I’m Depressed

There. I’ve said it. It’s not the first time. But I don’t want to say it again.

I’m depressed.

Not your milennial kind. Sitting at a cafe, rolling my eyes at the girl I don’t like and complaining about singledom, “Ohmygod! I’m so depressed!” No. Not that kind.

The real one. The emotional kind that people tend to treat lightly because they don’t understand how serious it can possibly be. So, welcome to my world.

I’m not an actress. My life isn’t a Bollywood movie. I’m not sitting by the window, staring into space and nothingness. I don’t have a single tear running down my face as I lose sight of what’s happening around me. I’m not snapped back to reality. A hug isn’t going to heal me. A boyfriend cannot fix me.

This is real.

I’m right beside you. I’m not in hiding. I’m everywhere I need to be. I’m talking to you when you’re talking to me. I sound like I do everyday but I care a lot less. You just can’t tell. I show up to the event, dressed like a dream. You can’t tell it took me effort to put it all on. Not physical. Emotional. To get out of bed and prepare myself to smile with a world I can’t connect to anymore.

I can’t tell you I’d rather be at home. Not listening to you talk about problems that don’t affect me and having to give you comforting advice when I can’t even think. I can’t tell you I’m two seconds away from breaking apart even when I seem to be laughing.

You help me. Sitting across the table, as a best friend. You help me. Knocking on my door for a small conversation. You help me. A distraction for a few seconds. But you can’t take it away.

I want to confide. To tell you how I spiral. To tell you how this is all too much. I think I’ve taken on more than I can chew. My overthinking has taken me by my hand and led me back to my dark place. I was depressed a few years ago. I think it’s back for me. Or maybe it never stopped at all.

I wake up every morning. I walk out the door, that takes a lot of effort. I look through my checklist, ticking off things that pay my bills. I eat my lunch to Netflix. I come back home, turn the lights on, find my corner of the bed and suddenly I’m lost. I switch between streaming platforms. I grab my phone and get on Instagram. There’s nothing to watch. Nobody to see. I don’t care about any of it. But I have to. Because if I’m not watching Mike Ross fight with Harvey Specter or Lorelai and Rory Gilmore fast talk their way through Luke’s coffee, I’d want to slam my head against the wall, crying.

I ask myself everyday. Is it the end of my relationship? Is it the amount of work? Is it the personal woes? The inability to give back to the people who gave me everything? Is it the drowning debt? My answer is the same every time. No.

Someone once asked me what depression feels like. “Is it a state of mind? Can’t you change your state of mind?” I tried to tell her.

It’s like an empty room that hasn’t been lived in for decades. It’s hollow, your voice echoes multifold. So your worries echo multifold. It’s dirty, not the sexy kind. It’s broken windows and rusty doors. It’s haunting without the ghosts. It’s a feeling of sinking. Like something bad is always going to happen. But it’s not. You know it’s not. Yet you feel like it just did. You feel like you’ve lost. Maybe it’s the loss of life in that room. Or the loss of happiness. The loss of light. It’s a dark room. Maybe there’s light. All it takes is the flick of a switch. But you’re stuck. You can’t get up and turn it on.

She asked me why. I didn’t have an answer.

My depression doesn’t need a reason to cling on to. My emotions don’t have to explain themselves for sinking again. I can’t write down why I’m not okay. But it’s the truth. I’m not okay.

How do you ask for help when you don’t know what you need help with? What do I say?

“Hey, I’m depressed. I don’t know why. I don’t know the fix. But help me?”

What do they go on with? What solution do they give to a problem I can’t describe?

So I try what I always have. To smile. Maybe if I smile enough, the happiness will become real. I try to giggle. Perhaps the silliness will help lighten up my heart. I try to create. Art helped me once, so it should again? I try to live. But as I sat there at that boardwalk, staring at fireworks, my sister turned to me, “Are you crying?”

I had to say no because I didn’t want to explain myself. But the truth was… Yes. The fireworks made me cry. I don’t know why. They always make me happy. And I was happy. But something within me made me cry. Because I wasn’t really happy.

How do you explain that?

