The Thundering Silence

Inside The Mind of Depression.

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Silence… so fierce, you can actually feel it.  So loud, you feel the earth shake beneath you and you duck and cover your ears.  It’s so thick and heavy, it actually touches you and surrounds you, yet, you couldn’t grab it if you tried.   It’s like being inside of a cave miles inside the earth…all alone.  You can see nothing but blackness despite blinking over and over again; and every sound you make is magnified and reverberating around you.  If you sit perfectly still, you can almost feel it moving inside your lungs like smoke, as you breathe in and out, it’s so heavy.  You are aware of your own heart beating inside your head, your eardrums making that little clicking noise as it goes.  You begin to gauge your breath, and since you have sinus arrhythmia, you can actually make your heart stop, for just one fleeting moment, by holding your breath.  In that brief moment, as the hot tears sting your cheeks and your nose begins to drip; you wish you could make it permanent.   Then the loud thumps slowly return to their normal rhythm and insist you have no power over them.  They are independent of you and will do as they wish, whether you like it or not.  Holding your breath is child’s play.  Even if you can make your heart stop for just a few seconds; your heart will always beat again.  And there is nothing you can do about it.  Not if you are a chicken, like me.

So, you listen for God in each beat, hoping he will give you answers to questions you have asked a million times. Surely he is there in the blood.  The Bible says the life is in the blood.  It also says he is the life.  Or maybe the heart itself, that refuses to stop beating. Maybe this time he will speak to you.  Maybe you just weren’t listening loud enough.  Maybe you just missed it, like a phone call you ran in the house to catch when you were a kid:  only it stopped ringing the moment you picked it up and the line was dead.  Just a loud buzzing in your ear is all that’s left, because whoever called is gone.  And you can’t even be sure who called.  That’s what it sounds like.  That’s what it feels like.  So, you embrace the buzzing silence, and listen as hard as you can.  You squint your eyes real tight and you listen from deep in your soul…and…nothing.

I much prefer the silence these days, which to my dismay, makes things difficult when you have to be around people who can’t handle the “awkward silence” and just won’t shut up.   For me, it’s not uncomfortable at all.  What’s uncomfortable is the gal in the car next to me I am stuck riding with because of a work project- who does not get the hint that I have no desire to have a conversation with her.  She doesn’t realize I see right through her.  Her fear that I don’t like her…that most people actually don’t.   She doesn’t realize that as she gossips, I am making sure I give her no ammunition to use against me later.   Not consciously, anyway.  All she knows is I am rather tight lipped with her.  That’s the reason she squirms.    It’s not that I don’t like her.  I just don’t like her.

I don’t fear the sea of silence and drowning in it’s darkness any longer.  I need it to think.  To sort things out, & to understand the winds and the sails that take me through the torrential waves.   I no longer fear those demons and ghost that would terrorize me day and night.  No, I have banished them into the dungeons of hell where they belong.   Yet more keep coming.  I have learned to always keep my sword sharp, because the battle may never  end.

I think it’s only in facing them alone and surviving it that you realize just what a warrior you are.   Yet, the demons tell us we are too weak and no match for them.  Such liars, they are.  They lie because they are afraid of us., but they are very skilled at their craft.  They can trick you into believing them if you aren’t careful.

Pink! has a line in her song “Sober” that goes, “I don’t wanna be the girl that has to fill the silence.  The quiet scares me ’cause it screams the truth.”    The first time I heard this song I fell in love with it and with that particular phrase.  Because, at last, I knew there was someone else out there like me, who didn’t need to fill the silence with mindless babble just to make noise.  Someone who understood what the fear of silence was about and her desire to be a warrior too.   Or was it the other way around?  She WAS that girl, but didn’t want to be?

Didn’t matter.  I did not have a problem with silence.  And, in fact, am often annoyed by mindless chatter about nothing just to fill the void or stave off inevitable truths. I had learned to deal with my own truths.  As ugly and painful as they could be, I was facing them one by one and doing my best to either make peace and live amicably with them, or be rid of them altogether.

Silence no longer has any power over me, and I am not afraid.  AT ALL.  I already know it doesn’t mean anything.  It’s just silence…and while it can be a frightening place, it can also be a beautiful place…once you actually get past the noise and darkness.  I learned to carry a torch and find my way around it.  I took an enemy and made it my friend.  I embrace it.

But I have had years of practice.   I started fighting demons in the third or fourth grade.  I was nine or ten years old and not so much depressed, as just feeling afraid all of the time.  Being the good charismatic Christians they were, my parents chalked it up to demon possession. I think I would have preferred mentally touched over that, but neither option is a label someone wants to wear.  Especially at such an early age.  I only knew I felt fear all the time, even during the day, and the nightmares were horrible.

Could it be that a father should not bring The Exorcist home on video to watch and expect a 9 or 10 year old to stay in her room?  I’m just wondering…I refuse to watch a scary movie to this day, or the nightmares will return.

By the time I started Junior High, I was chronically depressed.  I had broken up with a serious boyfriend I should have never had a year before and my parents wanted me to get back together with him.  Plus he lived next door and was always gawking at me creepy like…eww.   My dad was not letting me date anyone or do anything fun, I felt like I had no friends any longer.  Starting high school had been such a challenge and things had changed rapidly and radically.  I simply was ill equipped to deal with my life.

I remember not wanting to get out of bed and taking a thermometer and setting it on the heat register until the mercury rose up over a hundred.  They I would shake it down to about 101 or so and show it to my mom.

“I feel sick and I have a fever.”  I would say holding it out for her to see.  Then I could just go back to bed and sleep.  It was all I wanted to do. Every little thing was such a chore and seemed to drain a tremendous amount of energy.

I missed so much school it was nearly impossible to stay caught up.  That didn’t help.  The doctor decided I had mono or a mono type virus, though at that time there was really no way to tell.  It was just a guess.  Doctors do that, ya know.  Guess.   They are PRACTICING medicine.  Anyway, the idea of me having a bout of depression just wasn’t even considered.

Silence is the price you pay for not welcoming just anyone into your life…for being safe.  It is also a reward.  By all rights, I am a loner.  I could be a perfect spy if I were actually smarter.  I wonder if anyone would even miss me, sometimes.  You know, the so called friends who never call; and I mean NEVER.  The knowing that you are all but invisible and not even thought of by those around you.  Then you start paying closer attention to the things people say (or don’t say) and find even more crap you didn’t really need to see that proved just how irrelevant you are to them.   It can be the simplest thing, too.  My therapist said I was “hyper vigilant” about some things.  I say I am just paying attention to what no one else does.

“They” also say that depression is a chemical imbalance in your brain.  It can be that your serotonin, or your dopamine, or your norepinephrine levels are off.  Maybe just one of them, two of them, or all three.  “They” don’t really know.  “They” also say that with each person, it’s different.  Excuses, excuses.

I personally think that depressed people just know on a cellular level just how evil and completely f*cked up this world we live in is.  Of course, everyone around us tells us it’s not and that life is grand…but deep down in the bile of their existence…depressed people know none of this shit we call life really even matters.  It’s as if the world has gone crazy, but they will never admit it, so they tell you that you’re crazy instead.  And here, let’s put you on all these meds while we’re at it; cuz let’s face it, we ain’t gonna look at the ugly monsters if we don’t have to.  It’s so much easier just to take a Prozac.

There’s a pill for everything now.  I mean, hell; they even come UP with crap they call an illness now so they can sell us a pill.

We self medicate with booze and now pot is becoming legal in more and more states-because people can’t freaking deal.  We look for distractions and ways around our pain, or to numb it, if only for a while.  Americans spend more money on Viagra than any other pill out there.  How freaking ridiculous is THAT?!  Just when you think the old perverts were finally going to have to leave you alone, they’re walking around with a perma-grin and a boner to match.

Sounds to me like just one more way to self medicate your miserable existence.  Sex, drugs, alcohol, food, anti-depressants.  What’s the diff?

Yes, I think depression is just that despair you feel in every cell of your body when you realize that pretty much no one cares and nothing is real or matters…or maybe it’s like Freud said, you’re just surrounded by assholes.   Take your pick.  Pick both!

Science proves more and more every day, that our life experiences and even what we think actually changes our brains and our bodies on a physical level.  What if depression is the other way around?  What if the bullshit we have to live with on a daily basis is what changes the chemical makeup in our brains?   What if all that energy being drained to continue to keep playing this game is what depletes our brains of the chemicals like Serotonin instead?  It’s kind of like the chicken and the egg question.  Does a person inherit depression?  Or do they learn it by living in the home with a depressed person, or being raised by one?  (Or two.)

When I was in my twenties, I tried what seems like ALL of the antidepressants out there.

So, yeah…  Antidepressants do not work.  The so called “experts” would lash out at me for saying that; but those pills pay part of their salaries, so…whatev.

Oh, I have a met a few people who have told me they felt they got some relief from this drug or that.  But most people I talk to, say it doesn’t help and have given up; just like me.  Others, they keep takin ’em anyway…never made any sense to me.  Well, they tell ya to. So, people do.

The whole process of antidepressants and finding something that works is depressing!  They say it can take over a month to start working, so  you wait a few months and they play with dosages until they decide it’s not working and they try another drug, or maybe combine two.  So, you wait, and you wait, and you wait to feel better.  And you know what?  You never do.  A year or two, or three down the road, and you STILL feel like crap.

But hey, maybe it will work for you.  I think everyone who struggles should at least try it.  If you can get relief that way, high five for you.  Seriously.  I think you should.

