It’s 1:30AM. The middle of the night. That’s when the demons are their loudest. In my mind, they appear as a medieval stone relief, fanciful shapes from 13th century imaginations. The demons dance and mock me. They tell me my life has been a mistake. A waste. A lifelong masterbatory exercise with no purpose, meaning, or impact. They even quote scripture, from Ecclesiastes, “Meaningless! It’s all meaningless!”
In a sea of positive voices, I hear the lone dissenter. The demon telling me I’m not good enough. I don’t make the cut, past actions or attitudes irredeemable, future actions of no value. I am a stained garment that cannot be bleached clean.
Depression hears the dissenting voice. Sometimes it *is* the dissenting voice, a demon if its own. Either way, it tells me – all too effectively- I am nothing and as nothing, descending into the nothingness of death is not only a viable option, it is even desirable.
Demons come in all forms. To quote Kenny Chesney,
“Sometimes they’re in a bottle,
Sometimes in high heeled shoes….
When I’m not chasing demons,
there’s demons chasing me.”
I’ve spent most of my life dancing with or fighting my own demons. Insecurity taunts me, the idea that I am not good enough to be loved. I may choose to fight it with alcohol. Or I may choose to fight it by simply “proving” it wrong, if you catch my meaning.
The greatest demon I face is my depression. It’s the largest gargoyle on the cathedral. It is the great liar. It takes every good thing and tells me it was unearned. Depression takes every personal rejection and reminds me I am unloved and unlovable, incapable and undeserving.
I wish I didn’t have this damn disease. Of course, I recognize it now. I didn’t until i was 50. I am a late bloomer I guess. But it’s never too late to change your life and seek a new beginning. No treatment is perfect and while I have been generally well controlled, these past 3 months have been, in a word, “shit”. It’s affected my marriage (I’m not sure whether the dissolution came first, which made the depression worse or the severe depression caused the dissolution of the marriage. Doesn’t matter.)
Someone said the opposite of depression is not happiness, it’s vitality. It’s possible to be happy “in the moment” and be depressed as hell. Most people with depression can hide it very well. I am no different. I know it’s there, like a computer program running in the background. Every now and then it announces itself. “Hey moron. If people knew who you really were, no one would like you.” You ignore the voice for now, but keep coming back to it often enough it becomes almost hard wired.
It’s not possible to pray it away. It’s not possible to think it, wish it, screw it, drink it (lord, no), will it, or cry it away. It just laughs. It will come and go seemingly of its own volition, usually without warning and at the worst possible time. Sometimes it brings its BFF, anxiety, over for a visit and you’re outnumbered.
Medication helps fight the demons. They make it a much more even fight. But there are no magic bullets. Medication helps normalize neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. I’m still me. They just allow me to maintain me. Sometimes I feel great and truly alive. Others in a funk, unable or unwilling to move beyond a snail’s pace. Even so, there is no doubting the benefit of my meds. I’d like to be off them, but I doubt that will ever happen. Maybe I can get down to one?
The other thing that helps is music. Fast and loud, mostly; but also songs to make you cry and release the pent up emotions that we hide from others. Sometimes it’s AC/DC, others it’s Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain. Music moves the emotions in a way the demons can’t touch. It’s not magic, but it is the strongest weapon in the arsenal.
Fighting demons is a constant battle. It’s the original insurgent fight and long before Iraq, the battle against this insurgency was and is for the heart and mind. Losing is not an option. You hold at all costs.
“Some come rolled in paper,
Some have six strings and only play the Blues.
Once you’ve met the devil
There’s no way he’ll let you be.
When I’m not chasing demons,
There’s demons chasing me.”