Things that bring me an abundance of joy cannot lift me out of this dark hole I find myself stuck in over and over again. Maybe we’re all depressed and we just don’t admit it to each other. Maybe as you’re reading this, you’re relating. But you can’t tell anyone either because when they ask, “Your life is amazing. What do you have to be depressed about?” what do you say?

What do I say?

So I shrug my shoulders, look down in guilt and swallow my tears. I look at them, a lump in my throat and softly say,

“I’m not okay.”

 

Advertisements

Young & In Love

I remember being young. Excited for the future. A little immature. Naive, not innocent. I met a boy. He was cute as a button. Special in his own way. We were different like night and day. He was obnoxious, so sure of himself. Sarcasm came to him like it was art and he was Picasso. I couldn’t stand the sight of him. Or bear to hear the words he would utter.

But I was lonely, he kind of liked me. He asked. I said yes. Three rules were laid out.

  1. We don’t tell anyone.
  2. When this ends, we stay friends.
  3. This will end.

And so we began.

I knew where I was going. I had plans, back-up plans and back-up for my back-up plans. I had a vision of who I was and who I wanted to be. He had love and a comfortable dream. I wanted no part in it. 8 months and we’re done,  I told myself on our first date.

Who was I kidding?!

They say you don’t always know the moment you fall in love with someone. I do. I know the moment my heart leapt out of me, into his hands to do as he pleased. On the phone with him, he said to me, “I don’t care what the situation is, you’ll never be alone. I’ll always stand by you.” I knew I wanted that in my life.

And just like that, 8 months turned 9 and I couldn’t imagine waking up to a world where he wasn’t with me. We couldn’t tell anyone but every part of me was dying to. I wanted everyone to know how much I loved him, how much he loved me, how amazing he was and that his love was only for me.

We hit one year and I couldn’t believe my ears. I was so excited. We shopped, went for lunch and celebrated us. But the back of my mind was beginning to nag. I was young but not young enough to ignore the facts. If this didn’t have a future, I had to be honest with myself and step back. I’d look at him, ready to ask the question and I’d stop. No. I can’t lose him to my need for permanence. We’re happy as we are.

The battle went on until the conversation was finally had, spread over six months of back and forth, sharing thoughts, ideas and passions. Sharing our vision of what marriage means to us, what it looks like in our minds and the other’s role in it. We disagreed time and again. We almost broke up over and over again. Until, finally, one day, I sat next to him. We knew there were differences – kids, lifestyle, career – we wanted so many different things. But when we looked at each other, our hearts knew, “I love you too much to let you go.”

The decision was made. I wish we’d waited.

I loved him, I still do. But life caught up. I grew up in uncertainty, unsure where life would take me. My obsessive planning was born the first time I didn’t know what the future held. Uncertainty scares me. His life was filled with them. I never thought about it until suddenly I did. And then I couldn’t let it go. It was an adventure I didn’t want to be in.

How do you choose between the love of your life and the feeling of security? How do you feel safe in someone’s arms yet afraid in his world?

I did. And like all things negative, the fear grew larger and more prominent in my mind until it took over every conversation, every argument, every joke, every look and every minute of our relationship. I began to compare. Not with the living but with the imaginary. The vision of the future I wanted versus the one I was being offered. “Life is filled with uncertainty,” I was told on repeat. But that’s why you have plans. You have destinations. You have back-up plans, my mind would scream. Sometimes, I would scream.

The fights grew bigger, the shouting louder, the words more hurtful. Sometimes, I’d remember the moments we spent too in love to give a fuck about anything else. Sometimes, I’d remember my parents in heated arguments, afraid I was following their precedent. Are we just like them?

We pushed, pulled and lost our minds in the swinging emotions that were mostly mine. I wanted him as much as I wanted to know every little part of my life.

The longing I had for the world to know made me feel trapped with the eyes that were now watching. The people I wanted to gasp with jealousy were now running their mouth with opinions I didn’t want to hear.

He stood his ground, “I want you. It’s really that simple to me.” I couldn’t relate. Instead, I had pain. I had fears. I felt lost in a relationship that had once made me feel like I belonged. And it was so easy…

It was so easy to pretend like it didn’t matter. To turn off my fears when I heard his voice. His laughter brought with it that comfort, his words made me feel loved. His arms… they felt like home. But then I’d leave to come back to my real one, the home that’s made of walls and cement and reality would stare at me, questions burning my brain, anxiety waiting to spiral.

