Scratch

Content notice: morbid thoughts, indirect references to suicidal ideation.

The noise has returned.
It’s a scratching sound, like someone is dragging their fingernails across the inside of my skull. It’s as if my head is a coffin, and someone has been buried alive inside it, and they’re trying to claw their way out.
The noise sounds frantic. It feels more desperate this time. I’m trying to fight off the despair, to keep calm and save what oxygen we might have left, but it’s not working. The panic is creeping into my thoughts, and showing in my eyes, and seeping down into my fingertips. My hands are shaking and my breath keeps catching in my throat.
The one place it doesn’t show is on my face. The corners of my mouth stop working properly, the muscles in my cheeks fail to contract, my brow does not scrunch or wrinkle or rise. My face is blank and empty. It has become the perfect mask to hide this relentless noise behind. I know I’m supposed to recognize this a sign that some connection between my muscles and my feelings and my mind has ceased to function properly, but it’s hard to care when it’s such a relief. People don’t usually see your trembling fingers or how you keep swallowing or the way your feet drag; most of them only look at your face, and if your face is empty enough, you’re as good as invisible.
I prefer being invisible right now. When people try to talk to me I just end up feeling guilty because I can’t hear them over that damning sound. I’ll try to force a smile and nod and make affirming noises at the right times, but the smile never looks quite right and my voice is a little too loud. Everything about me seems strained, and I can tell, but I can’t seem to find a place between trying too hard and not trying it all; I can only slide from one pole to the over, and I either seem dishonest or inconsiderate. At least when I’m invisible I know others won’t be wounded by my bewildering existence, with all its rough surfaces and torn edges.
Every once in a while, when I manage to drag my feet past my doorstep, I see other invisible people with masks over their faces and shadows in their eyes. We never speak more than a word or two, if we speak at all, lest we alert others to our presences. Speaking isn’t really necessary when two invisible people meet, though; you already know by virtue of being seen by them that they must be invisible too, and that knowing doesn’t need to be put into words. It’s a relief just being near someone who can see you, someone who does not need you to explain. It’s a comfort to be able to just be for a moment, to just exist without defending yourself or hiding, without having to be completely alone.
“You can see me?”
I don’t answer. I try, but all that happens is a strange twitch in one corner of my mouth.
“Do you hear it too?”
I try to nod, but I’m moving a little too fast and my motion looks more like rocking than nodding. It’s okay though; I can tell you understand. You light your cigarette while I take the last drag of mine. The scratching gets louder, and louder still. I tell myself I’m too old for this, but the noise doesn’t care. It’s determined to find a way out. I have to walk away before it starts climbing down into my throat and tumbling out my mouth in sobs and jumbled strings of words. We share one more quiet moment, nodding silently to ourselves. We exchange a brief but understanding look before I step away. I try to wave but I only manage to move my hand up to the wrist; my arm stays hanging. You still see it though, because you know, and you nod again. I fade away down the street and you fade back into the concrete, and we both fade back out of sight.
We exist unseen except to each other, but we exist. Or at least, we existed for a moment.
We passed each other, and the moment passed us.
We pass by. We pass on.
We all do.

Words About Nothing

Content warning: Depression, references to self injury. If you are viewing this page on a desktop, you should be able to see a little worm on a hook to the left (with the current theme, at time of posting). If you continue reading and reach content which you find distressing, clicking the worm will take you back to the top of the page.

I used to write all the time.

I’ve never really been good at it, but sometimes it feels like the only thing keeping me alive.

I feel like writing the most when my depression is at its worst, but the more depressed I am the more I hate what I write. It feels impossible to write anything about being depressed and miserable without sounding completely cliche. What could I possibly have to say that hasn’t already been said a thousand times by the hundreds upon hundreds of depressed writers who have already tried to capture this dark beast and pin it to paper?

I have to remind myself that I’m writing for myself, not an audience. I’m writing because it keeps my mind moving from one line to the next. It keeps me breathing, keeps me from falling into the pit of misery in the back of my mind, keeps me from giving in to the urge to drink myself to sleep or start cutting again. I haven’t cut myself in years, but I think about it from time to time. I’m thinking about it now, and if I’m honest with myself, I never really stopped the behavior entirely. I just replaced with more subtle ways of injuring myself. The behavior that started before the cutting – this frantic scratching, like I’m trying to claw my way out of my own skin, which leaves red oozing patches that turn into scars that look more like birth marks than old wounds – decreased in frequency but never stopped. It was never a controlled behavior; I never quite managed to take control of it enough to make it stop.

I don’t really have anything to say. I don’t have anything to write about. I’m just typing. It’s just words. I’m just moving across the screen because I don’t have the energy to move myself across the room, let alone out of the house. There are things I could be doing to help myself, I know, but I just don’t have the energy. I don’t have the will. It’s better to be writing it out than doing nothing, though. At least it’s something, some kind of thought, some sort of motion. Maybe it will help me build some kind of momentum, get me close enough to the edge of the hole I’ve fallen into to start clawing my way back out.

Depression is a pit. It’s a pit filled with nothingness. I can fill a page with words, I can spell them correctly and arrange them properly and use words that have richness and texture to them but the more substantial my writing is the less true it becomes, because depression isn’t a novel full of heaviness and misery. Depression is a book made of blank page after blank page. It’s less the presence of something awful, and more the absence of every good and beautiful thing. It’s emptiness, and filling a page with words about it isn’t as true as that empty page. It’s nothingness, and all the words for nothingness are less descriptive than no words at all.

Just imagine this is a blank screen that would take you weeks, maybe months, of scrolling to reach its end. That’s all this really is, and that would be a much better depiction of this thing I’m trying to describe. Just imagine all that nothingness, because it would be truer than all these words about nothing.

That’s all this really is. Words about nothing.

Nothing.