But truth be told, no one can every really say with 100% certainty what causes depression; and there are a lot of theories and cures for it out there.  Maybe it was just too many years of too many heartbreaks and disappointments.  Maybe depressed people are just too tender hearted for this cold, cold world.  Maybe we feel too deeply.  Maybe we’re just weak and can’t take life’s blows the way other people can…I think there is a lot of truth to the lies we believe about ourselves and the hateful self talk, but that’s just me.

I wonder about those things all the time.  The silence doesn’t scare me.  But it certainly gives me plenty of pause to wonder why I feel the way I do; why I believe what I do, and question why I am the way I am.

I also question God a lot.  And when things are really bad, I ask him why he seems to hate me so much.  I tell him that if he put me in this world just to be a door mat and a verbal punching bag (if not an actual physical one) for other people; then I quit.  I don’t want to be here if this is all life has to offer.  I remind him that I’m a pretty good person, for crying out loud, and I try to do what I think he wants me to.  I tell him that I don’t feel like I ask for much, and if he really loves me, why can’t he even give me the tiny bit I ask for?  Isn’t he supposed to be great?  Isn’t he supposed to be capable of anything?   Isn’t he supposed to love me beyond measure and want only good for me?  Didn’t he say that even as he knows when a sparrow falls from the sky, he also knows what is going on with me?  Then why am I stuck in this hell hole of a life?  What did I do wrong?  And why is he punishing me?  I just don’t understand it.

A lot of times I blame myself.  When you run into enough people who tell you everything is your fault, it’s easy to do.

Plus, when you are so caught up in your head and so used to going through everything alone, you forget to reach out even when you can.  Isolation is a common thing, and when I’m going through it, I will do just that.  I know I should reach out, but again, I assume no one will help me anyway, or that they are busy, and whatever else.  It’s a vicious cycle, really.

Word to the wise? If you are a friend or relative of a person who struggles with depression, you are being a blessing beyond measure to reach out to them and keep checking in with them.  By insisting they go along with you and with whatever you may be involved, they can’t isolate so much; and at least they have someone to talk to if they won’t get involved.  Keep asking.  Sometimes it takes more than gentle nudging.  This helps keep them out of their head too much.  There’s only so much seclusion a person can and should take.

I also worry a lot.   It’s hard not to do when every month is a struggle to pay bills…or you have a nasty co-worker who seems to hate you and you don’t even know why.  All I want to do is keep to myself, do my job, and go home.  How can someone hate me for that???   I haven’t figured it out yet, but trust me they do.  They must be depressed, too.

Sometimes, the thought of having to do it for another 30 years is simply more than I can bear.

I mean, honestly, how is anyone NOT depressed??!!!

For the most part, I have learned to manage my depression.  When you’ve had it come and go as often as I have, you get used to it.  I frankly wonder why I haven’t given it a name, and a face, and set out the dinner plate for it yet.  I have learned a few things that seem to really help, like journaling or exercise (which I really hate.)  But mostly I have learned to almost embrace it, as strange as that sounds.  It’s like that proverb, keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.  Scratch that.  That’s a horrible idea!  How exhausting!  But it is wise to know your enemy, and that means you may have to get down and dirty with it and spend some time with it.  I honestly think the best way to deal with depression is by doing this through writing, talking to friends, and finding a good therapist when it’s really tough to help you navigate through.  I honestlythink that you will never really see a victory over it until you start facing your demons head on.  So, get out your sword, baby.

We live in a country where you are not allowed to be sad.  People you don’t even know will tell you to smile because your straight face somehow makes them uncomfortable.  Never mind the fact that they just put their own crap on you.  But it’s demonstrative of the societal expectation that we as Americans, should be happy.  And why not?!?! We live in the greatest country in the world!  Right?  (Yeah, don’t get me started on that!)

I gave myself permission to be sad.  To be pissed off.  To need time alone to process things.  To want to be left the hell alone.  To be depressed!  Because I have learned that this too shall pass.  Usually the only way out is through.  So, leave me be,or talk me through it!  Most people don’t want to let you vent; more aptly called whine.  It’s such a downer ya know.  So, you’re back to isolation.

The circle is just so vicious…

These days, most of what I struggle with is wondering where God is.  Yet, I know he’s there.  I can see it everywhere.  Even when I sit in the darkness and strain to hear him and I am sure he refuses to speak to me, I know he’s there.  Even when I try to listen so hard I swear I could break a sweat in my ears, and he still doesn’t answer me; I know he’s there.  Because he promised me he would never leave me or forsake me.  It’s a promise, and he’s God; so that means he will keep said promise.

Though I may live in a world where everyone else will leave me, I have to believe that there is ONE THING, just ONE, in this world I can trust in- and that’s his promise.  And in those dark moments as I listen to my breath, and the silence swallows me up, it’s often the ONLY thing I have to hold onto.  Just that one, teeny tiny promise that I refuse to believe is just a myth.  That simple knowledge that at some point, he will show up.  It can be almost miniscule at times, my hope in him.

But it’s enough.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me…”

~From the 23rd Psalm

2 thoughts on “The Thundering Silence

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