Depression Is

Depression is the image your six year old self came up with when you used to lay awake at night with your eyes squeezed shut and small, pale fists clenched as hard as possible around the frayed edges of your favorite blanket. It’s the flashes of horror you saw if you dared to open your eyes and try to make sense of the dark shapes surrounding your bed.

Depression is this heavy, thick wool blanket wrapped around your heart and soul in the middle of the summer. It drags your feet and hunches your shoulders for you, somehow keeping every major muscle group in your body tense and tight but hard to move all at once. 

It’s like walking through sand constantly. Swimming your way through this gelatinous blob of self-doubt and regret, never knowing if you’re going to be able to reach the surface and take a full, deep breath of fresh air.

Depression is that feeling in your throat when you know you’re about to cry but you tell yourself that the situation isn’t appropriate, so you swallow and swallow frantically, trying to calm down your bodily reflexes and battle the burning in your esophagus with something besides tears. 

It is the exact feeling you become overwhelmed with after hearing horrible news. The instant tightening of the stomach combined with a heavy, pitted weight that seems to crash down on your knees and knock the wind out of your lungs. That heartwrenching moment where for just a few insane seconds you’re absolutely positive that if you were to rip open your chest and snap open your ribcage, you’d see a glowing mass made of glass start to crack in the very center and suddenly shatter. 

Depression is starting a project and giving up. It’s writing ideas and dreams down in the hopes that one day you’ll feel good enough to pursue them, and then laying in bed in a haze instead.

Depression is hard, bloodied fists and rapidly swelling black eyes. It’s losing your keys, your wallet, your wife and your job in the same day. It’s the headline of any major news station, the starving artist giving up on their dreams, the feeling of shockingly cold tile floor pressed against your bare thigh in the moment where that’s the only feeling you’ve been aware of in weeks. It’s the end of the world.

And then it isn’t. 

Light shines through your six-year-old self’s bedroom window and the monsters slither back into the dark, small crevices of your mind. A cool breeze lifts the blanket off and your muscles finally rest. The sand under your feet is replaced with soft green summer grass. You write that song, you finish that project. You do something that makes you feel proud. Just as your lungs are about to explode in protest, you break the surface and suck in the cleanest air you’ve ever tasted. Your body becomes warm. You close your eyes and can feel your heart beating. 

Depression is, and then depression is not. 

Some people find their keys and keep their jobs. Some people pick themselves up off of the cold tile floors. And some people die trying.

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RBF Syndrome & Awkwardness: My Ultimate Downfall

Those of us in the awkward community who are lucky enough to JUST be awkward have the good fortune of battling this one thing about themselves that some people actually find semi-cute, and maybe even just a little bit endearing. And this is great. Really. I applaud you. You are the reason why websites like Tumblr thrive, TV shows featuring relatable characters are successful and acceptions are made for us within society in general.

Now, those who deal with one or more wonderful little human quirks that were added in at some point of our existence – I am here to say that I understand and you are very much supported by many people who feel the same way. I mean, there must’ve been some sort of earthquake when the existential “they” were cooking me up in the proverbial pot. 

First off, some clumsy SOB probably went to add just a dash of sympathy and emotion and somehow tripped, fell and just threw the entire jar of over-emotional garbage in my existence. 
After this vast mistake, instead of getting in trouble with the Big Boss, this foolish, foolish being tried to compensate for their wrongdoing and proceeded to stitch together one of the most intimidating RBF’s you’ve ever seen.

What is an RBF, you ask? RBF stands for Resting Bitch Face. And boy, do I have a powerful RBF. The experience starts with  straightly set resting lips that only curve up into a halfway decent smile through a dramatic amount of effort put forth on my brain’s behalf. It follows my sternly set cheekbones to a pair of wide, untelling eyes that make you doubt your soul’s existence in a matter of seconds. I’ve been described as both “seemingly impossibly angry” and “looking like you could kick my ass and would enjoy doing so,” ironically at times when I was so lost in thought that I was probably most likely wondering whether I should go buy toilet paper or not on my way home. 

But remember what I said earlier: the idiot that cursed me with this permanent resting expression also cursed me with enough emotion to fuel both an anti-pet abuse commercial and the raw power behind Sarah McLachlin’s crooning chorus of “In the Arms of an Angel.”

This means that not only do I constantly carry the emotional and caring level of One Direction’s fan base after that one dark-haired kid left the band, but I also frankly do not appear to give a shit whatsoever.

You could be telling me your entire life story, and even if it was equivalent to a chapter out of Game of Thrones, it would seem like I was completely bored with the death of your entire family and that one time that your puppy ran away on your birthday. 

This combined with eternal awkwardness basically means that my life is a constant struggle of trying to feel less of the spectrum of human emotions while also struggling to portray them on my face – all while stuttering around my words and knocking things over in front of new people. 