My heart would sink with me as I was stuck in the rut I forgot about when he was standing next to me. And the circle will start all over again.

How do you choose?

How do you choose between the comfort of his arms and the comfort of your mind? Between feeling at home and feeling secure?

How do you choose between the love of your life and yourself?

I chose myself.

I don’t know if I’ll wake up one morning and hate myself for this. I don’t know if I’ll ever find someone that loves me and makes me feel the way he did.  But today, in this moment, I believe I did what I had to for myself. There are people who get it and ones who don’t.

But I wake up every morning and tell myself, “It only has to make sense to you.” Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t.

That’s just something I have to live with.

 

Alone

photo-1465064154639-bc188708a175.jpeg

It’s a sunny Sunday afternoon here in Singapore. I’m sitting on my bed, waiting for my nails to dry. The third movie of the day just ended and the feeling hit me again. The one where I can feel the emptiness within. It’s like a tiny prick that begins the moment my heart starts racing with anxiety. My heart starts racing the second my distraction ends and I don’t know what to do with myself.

I don’t know how to be alone.

I’ve struggled since I was a kid. Even if I’m by myself, I needed to be surrounded by people. I needed everyone else’s existence to keep mine calm and sane. I’ve annoyed friends and family time and again, taking advantage of their niceness to keep them by my side. I never needed them to talk to me or pay attention to me. Just to be within my line of vision, let me know they’re here.

When I was a teenager, friends were abundant. Never a moment alone, I began to crave it. I wanted the silence of my room, the coziness of a book or the melody of my favorite song. I didn’t enjoy people. I hated the company. In a Myers-Briggs test, I was an introvert – stereotypically so.

But then I hit 20. I developed depression, again. The loneliness that came from being alone was like an icepick being driven deep into my heart. I needed more than just a human in the room. I needed conversation, warmth, attention. I needed to be acknowledged and loved every minute of the day. I dreaded going to the bathroom because I’m in an empty space by myself and the anxiety would drive me insane.

Then came the incredible 23. I met a boy, cute as a button. Loving, affectionate and never stopped paying attention. I’ve been in love with him for almost 3 years now. Every waking minute I’m not busy, I was communicating with him. We mastered long distance. I didn’t need him in the same room. Just his voice, his texts, him. He became my best friend, my partner in the literal sense of it.

But life always happens. Between us, I happened. And because of me, space happened. So, here I am, on a Sunday afternoon, all alone and I don’t know what to do with myself. We sometimes spend so much time in a relationship, we forget what we did before we met them. I’m sure I had empty days quite like this but I can’t remember them. I don’t know who I was before I met him. What did I do? What was my distraction? Who did I talk to?

I fidget. I continue to fidget. I can feel the anxiety build within me and I don’t know how to get through it.

Am I hurting because I’m without him or am I anxious because I’m alone?

So many people do it. In and out of relationships. Sometimes, just alone. They’re occupied. Their brains don’t crash at the idea of coming back to an empty house – and I have flatmates. I have a roommate who sits outside the entire day. But she travels and I come back to an empty room. I won’t have him to talk to. To fill my silence. How will I survive?

How do they? Do they all feel this way?

Is it something you learn to live with?

Does the silence drive you insane like it does me?

Does it make you cry with memories from as far behind as 20 years ago?

Does it make you miss the place that feels like home?

Does it make you miss the voice that gave you joy?

The arms that kept you warm?

Or do you feel nothing at all?

Do you just walk in, drop your keys, pull off your shoes and settle in? No sound but your own footsteps. Your breathing. The distant kid’s screeching laughter.

Do you ever put earphones on?

Do you ever turn to the door wishing someone would walk in?

I sit here sometimes. I have a huge window to my left that’s always shut, the curtains drawn. But I still hear the world go by. Honking cars, screaming kids, music from the apartment above. I hear my flatmate laughing with his girlfriend. The laundry tumbling in the washer.

And I realize the silence that surrounds me that I can now hear things that don’t involve me. It makes me feel more alone. More anxious. More lonely.

I put my earphones on. The happy songs remind me of my good days with him. It reminds me they’re possibly behind us. The sad songs remind me of the choice I’ve made. It is a hint of a future that I have to re-learn to live in.

Every lyric I hear, every joke I laugh at, every scene I watch continues to build slowly, step by step. I can feel it within me. Anxious.

Anxious that it’s so great. Anxious that it’ll end. Anxious that the end will mean a few minutes of quiet before the next one begins.

Anxious of the thoughts that come with the quiet.

Anxious of the memories I don’t want to re-live.

Anxious of the silence.

Anxious of the sounds.

Anxious of the world.

The never-ending reminders.

Anxious that in a world filled with people, here I am.

In this little concrete block that I slave my life away for.

Surrounded by the things that often bring me joy.

Anxious of being alone.

Alone.

I Feel Alive

photo-1467103789230-f91a5ff8048a.jpeg

I’m drawn to pain. I’ve known this forever.

I say this often and people always underestimate how it runs and how real it is.

I’m always the one on the phone listening to everyone’s most depressing sentences. I’m the one my friends come to when they need to cry, when they need to vent or when they need to complain. And I absorb it. For someone who doesn’t know how to care for a human being, I’m always the one listening, ready to comfort.

Lately, I’ve been asking myself why.

Have you seen Eminem ft. Ed Sheeran’s River? The actual video is a flipping nightmare when you look at it in the sense of a relationship. But I’m so drawn to it. I find myself watching the video and listening to the video instead of just the song because I don’t want to just hear the song. I want to hear him say hurtful things to her. I want to hear them fight. And I find comfort in the pain that it gives me.

It’s similar to Love the Way You Lie. When they constantly push each other against walls but they also are attracted to each other and this destructive cycle continues until the house finally burns down and I thought to myself, “My God. That relationship. Wow.”

I fight with him all the time. I don’t intend to start fights and most of the time, I am trying to stop them. But in a way, when I look back at them, I realize how easy it was for me to escalate something insignificant into something so big.  How hurtful words rolled off my tongue like I was asking for an extra shot of espresso. How I did anything I could to ensure he would say the things he’ll regret because it hurts me. But I wanted to hear them.

I remember a phase a few months ago. It was a bad one. We were fighting like the world was crumbling around us. I woke up every morning, exhausted. My fingers would itch to text him an apology but instead, it would build up. I’d begin with, “I’m sorry. But you know what happens…” The text would end with, “But you’re an asshole. It’s your fucking fault.”

In a way, I was the sanest during that time. The constant pain in my chest was a comfort. And there was so much pain. I was hurting emotionally to a point where I could physically feel the pain. But it was perfect.

You know how you dream of a future?

I do, too.

I sit in a room, drink my coffee and imagine a world where I’m finally successful. I’m in the perfect career, look absolutely gorgeous and in love with a man that’s amazing. But we’re not just in love. We’re in love in a way that makes us extremely vulnerable around each other. Like I could drop dead with a heart attack if he said one word wrong because that’s how toxic and unhealthy that relationship was. But it was powerful. Because we were in that relationship knowing we had the power to destroy the other with one word but loved each other so much that we’d never say it. It was like walking at the edge of a cliff. You could fall to your death or on land and live. It was filled with adrenaline. And the idea of that relationship felt so surreal and incredible.

The problem is – my needs don’t match my reactions in reality.

I’m someone that will put up with a lot. But when my boyfriend said something that hurt me deeply, I didn’t run towards him. I didn’t say, “More please.” I took a step back. I called less. I spoke less. I hated him with a passion because he’d hurt me and it wasn’t okay.

And I told myself, “Maybe I’m over it. Maybe I’m not that person anymore. Maybe I’m not drawn to pain.” But every time we fight, every argument we ever have, I want more. Like an addict who found the best version of a drug, I can’t stop until it’s all done and I’ve finally heard it and felt it. Then I stop and breathe. Then I go, “Cool. Now we can fix this.”

Are you like that?

We sit together as a family. I find myself disconnecting. Like an outsider looking in. The happiness that they feel doesn’t exist in me. I’m laughing with them while thinking to myself, “Fuck. This feels so fake.”

But when they’re screaming…

When we’re all screaming… it’s so bloody painful. But I’m in that moment. I’m not detached from my reality. I’m present and alive.

