There are three parts to my depression: the sadness, the not sadness and the apathy. While the first two have varying levels, the apathy comes in a lump without warning and stays indefinitely. Unlike sadness which — from the moment I feel the heaviness of its burden on me until the last second when I feel it lift — is loud and never fails to make itself known, apathy is mute. Never has it announced its presence or its departure and it isn’t until days afters its arrival that I realize that I am being held hostage by this stealthy captor.
I’ve talked about the agony of failing to see the point in living, the anguish of the nameless pain that envelops me, tortures me, makes me believe the most awful things about myself, making me beg and pray for peace in any form, but I’ve never talked to anyone about the apathy. By now, I’ve more or less mastered a routine that allows me to “ride the wave” of my sadness when it comes: I remain under the warmth and comfort of my comforters, cuddled with my cats, books and TV remote, and I take it as easy as I can manage, reaching out to a select (unfortunate few) to whom I can express my deepest emotions. I avoid most people unless they are fictional and allow the tears to flow, the nails to scratch, the panic to weaken me, the hopelessness to drown me, the pain to bruise me and once the Sads have ravished me I return a much brighter, lighter person.
The apathy is something I only recently noticed. Having been battling a small mountain of personal drawbacks, I was well prepared for the slide into the Rut that is habitual for me in such times. I loaded my eReader with plenty of Hercule Poirot mysteries, set the TV to Turner Classic Movies and invited my cats to use me as their personal bed and awaited the bad feelings, the tears, the thoughts of suicide and the feelings of utter failure; but they didn’t come. Instead, it felt like nothing happened at all. I lay under my covers with the TV running, the eReader strewn about and the cats peacefully napping and I felt like a hardness had entered me, but hidden itself in my being. I couldn’t pinpoint where I hurt and so I couldn’t figure out how to ease the pain. My mind was blank. I couldn’t birth a thought that lasted more than a second and I was unable to concentrate on anything, good or bad.
“Wouldn’t it be nice to just not live?” is the phrase that pops up almost daily in my life and when it does I sigh wistfully and regret that I was ever born. The phrase crossed my mind again very briefly, but there was no feeling in it; it was just an empty phrase that my mind fed me out of routine. The words felt foreign to me that I couldn’t grasp them and make myself feel the hopelessness that they usually accompanied, and that’s when I realized that apathy was here.
Apathy is worse than wanting to die because when I’m apathetic I cease to want anything at all, good or bad. I always mistake it for a bout of the inevitable return of the Sads and prep myself for at least a full day of letting my demons demoralize me, but when they remain silent and I continue to feel that same heaviness, I’m thrown into a whole new sort of melancholia. I haven’t sorted out how to deal with it yet and I don’t think I ever will because how exactly does one deal with recurring apathy? As soon as that cement block hits, it numbs every part of me and this numbness is so internal and so widespread that I wouldn’t even know where to begin to tackle it if I knew how. It’s a paralysis of the emotions during which I find myself wandering through the house or just laying in bed, corpse-like, unable to connect with myself or the outside world. There ceases to be a difference between living and dying. I fail to want to live or die, be or not be, suffer or not suffer; it’s not that nothing matters, it’s just I just don’t care. It suddenly makes no difference to me what happens to me, to my loved ones, to the world as I know it. Had I not experienced it myself, my rational mind would tell me that that sounds like a sort of peace which is what I constantly crave, but it’s far from it.
It is true emptiness. I may as well be a hollow doll for all the expression I can muster during that time. I am truly useless, emotionless and helpless — I cannot fathom the past, the present nor the future. It is the closest thing I can imagine to death, but a hundred times worse because I am still alive and while I watch the world move around me, I remain motionless, not even watching, just in an desolate daze: I cease to be. And none of it occurs to me until I finally start to shift out of this state. The heaviness of apathy is like a massive block of ice which slowly begins to melt and with its melting I slowly start to feel when emotions, good and bad alike, come flooding back. Luckily, it’s the not sadness that drives up with apathy’s exit and allows me to consider what I have just gone through and thus write about it.
Though it’s passed for now, I know apathy will return. It’s now an identified visitor to the recesses of my mind which knowingly has an equally striking effect on me as the sadness and not sadness, but had until recently, managed to delve under the radar. I’m not sure if I’m glad to know of its existence or not: on one hand I ought to know my enemies to better guard myself against them, but on the other hand what good is knowing your enemy if you are powerless against it?