“I want to run, I want to hide,
I want to tear down the walls, that hold me inside,
I want to reach out and touch the flame.” – U2
I feel small inside. Tiny, insignificant, and worthless. It isn’t often that I wish I wasn’t, but today I do. Today, I don’t want to exist.
There has been quite a bit to do, and it’s been good things. I’ve met with students, as well as a spiritual leader of sorts who is helping me discern choosing a church. I’ve had coffee, hot dogs, and root beer; three of my favorite things. All things told, it’s been a good day.
Yet, my chest feels empty. Not in a subjective, mental, somehow imagined way. It is as if when putting my hand on my chest it would go straight through, like there is nothing to me. Somehow my body has a response to depression of feeling like it shouldn’t exist, much like when we are nervous we have butterflies in our bellies. There is no good way to describe it other than a physical manifestation of the emotional turmoil within.
But, there’s not even emotional turmoil today. It’s been a good day.
I’m not a clinical psychologist, I have not studied the brain with great specialty, but I know my experience. People who tell me this is in my head are simply wrong. It’s in my chest, my belly, my shoulders, and my arms, but it isn’t in my head. In fact, my head feels normal. If anything, it seems like it started elsewhere and drove my thinking. Maybe it didn’t, maybe a thought pattern has been there for days slowly drawing me down, but I can’t tell the difference. The empty sensation in my chest reminds me of not existing, so I don’t want to exist.
Mostly, when this happens, I just curl up and ignore the world. There may be better options, but I don’t know them, and don’t care at the time. Mental health survival mode has kicked in, if I want to wake up tomorrow having not done something foolish like drinking, hurting myself or worse, I’m going to do anything that keeps me away from those things. I’m not sure that’s the best option, it probably isn’t, but it’s the better of what I have before me.
I shared the quote from U2’s song “Where the streets have no name” because it speaks to me. Have you ever been chained, or held down on your chest, and you can barely breath? Tearing down walls that hold me inside really speaks to the feeling of not being able to breath. Somehow, I have held myself inside of myself, and I’m suffocating myself, and none of it makes any sense, and I want to tear down what is doing that, but what is doing that is me.
I want to reach out and touch the flame, to feel the pain, to feel something, to feel anything other than the way my body feels right now. I don’t want to be like this, let me go where this won’t be any longer, where the streets have no name. Where no man claims anything, where all live for one. Heaven.
Its been said that everyone has a reason to be. That every person on the planet is here for a reason, and I’m fairly certain the person who said that didn’t mean eating, sleeping, and sexing. The Japanese have a word, Ikigai, which roughly translated is “the reason you get up in the morning.” It worries me to consider ikigai, many days I only get up because I physically can’t sleep all day. I might as well do something, and usually that something is required of me.
Depression doesn’t make sense, but it also does in a strange way. In some ways I’m in a hole, and in other ways I am the hole. If I fill the hole that I am in, that is, if I fill myself, I won’t be depressed. Ikigai, a reason to get up in the morning, fills you and moves you forward, and I honestly can’t say there is anything that does that for me. Sometimes I think depression keeps me from it, but other times I think lacking a reason to be keeps me in depression. It’s probably a “both, and” situation. Confusing, and also not.
I spent a month in Ecclesiastes, because Solomon wrestles with the reason for living, and the end of the matter is, in summery, “Fear God; eat, drink, be merry with friends and family.”
That’s not much of a branch in the torrent that is utter emptiness.
I wish I didn’t exist sometimes, and yet, I worry about having a long life. Why do I want a long life if today I don’t want to exist? What do I fear missing? What do I really want that I’m not admitting I want? What drive am I repressing? When asking those questions, it seems natural to move to, “Why am I depressing (repressing) myself?”
If there is one question I hate, it’s the “If you could do anything in the world, what would you do?” I’d make people stop asking that question because I’ve repressed all my wants and desires and I consider dreaming like that a waste of time. Besides, I’m way too afraid to chase a dream, so it’s better to not talk about them. If I shared those things with people they’d make me do them, and I don’t have the guts to do what I actually want to do.
And emptying myself of dreams, I find myself here, the empty feeling in my chest, and wishing I wasn’t.