I live everyday believing he and I will break up someday. I love him. The idea of a world without him scares me to death. But I think of it everyday. I think of why it’ll happen – because I’d choose to end it, of course. I think of that conversation. The panic and the pain set in and I pick up my phone and text him how much I love him. He writes back and I smile with a little blush.

The back of my mind goes, “Imagine a day when that doesn’t happen…”

And I’m alive again.

“My wife”

photo-1523523262500-ec13396518c6.jpeg“We talked about this. We decided. And you want to go back and revisit all our conversations?”

We stared at each other, my hands itching to fidget. He thinks I’m doing it on purpose. I’m going back and altering everything I agreed to, everything we shook hands on. I’m changing my mind and it’s not fair! But I didn’t know how to explain it to him.

“I stood in a room today. I saw two women. One who chose herself. She chose to be independent. She walked away from her marriage, choosing herself and her emotions above it. She’s lonely, of course. I see it in her eyes. But there’s also clarity. There’s a sense of satisfaction and she knows her life is her own. Opposite her sat another. A woman dependent since the day she was born and will be until she dies. On her parents, on her brothers, on her husband. Romance or rage, she had nowhere to run. She was always at the mercy of another. Her tears could not turn into motivation. Her intelligence never became her strength. And she exists. By reflex, not with excitement. She survives because her mind knows the routine. She’s not throwing her head back and laughing. She’s not stating her opinions with courage. She’s not living. She exists.

I’m the daughter of the latter. And in that weird way that science seems to work, I am almost exactly like her. I am weak where I know I can be strong. I am dependent with a need to break free from it. I am a reflection of who she is, constantly desiring to be different. And in some ways I am different. I’ve found my voice. But it’s not loud enough.

When we spoke about marriage, when we discussed the rules, I could see it. I could see you and me. A wonderful man and a woman in love. But then we established it. It’s going to happen. It’s reality. And suddenly, it wasn’t so clear. I was so confused. Not about us but about me. About my identity. So, let’s say we do it. We get married. Then what happens to me?

The woman by your side, you grin and introduce, “Oh! Have you met my wife?” ?

Is that who I become? I become your wife?

I worked so hard. I studied when I didn’t feel like it. I crammed when everyone around me partied. I worked 16 hour days to ensure I’ll be noticed as me. For what? To become someone’s ‘wife’? If that’s not it, then who am I?

You come to tell me about this big new thing you’re doing. I smile as I process how I feel about it. If I tell you I hate it and you listen, I become boss. If I tell you I hate it and you ignore it, I become irrelevant. So which one am I? How many times in my life will I have to ask myself this question? How many times will you disagree with me? On how many things?

Why didn’t I ever ask you that? Why didn’t I ask you what happens when we disagree on your life choices? Why didn’t I acknowledge how selfish it sounds when I say I don’t want your opinions on mine? That I want the freedom to make my choices and live my life outside of you and our little family, even when I’m 60 because I need to always remind myself that I am still an individual outside of your existence? But who lives like that? Who lives like they’re single and married at the same time? Who raises a family by showering them with absence? I won’t. I’m not that mother. I won’t leave my children with nannies. Never. But that leaves me tied to them. Every day for the rest of my life. A mother. A wife. Is that it? Is that my life?

It is so many other women’s. And that’s great for them. But I want more. I’ve always wanted more. I want to be that woman who stands there, smiling, her feet planted to the ground, her head held high for her accomplishments outside her family. I want to feel success. My success. Outside of us. To live a life that’s big. To walk into a room and not have to be introduced. And I want that for myself every moment for as long as I live. But is that okay?

They said you’ll be stubborn. I knew you were. My father is, too. A man who believes he can never be wrong. I see that in you. I see so many other things about him in you. In that creepy way they say a woman’s choice of husband almost always bears resemblance to the first man she knew. But that’s the scary part. If I am my mother and you are him, will our be marriage be theirs?

Will you be the man and I’ll just be there? Why didn’t we talk about that? Why was that never a conversation?

So I come up with alternatives that will never work. “We should live together,” like it’s a possibility without risking being disowned. But isn’t that the same? I’m still in a house. I’m still with you. I’m still making plans that revolve around us. So where’s me in all of that?

Who am I? As you wrap your arm around my waist and smile politely, will you say, “Meet the author, writer, artist and a human being with her own amazing life?”

