I am bipolar. I have experienced the racing, high-energy, euphoric moods of mania as well as the dark, hopeless, deadly moods of depression. I experienced my deepest depression when I was a freshman in college and it almost killed me. I remember every day I was trapped in the bottom of that pit.
When I woke up, I didn’t want to get out of bed. I felt as though I were lying in my coffin and waiting for the dirt to be poured over me. When it never came, I decided I had an obligation to my parents to get up and go to class. I got up and got dressed, only to find I really didn’t have the energy to get up and go out after all. I hadn’t died overnight, so now I needed to take care of my death myself. I walked around with a large hunting knife, scaring the people who shared my dorm with how carelessly I handled it. Their fear made me smile. Now they understood what I understood and believed. That knife could kill me.
When I did finally go out, everything was gray. Sounds were muffled and it was like I was in a bubble, completely separated from the world around me. People didn’t want to be near me. Colors were no longer brilliant and the sun was no longer bright. I ducked my head into my jacket to hide the tears that began to fall involuntarily. Everything reminded me of how lost I was. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I would never fit in. When I died, that would all change. I would just wait until I got back to the dorm so no one could stop me; so no one could save me.
Later that night, I sat on the edge of my bed and twirled the knife in my hands. I wanted it to be quick because I didn’t want to have the chance to back out or to be found. I stared at the trunk across the room as I contemplated exactly how my blood would flow from the wound the knife would produce. The trunk was tied to my state of mind somehow. I couldn’t place it immediately, but I felt the emotion intensify the longer I stared at it.
Pretty soon, the trunk was the cause of everything. I got up and plunged the knife through the lid. Emotion and heat rushed through my body. I kicked, stabbed, beat, and shredded the trunk until it was a big heap of splinters. Then I cried. The sadness broke loose like an avalanche inside me and I sobbed so heavily it made me vomit. Then it started over again. I finally lay in my bed, trying to be quiet, but failing. My pillow was soaked with my tears and my abdomen burned from heaving. I couldn’t move. I looked at the knife across the room. I couldn’t reach it. Tomorrow I would have the strength. Tomorrow I would clean up the mess from the trunk and be strong enough to escape this pain. Tomorrow I would die. Calm washed over me and I fell asleep.
That’s what it is like to experience depression.