Tag Archives: depression

A Radical Softness

I attempt to ascertain my sadness as a form of productivity because it’s been drilled into my head I am worth no more than the fruits of my structured labour. I cried on the phone to a friend of mine.

Why are you Crying?” He asked me.

I told him I was ugly, I said I knew not why I wept and that I wish I could stop

This is when he taught me about this “radical softness.” A state of being in a harsh and brutal world where one can open up their petals for the chance to be kissed by the sun. Call it escapism, but it made a lot of sense to me. I staggered my thoughts to articulate them in a fanciful web of utterances which wouldn’t communicate how it is I feel. To feel weak in a powerful way. To radiate your sensitivity through a hardened exterior, shining forth to blind others as they squint away. To cry for no god damn reason.

Why do you think you’re ugly?” He asked me.

I told him I’m ugly because of my skin, because of my identity, because when people get too close to touch me they flinch and recoil.

This is when he assured me I was one with the earth. If I wasn’t in such a state I probably would have hung up the phone because who has time for this hippy bullshit? But I was in a state, so I heard him out, I heard what this friend of mine on the other side of London murmured as I curled up under a blanket, my once white pillow turning a blotchy black. My brown skin wasn’t to be hated, but nurtured. To bloom. How can I bloom in the dark? Can any of us bloom in the dark?

I dunno, trying to write about a thing that is uplifting seems to go against all the nihilistic tendencies of my mind. It doesn’t seem it, it is it. I want to write about happiness but whenever I want to write I am unhappy. I want to communicate the speck of hope I often examine on the tip of my finger but then I ponder, “what’s the point? This happiness or unhappiness is mine and therefore I cannot communicate it to anyone because it is mine and it is mine alone.” So aside from being selfish in my own unhappiness, the only logical thing to do is be generous in my happiness.

Can I take this happiness as something to be found within my tears, within this radical softness? Flowers will bloom because what the fuck am I going to do about it? I’m going to bloom because what the fuck are you going to do about it? After embracing my radical softness (don’t get any ideas because I’ll still cut a bitch) I found a strength. Not only am I soft to others, but I am soft and gentle to myself. And in doing that my regimented self care came to fruition.

I envy your tears,” I recall this provocation as I sit in this pub nestled in a South London town completely on my own. This place doesn’t serve food, only liquids. It would be a bad idea for them to serve food, there are so many places on the street that offer cheap and hot food. It would just cost them money. My tears which have been since elated are in a bit of an uncertain position. They’re not used to gentle treatment. Now I idolise them in their happy bountifulness. They’re not used to a confrontation without the stigma of manic depression. I always precariously gift my mental state to others, like a cat who brings home a mutilated creature. I thought I did good to bring home my prized possession! I hunted my mind, won’t you examine it? Commend me for my agility in its entrapment, let us dissect my brain and dance in its blood. And so on, and so forth. Perhaps cats know just how hideous their prey is, and that their masters will recoil at the offensive smells. But what else can kitty do, it must bring home something. It can’t simply be an elusive “thing, object, pet” with no substance. I cannot go on with no substance! Here, I thrust my rodents under your nose. Smell the decay and through the decay you shall smell the roses.

Through these tears I wiped away the dirt and uncovered my self! I sit here in a cheap fur coat, too broke for a beer and I could easily scream “I exist!

I exist!

I am a fog

A selfish fog

A fog that wants to encompass everything

And smother your sight

Your breath

Your voice

I am the fog which is the only thing everything can see

There is nothing

Nothing, besides me

But, like all fogs

For I am no exception

We fade away

Slowly, the mist evaporates

My self dissipates

Then you’ll see

You’ll see beyond me

The veil is lifted and I,

Well I, I am no longer a fog

You can see now, with a forked tongue and eyes alight

I am a fire

My colours they dance!

They dance, they sway, they flicker, they beckon

My colours, they dance

The fire that I am, I want you to come closer

Move away from the fog and touch the shrill blue

My beautiful blue that truly

Encompasses everything I do

Recoil! Shudder! Move away!

The blue, this blue that wants you to stay

But you run, you hurt

You’re in pain,

I’m sorry that this blue

Was misleading in its hue

My rain comes forth and smothers this fire

Killing this pain and in turn

Nurturing you higher

This is my love, my love for you!

And I will water it, all the way through.

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I didn’t quite know what to title this piece of writing. It’s difficult to pigeonhole tumultuous thoughts invading your body and mind into one or two words in the hopes it aptly describes one aspect of this shit storm of depression and anxiety you’re going through. The past few months have grown increasingly difficult to cope with, so much so mental health awareness week or whatever wasn’t even on my conscience. What was on my agenda was staying alive and being okay with it.

To write about mental health is a tricky area as it may invite unwanted phrases such as “but I thought you had this going for you,” or questions such as “so what?” perhaps those people are right, maybe it’s not such a big deal. I’m not here to list out every single one of my woes and concerns to justify my state of mind. Before I write anything, I go through something I call my “paranoid session.” I fret that maybe these words and sentences don’t actually have any intrinsic meaning to them, that there’s no point for me to write about experiences. To overcome this session, I just have to acknowledge that it is indeed the truth. There is no intrinsic, profound meaning to my words, that yes, this blog post won’t change things. I’m not about to wrap a thin veil around my justification and say I’m trying to raise awareness of my “psychological problems” as my doctor phrased it, and to perhaps encourage others to reach out about their own mental health.

As a side note, speaking up about your emotional state is of great importance. There is a big reason for the existence of mental health awareness week, no matter how flippantly I mentioned it. Doctors and campaigns are only the start of recovery or a better life. In short, they enable change for the better, even if it hurts. I told my therapist that talking to them felt like an open wound, that even the slightest breeze would make me wince. My temporary and unsanitary bandages would previously come in the form of destructive self medication. But now I’m keeping the affected area clean and applying the right ointments. I have accepted that the scars I’ll bear from here on out will not always be visible.

Rather “selfishly”, I have this condition where writing about my “self” and putting it out there for the masses is so much easier than having an intimate discussion with a loved one. After my first session in a while I remember calling up a friend, I was desperate to talk to someone, to spill everything out and just tell them “you know what, I’m having a nervous breakdown.” I heard the comforting and familiar voice say “hello?” to which I felt myself completely shut down. I just did the usual act-like-everything’s-fine-and-deal-with-it-later and cut the conversation as soon as it hit a minute and a half. It was awkward, it was strained, it was unhealthy.

I’d been lumbering around with endless responsibilities on my back, far too “grown up” than I had ever anticipated upon entering my twenties. When I had the first moment in two months where I didn’t have to send an email, go to work, to lectures, to meetings, to figure out if I can afford my education, if my education was even worth it, if I’d even succeed in it, I’d sit down and feel like I had entered a vacuum. You know, everything was eerily quiet like my mind had been converted into a lynchian ghost-town where the spirits of admin lurked around every corner, ready to pounce as soon as my alarm went off. It was all or nothing: either I be thrown into a pit of duties I had no profound interest in, or I strapped myself into a rocket and launched myself into space without a helmet. Sitting down and writing this feels alien. I’m not meant to express myself, not in this position for sure.
My doctor told me they wouldn’t officially diagnose me with anything because chances are it would put my future career aspirations in jeopardy. I’m not too well versed in how mental health works with “work” but I didn’t want to take a chance. I just nodded and took whatever prescription was being offered to me. I’m on mood stabilisers without “officially” being unstable. Go figure. Without knowing what to completely expect, not having a single word to define my “psychological problems” feels much like not finding the right word to title this piece.

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