The watercock is a solitary member of the rail and crake family. It keeps to itself for most of the day – only coming out in the open for feeding, and to attract mates. I have spotted it just once in the last five years. I was driving past the Annamalaicheri village in Thiruvallur, and I saw this majestic bird run through the bushes.
I felt good about it because I was not in a pleasant mood. Seeing a bird for the first time is always a joyous experience. It was a clash of the Titans. My yin versus my yang. Thankfully, the watercock won. I doubt if there was any unpleasantness that day after the sighting.
But, I have not always been this lucky.
I know that neither have you.
I understand why you are unable to fight your depression. You try and hide it because you cannot find its source. You fear judgment from others. You devalue it because you suspect they will do the same. Even the ones close to you. Especially, those you cherish. Because you do not want them to realize that you are hurting. What are you going to tell them anyway? That you feel weighed down by something that you cannot describe using human language? Maybe, if you hop up and down, point to your head, and make a sad face… No, that probably will not work either.
So you avoid thinking about it. But, it does not go away. It never does. It hangs over you, like storm clouds. When it starts to drizzle, your stomach churns – meat-grinding those butterflies into dust. You press your fingers against both sides of your scalp to assuage the dull quaking in-between. Deep down, though, you know. There is no escape. No crack in the wall through which you can squeeze yourself out. No hole in the ground you can fall through and disappear for a while. Anything to get away from this feeling. This, this, this fucking indiscernible pain.
Whether a lungful of air, an earful of music, a mouthful of kisses or a fistful of rage, it tracks you down and wraps itself around your deepest fears. Like invasive vines suffocating wildflowers, it sucks you dry of your elixirs.
Sometimes, you express it through art. Sketch after sketch, song after song, word after word – it keeps crumbling. No sooner you create it, you want to destroy it. Because it represents everything you want to let go of. But if it stares at you long enough – you will crumble too.
Other times, you change the order of chores you perform on a daily basis. You come up with new ones to pursue in hope that they may distract you from the ugly blank spaces. You take big decisions to change everything. A new house. A different job. A wild vacation. Somewhere you have never been to. A place where you can do things differently. When you return to the life you know, maybe you can see things differently too.
But, that first night back home – you are rudely awakened by a wave of nausea. Because you still feel the same way. No matter how hard you try, you are on the super highway to square one.
Of course, nobody else sees it that way. So why bother even thinking about it? There you are, without a home in your heart to house the suffering. There you sit, sharing inconsolable blinks with the headlights on strange vehicles whizzing past you.
Is there any end to it?
I really do not know. I barely understand it any more than you do. I am sure of one thing, though.
There is nothing fundamentally wrong with you. You do not have to be rebuilt to lead a happy and productive life. But, do not overlook the importance of maintenance and repair. It is why having a support system in place is essential. It is the safety net on which you take a leap in faith while discussing extremely personal issues – without fearing judgment. Talking to people about your depression is a great idea.
Exercise caution, though, about who you confide in.
Avoid the enablers, who take us along their downward spirals, while pursuing our own. Stay away from those whose egos prevent them from acting or listening – with kindness. Also, there is nothing worse than discussing your depression with a person who treats it like a figment of your imagination. It is akin to thwacking yourself in the head with a copy of Paulo Coelho’s ‘The Alchemist’ to cure a migraine.
You need a few good friends, who happen to be good listeners. You can describe the pain to them. Show them where it hurts. It does not matter whether they can comprehend what you are going through. You may find pieces of the puzzle by opening up to them.
Another way to deal with the depression is by going to a psychiatrist, a psychoanalyst or any such professional in that field. Choose one that has you convinced, in principle, about the practical applicability of what they offer. Go through a referral, if it helps you be mentally prepared for it.
In India, visiting a doctor for a non-physical ailment that has nothing to do with the reproduction cycle is considered to be taboo. I suspect that a large percentage of Indians, suffering from depression, are under the impression that seeking psychiatric treatment should be their last resort. They do not consider it as a socially-acceptable option.
I reckon that the problem is geography-agnostic. People, in general, seem to prefer to sweep their problems under the carpet.
It may be the reason why you feel defeated by it. Those ugly rolls on the carpets. They remind you that nothing is okay.
But most things will be okay. At least the best parts. If you allow your depression leak out into someone else’s paper cup.
“Do not rage against the dying of the light”. Drip and drift slowly into the night.
need a storm shelter,
only a warm towel
to dry your hair with.