Or pull me close, smile so gentle and go, “Have you met my wife?”

 

Dear Chennai Super Kings

chennai-super-kings.jpg

We have a problem. A real one. People think the ones sitting at home, wanting to watch the match and hoping the match goes on don’t get it. But we do.

There are people in my state who spent their year’s earning on new crops. The money will go to waste if they can’t harvest it and while the banks may give hundreds of crores to someone who can leave the country, our farmers can’t get bank loans as easily. So they need the water. And they need it NOW.

But problems like these are the reason why we elect our government. You have to understand that the government now ruling my state wasn’t elected by us. The woman we elected has passed away and the current party is incapable of handling a situation even though the warning signs showed up three days ahead.

What so many have forgotten is, those elected or unelected officials sitting in ruling positions aren’t named Dhoni, Bravo, Billings or Jadeja. You are cricket players. You play for our country. You stay away from your family, or even worse, have them travel the world with you while you represent us. And during the IPL season, you come closer to home because you represent US. My city. My home. We have waited two years to see you back in the yellow jerseys. You did not deserve to be treated that way.

I can tell you a hundred other ways they could’ve handled this. They could’ve even showed up at the stadium with banners that held their protests while still cheering you on. They could’ve peacefully protested while letting you get on the bus and go to Chepauk with pride that CSK is back! As a marketer, I can think of a lot of things that they could’ve done instead.

But as a human being, I’m sorry.

I say ‘they’ because I hope you know, the man who threw a shoe at Jadeja doesn’t represent who this city is.

The people who tried to run behind your bus aren’t who we Chennai-ites are.

We’re warm. We welcome everyone from anywhere with open arms to create their homes here. We’re the city that rolls up their pants and says, “Let’s make our home liveable again,” when disaster strikes. We’re loving to a fault.

And I’m sure you know this, but I hope the 10th of April hasn’t taken away the memories we, you and my city, have created together for years. Thank you for still winning that match and not letting the hooligans get to you.

The people who rallied against you don’t represent us. I can tell you who they represent but what’s the point?!

I don’t know how you feel about the matches being moved to Pune. I feel bittersweet. You deserved a better homecoming. I’m sorry we couldn’t give it to you. I’m happy they can’t use you for their political gains anymore.

I hope you still want to come back next year. I hope when you think of us, you think of the ones who got so excited for you to be back. The ones with IPL schedules written in yellow stuck to the back of their closet doors. The ones who showed up to that stadium, knowing they could be hit at any given moment because they wanted to show you their support.

I hope, when you think of us, you remember the Chennai that loves you.

Because we do.

Memories

photo-1512580194662-91363a474d24.jpg

Who do you remember when you think of me?

Do you remember the girl who laughed with her head thrown back? The one who looked at you from the space between her fingers as she covered her blushing face? The one who pressed her nose to yours and scrunched her forehead?

Do you remember the girl who couldn’t share food? The one who needs that extra spoon of sugar? The one who can never eat enough?

Do you remember the girl who’d hug you at random? The one who’d hold your hand until the door opened? The one whose face lit up when you walked in?

Do you remember the girl insanely in love with you? Or the mess, sitting on the floor, head between my knees, sobbing uncontrollably?

Do you remember me at all?

Because I remember you.

When we talk about coffee, I remember your jokes about decaf.

When someone says movies, I remember the ones we watched.

When I pick up my first book, I remember your words.

When “Spiderman” plays on TV, I remember that little boy you healed.

When I read the word love, I remember how you said it to me.

How you showed it to me. Every minute of every day. And I smile wide. Until suddenly, I don’t.

Because I remember when you stopped.

I remember when your hand made my face hurt, not happy.

I remember when your words brought pain, not peace.

I remember when I was afraid of you, not in awe.

And I remember when we became you and me.

It all comes flooding to me. Like it was only yesterday. Like you have just walked away.

And I have to remind myself that in the end, I’m okay.

That I have no reason to cry.

That the pain need not exist anymore.

But that’s the problem with all the things we wish we’d forget.

Their reality hurt once.

Their memories haunt forever.

 

_____________________________________________________________________________

Inspired by Kavipriya Moorthy’s “How do I look like in your memories?”