I wake up. It’s day 10. Actually, it might be day 100. That tends to become a part of life very quickly – I start losing count of the days. Time simultaneously has no meaning (I’m neither sure of the day nor the week nor the month) and is my greatest foil (all I can think about is how much time I’m losing). It doesn’t matter really because I’m not planning on doing anything anyway. Day 10 or day 100, it’s pretty much the same – wake up, a combination of TV and eating for the next 12-16 hours, and then back to bed.

Depression is a real pain in the ass, you know? When I first start getting depressed, it’s a gradual change over a few days, and then suddenly the bottom falls out. Before it begins, I’m feeling good. Then one day I wake up and something feels wrong. It’s like a nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach, as if something bad is about to happen. The first couple of days it’s hard to get out of bed, but it’s still doable. Then something bad does happen, and suddenly, I’m attached to the bed.

As the days go by, the sadness and purposelessness increase, becoming deeper and all-consuming. It’s nearly impossible to force myself to be social, going from the occasional text response to none at all. That is one of the worst parts of depression – just when you need people the most, when you need support, you become incapable of reaching out. Every text is like a pin prick, because I read but can’t respond. And I can never be sure, but I’m pretty sure my friends are at the end of their ropes with me. When things got better last time, I promised I would try harder. And I meant it at the time, but unfortunately, my past and present selves aren’t quite the same.

Depression is often presented as a deep forlorn in popular media. That isn’t necessarily inaccurate, but it doesn’t quite tell the full story either, because every person’s experience is different. I have anxiety along with bipolar disorder, so in addition to feeling like either a depressed pauper or hypomanic prince, I tend to also feel mentally jittery all the time. My depression feels like death by a thousand anxieties, as worries keep popping up in my head – friends, family, work, hobbies. I feel guilty and shameful and embarrassed. I hate myself every moment. And every moment is pure agony.

The most fascinating (and maybe worst) part about depression is how time simultaneously seems to stand still and move at a breakneck pace. Every day feels like a slow, agonizing ride on Toronto transit, while the way the days accumulate is like riding a bullet train (you’ll trust me when I say Toronto transit is slow, we have the worst commute times in Canada AND the US).

Then suddenly, on day 101 (or is it 11?), I wake up and feel good. Suspiciously good. Last night and the night before and all the nights that came before that feel like a distant memory. I feel energized. I feel alive in a way I haven’t in a while. In fact, I’m wondering why I’m wasting my time sleeping right now when I could be out and about. I need to get on top of everything I’ve been missing out – I’m frantic as I run through those things in my head: family, friends, work, languages, fitness. I’m pacing through my apartment for hours at a time, virtually leaving imprints on the floor where I’ve been walking for literally hours at a time.

I’m still nervous – the Monster of depression is always lurking in the back of my mind. So, I get up as fast as I can and I’m on my way. Now is my time. Now is my time and I’ll be damned if I don’t make the most of it. Now is the time to do all the things I haven’t been able to do in a while. I want to talk to every friend and catch up with them and find out what’s going on with them. I want to socialize as much as possible, socialize like I’ve never socialized before. 

And I want to do a million different things. Learn a new programming language? Why not. Work on my Spanish? Absolutely. Read 3 books at once? Sign me up (it’s not my fault Stephen King is so damn good at writing). I need to do everything I can as fast as I can.  The first day flies by, and I’m so excited that I don’t have time for sleep. I mean that literally -that first night, I don’t sleep, because there’s way too much to be done. I’m feeling good, but I don’t take anything for granted – the Monster feels like it’s never too far behind.  I know for sure I’m hypomanic and that can end up being as disastrous as depression, but quite frankly, I don’t want to take my foot off the pedal, and I wouldn’t know how to even if I did.

So, I’m up all hours of the night working on 15 different things, trying to make each of them count or feeling like nothing is complete (and making so little progress that the latter is exactly what I’m accomplishing). And then the next day starts, and I wake up feeling good again. No Monster in sight.  And I’m wondering how 24 hours have already passed since I last woke up. I start the next day with the same desire and intensity: I want to be the most social person in the world, I want to be the most productive person in the world, I want to be the most alive person in the world.

As the days continue and the hypomania kicks into full gear, I might get a couple hours of sleep. In fact, for the next week or so, I’m going to be sleeping about 3 to 4 hours on average a night. The word average is important here, because many of those nights will literally be without sleep. And as the days progress, my excitement and energy grow.

It’s not all perfect if I’m being honest – the cracks start to appear about a week in. Along with being energized, I’ve been a little anxious this whole time. That anxiety manifests itself in different ways. The lack of sleep has gone from a feature to a bug. There are days when I need it so bad, and yet it won’t come. The hyper-socialization has become annoying too. I want to keep in touch, but I also feel overwhelmed by it. There is no middle ground for me – I live in the extremes, especially when it comes to keeping up with friends. Plus, the irritability has gotten out of control. I get into a shouting match with a friend, yelling at him for about 2 hours and making sure that he never gets to share his side of an issue that doesn’t even really exist. And then I go home and cry for a couple of hours because of the shame of what I’ve done. These kinds of episodes become more common, as does the crying.

And it feels like the Monster is catching up, so I try to double down on everything. I’m sleeping less than ever. I’m trying to bike several hours a day, trying to fit a year’s worth of fitness into a couple of days. I’m trying to write and write and write, get everything out of my head before it disappears (or until it becomes impossible to pick up my fingers and write again). I’m reaching out to even more people, trying to get in as many conversations and texts and calls as I can possibly muster. I can almost hear the footsteps and see his shadow creeping up behind me. But I’m not worried just yet because he still feels far away.

So that first day that I wake up and something feels wrong, I don’t stress about it. I’m just a bit burned out from how fast I’ve been running. It’s a bit harder to get out of bed, but so what? I need a little rest. And the next day I’m in bed a bit longer, and a bit longer the day after that.

Oh. Shit. The thing about the Monster is that he’s never really chasing you – he’s actually inside you all along, lying dormant and waiting for things to go wrong so he can take control again. All this time I thought I was running from him, but he’s been waiting patiently – and while I was looking over my shoulder, he took control. Day 4 or 40, it doesn’t really matter. The misery and hopelessness are back, and they get worst day by day. It’s too late to do anything, except ride out the storm and wait for that next day of sunshine I live in hope for that day when I wake up and feel good. The problem is that the Monster is never really gone, so there’s no reprieve. There is only the illusion of running and the reality of stopping. It’s only me, myself and my Monster.

4 thoughts on “The Monster”
  1. Thank you for sharing this! I know it will help so many people who relate to your experiences or have loved ones who do.

    1. Thank you so much Bushra. I really hope that will be the case. This is definitely one of those cases were the more we share, the more we help each other

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Discover more from The Worst of Me

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading