t you know anything about Fantasia? It’s the world of human fantasy. Every part, every creature of it, is a piece of the dreams and hopes of mankind. Therefore, it has no boundaries. Atreyu: But why is Fantasia dying, then? G’mork: Because people have begun to lose their hopes and forget their dreams. So the Nothing grows stronger. Atreyu: What is the Nothing? G’mork: It’s the emptiness that’s left. It’s like a despair, destroying this world. And I have been trying to help it. (The NeverEnding Story, 1984)
Disclaimer: I am writing this in good mental health with no thoughts of suicide or self-harm. This article is from notes I recorded during my depression.
(Taken from notes dated November, 2013) Depression is a selfish disease. It demands the lion’s share of my being with all the tact of a bratty two-year-old. And that kid runs around in my head claiming everything as his. The unruly toddler points at my dignity and screams, “Mine!” He toddles along claiming the empty space in my head; the place I would otherwise escape to in my delusions and daydreams. It takes that spot all the while screaming, “Mine!” My thoughts are his thoughts. “Mine!” The terrible two-year old takes my health as my heart flutters and falters. He takes my youth as I age so much between less frequent shaves. Depression, he wants everything. He is Peter Pan who manages to take so much for so long never outgrowing his “me-mentality.” No, he goes on about what is not mine until there is no recognizable piece of me left.
(Taken from notes dated January, 2014) I miss my empty space most of all. You can turn my brown hair gray. You can add pound upon pound of weight. You can make my health fail. You can take my identity. But damn you for squatting in my empty space. You have no right to be there. My empty space was where I communed with G-d, but it’s hard to commune when your consumed with a nagging little bastard urging you to “Go on do it. Do it! No one will miss you. Do it. Do it. Do it….” And his voice is not alien. It is my voice. It is my breath. This intrusive, nagging voice is as involuntarily-omnipresent as my breathing. Depression you’re a damnable constant. A constant that now occupies where I went to reflect on the past, consider the present, and fret over the future with the Almighty. Horror vacui. (Aristotle) It seems that no amount of pills, electrocutions, or hours of therapy will evict you.
(Taken from notes dated September, 2014) I’m not sure how or when I broke back into my sanctuary, my space. It feels cavernous to me. I’m altogether agoraphobic. I got use to my cramped I’m-flying-coach-seated-beside-a-fat-man space just outside the door to my sanctuary.
I miss G-d. And no amount of reminders of how he moves in mysterious ways or why there were only one set of footprints in the sand makes me feel any more comfortable. Its odd to visit a once familiar space now experiencing it as a foreign country. This country’s borders mark an absence where once there was a presence. It is just space now, just damnable space as empty as a widower’s ring finger.
(Taken from notes dated December, 2014) I used to talk to G-d, obsessively. I am Paul praying without ceasing (1st Thessalonians 5:17). I can’t do it nowadays. It is impossible to pray when your thoughts recommends ways to off yourself weighing the merits of each method. It is impossible to pray when my anxiety makes me feel like I’m falling and I can’t put out my arms out to break my fall. I never hit the ground. I. Never. Hit. The. Ground. Isn’t this when the Spirit helps me in my weakness interceding in wordless groans? (Romans 8:26) I am unable to manage actual groans much less metaphoric ones. It is hard to say an “Our Father” while simultaneously calculating what is a lethal dose of Ambien. And I cannot manage a “Hail Mary” while considering the best places to down that Ambien.
(Taken from notes dated January, 2015) Damn you space. If you were filled with something, anything, I wouldn’t notice you? What’s worse is my space was as familiar as my room with each thing in its assigned spot. My room where I could tell if even a book was shifted on a shelf. I could tell that that kid, depression, had been in my room messing with my belongings. Absence, you are clue enough.
There are so many nagging questions that I can’t shake. What if I was always alone in my sanctuary? What if the only being in that space was me? What if I was both the Penitent and my Confessor? What if no one was tending the proverbial light at the end of my metaphoric tunnel? There are things far worse than discovering that the light was from an oncoming train. The more disturbing realization is that nothing is really that…nothing.
G’mork is an appropriate illustration. Winston Churchill referred to his depression as his “Black Dog.” The following link is to a children’s book about depression, click here.