I know that I’m not the only one with these issues. I’ve witnessed varying versions of it in others many times. And while these little quirks are absolutely painful to deal with, they’re also essentially what makes us all unique. So, while being awkward or looking like I could beat your big brother up may not pay my bills, it does provide opportunity for interesting conversations and experiences that I may not have gotten to take part in had my face been normally pleasant and my demeanor smooth and awkward-free. 

And that’s what’s nice about these little personality traits – while you’re slightly intimidated or confused by my seemingly pissed off expression, I’m either thinking about food or whether or not I turned the stove off last night. You’ll never know and I’ll never tell.

Automated Message: My Terror and with Technology

In a world where everything is connected, it’s even harder to exist when you’re naturally disconnected. In a matter of four seconds, (seven if my iPhone decides not to recognize my own damn fingerprint that I’ve used to access it about 204,315 times) I could call up Uncle Mike (whom I haven’t spoken to or seen in about seventeen years) and have a little chit-chat about the various dysfunctional branches of our family tree.

Would I do that? No. Of course not. Why, do you ask? Because I’M AWKWARD. I can barely handle holding conversations with the uncles and other family members I see on a monthly basis, much less Uncle Mike.

My point with all of this is that for some people (like me), the convenience of technology and the ability to text, call, email, Skype, Snapchat, Facebook message, and so much more makes our job of being the quiet/awkward family members a living hellhole. No joke. Dig a hole, throw in an upper-class, old Republican cisgendered white male, Donald Trump’s Cheeto-orange hairpiece, that random Great Aunt Margaret Of Which You’re Still Not Exactly Sure How She Relates To The Overall Family Plan and who will inevitably question your gay haircut and ask if you’ve learned to cook for yourself yet, add a little eternal flame and the liquid that makes everything go BOOM and that is my reality.

“But Kristin,” you say, “don’t you think you’re being a bit dramatic? I mean, technology is great. It grants people the ability to be connected in even the most unconnected corners of the globe!” And to you yes-sayers I would reply, that is exactly my point.

Uncle Mike can call me just as easily as I could call him. Great Aunt Marge can comment on my Facebook all she wants. And most importantly, Donald Trump’s Cheeto-orange hairpiece can be seen on any major news outlet at any time on any given day.

The only viable option to combat such a technological society being the antisocial individual that I am would be to “go dark” or “rogue,” if you will. Drop off the face of the tech-savvy earth, pick up a banjo, build a hut made of mud and sticks out in the middle of the woods somewhere and hope to God that they don’t plan on making that little piece of the world’s past a new housing development anytime soon.

Let me tell you, that is just not an option for me. One, because I enjoy the other comforts of life like running water and night lights, and two, because I am already trapped in this technical world. I need my email notifications to warn me when a bill is due. I require the ease of mobile apps. Hell, there’s even a setup now with our local grocery store where you can choose your items online and pay five dollars to have said grocery items brought out to you while you’re happily sitting behind the wheel of your vehicle. And let me tell you, this is pivotal for people like me. 

Long gone are the days where my awkwardness has to be publicly displayed on a day-to-day basis with something as pivotal as grocery shopping. Long gone are the days where I have to talk to people over the phone or in person about making payments on my accounts. Plus, for lonely people who aren’t so happy about being alone, our new and ever-evolving tech landscape provides endless opportunities for interaction behind the safety of a glowing screen.

While the list of pros and cons continues to evolve, one thing remains the same. And that is the fact that (whether we like it or not) we are increasingly interconnected and webbed together, much like the strands of silk a spider produces for its temporary home. This just begs the question – who or what is the spider, and what does this mean for our future? I, for one, am eager to find out the answer. If it’s an answer I don’t like, I always have my emergency banjo and mud hut fund to fall back on.

Your local epitome of awkwardness,

Captain Outcaster

I exist.

I exist – not as what I once was. Not as what I could be. But as who I am now.

I am.

I am.

I am.

I exist, my mother and my father were mere instruments. From the moment of conception I have existed, but it is in this very second that my existence is not futile.

I was.

I have been.

I will be.

I exist, not to please you, myself, or the nonexistent gods that govern this planet – no, I exist as a mortal among mortals, as an insect among insects, as a speck of dirt on the bottom of a homeless man’s foot at a subway station.

I exist, as the bark on your favorite oak tree exists, as the splinter stuck in your finger exists, as the palpitations of an old man’s heart exists.

I am.

I am your favorite curse word at 3 a.m. when you stumble into the living room coffee table and stub your pinkie toe for the fourth time this month.

I am the ring your coffee cup leaves on the newspaper when you’ve filled it too high and it slops over the side, like ocean waves reaching to lick the land it wants so desperately to be a part of.

I am the fumbling of keys in a coat pocket in 35 degree weather, with numbed fingers and runny noses as you try desperately to unlock your car door to escape that bitter wind that cuts through the thickest of covered skin.

I exist, and so do you.

You are, you are, you are.

Your heart beats faster from lost love, from dropped glass, from the beads of sweat accumulating on your forehead due to nervousness and stress.

Your mind is tired, your body aches, your hands shake.

But…

You are, you are, you are.

You have been.

You will be.

You’ll see.