I won’t say I’m depressed. I’ve seen depression… It’s not pretty. Depressed people can’t function. I’m functioning pretty alright. But I’ve got something. Something that feels like it’s diffused under my skin and concentrated in my chest. It’s been like this for the past week or two. Sometimes it feels like panic but I know I have been unhappy and when I’m not happy, I feel like I’ve got an aura of smoke.
I fear writing about the things that are making me unhappy because I would start to cry and I worry that I wouldn’t know how to stop. I’ve taken to picturing myself stuffing negative emotions in a dark cupboard along a long lightless corridor and locking the door.
There’s a long expressway in front of my office. Sometimes I cross the road to buy roast corn from a woman with crooked teeth (imagining her trying to eat the corn causes me some bemusement). Sometimes, as a trailer comes flying down the road, I’m like, “That’s one way to die.” But I never really seriously consider it. It’s like an echo of a thought that really isn’t mine. It just pops into my head.
Sometimes when the something under my skin feels like it’s threatening to break that barrier, my mind flickers to an image of me twisting a fork or knife in the crook of my elbow or at least running it down my arm, softly at first, then building up pressure. But I quell it really fast. I have never self-harmed. But I have been on the brink of it on more than one occasion.
I tell myself thinking about it is not the same thing as doing it. So I don’t really have a problem. Just like the times I told myself thinking about suicide wasn’t the same thing as doing it – that is, until I tried.
The day had started out normal. I was about to leave for lectures when I received a call from mum. I assumed she wanted to do the weekly prayer thing. It was a Monday. She did pray for me but she ended the call saying she had a dream where family members were saying I was a wonderful son, if not for that “thing”. Now that I think about it, she’s never called me gay or any of the words for it directly. It’s always been “that thing” or “your problem”.
I let her talk, then cut the call, quelled the panic I felt bubbling inside me and went for lectures. I thought I was fine. Until two days later when I went drinking with a couple of friends.
It wasn’t bad. I felt light as a feather as the alcohol coursed through my system. We were walking down the university streets and I was being loud as fuck while attempting to twerk. Then we reached the gates and my friend went to use the ATM while the other one stayed back.
And I started talking. The conversation is hazy now. All I know is I felt this overwhelming sense of hopelessness and worthlessness as the call from my mum seemed to break free from its burial mound and I started to cry right there on the road. I was a good son. I was not a bad person. But none of that seemed to matter to the person I loved the most because I liked men.
My friend tried to comfort me. I tried to steel myself. That was when the image of a bottle of whiskey on my desk and beside it a bottle of sniper popped into my head. I hurriedly shrugged my friend off, saying I was fine and needed to get home. Next thing I know, I was home and mixing the two fluids together. And I took a swig.
Thankfully the taste of it seemed to do something to my brain. And what I was trying to do seemed clear. So I went to the bathroom and stuck a finger down my throat to throw up, which wasn’t difficult because I had a stomach full of beer.
As I vomited, my friends came rushing into my room. And I was a mass of tears as they tried to comfort me.
Whenever I remember my behaviour that night, the recollection comes with mortification, but I am grateful for it. It showed me that my mental space is important and negative vibes have a way of latching on and growing roots and producing fruit when you least expect it. It’s made me realise the importance of standing up to my mum when she speaks and not sparing her because sparing her does not spare me. It made my resolve stronger to distance myself from home where every now and then, I’m subjected to passive aggressiveness. Where every good deed I do is tarred by something that isn’t wrong.
I’m hoping the dark shadows will go away soon.
Written by IBK