Tormented, Yet Functional
Sometimes it feels like maybe… maybe… the demons have finally gone away.
Years of dealing with depression teaches you otherwise. When the demons feel like they’re gone: be skeptical.
The demonic imps of fiction are mean little buggers, taking great delight in playing assorted games and tricks on their unsuspecting victims.
The demons of depression do not differ from their fictional counterparts. The Depression Demons like to go away for a time. Where they go, who can say? Maybe they vacation in a warm and sunny climate, because, perhaps, they too get tired of hanging around in the gloomy despair of depression.
Like all vacations, reality intrudes, and, yes, even The Depression Demons must return to work.
Early on, when I was in my late teens and early twenties, the departure of the demons was a celebration — a Farewell, Good Luck, and Goodbye Party. I felt invigorated and alive, believing that I had survived the worst of their torment, emerging victorious from their, so I thought, temporary visit.
By the time my twenties were winding down, I had accepted that the demons, My Demons, weren’t temporary.
Now, in my early fifties, I wonder if my assessment of My Demons isn’t somehow flawed. I’m wondering if, maybe, My Demons are the permanent resident, and the Happy, Normal Me is the temporary guest who drops in, unannounced, and, who, after a brief visit, moves on like a retiree seeking refuge in a warmer clime when the weather at home is too cold.
As I write this, My Demons and I are cohabiting, existing under a fragile flag of truce. My Demons are still visible, hauntingly tangible in my mind, but they’ve relinquished the demand for ownership of my mind and soul, granting me what feels like a stay-of-execution.
If depression were a color, it would be the darkest black, and normalcy would be the brightest white. I would describe my Demons and me right now as Charcoal Grey. In practical terms, I’d describe my state as Tormented, Yet Functional. It’s been a long time since My Demons have pulled me down into the deepest, blackest part of the Depression Pit, though during the past year they pushed me much deeper into the black pit than they have in quite some time.
My demons and I have been wrestling for many, many months now. For a while I felt as if I were really winning, but, then, the demons, as demons will, decided to play unfair: they threw anxiety attacks into the mix. The anxieties render me nonfunctional in a way that the deepest depression doesn’t. I can get through a depression only day, doing the barest of tasks: take the dogs out, feed them, possibly make dinner, while trying to make sure Julian doesn’t get shut out (though, I fear I am not always successful at that). Add the anxiety demons in, and I barely function well enough to do the most important tasks, and am nearly incapable of the basic tasks like showering and shaving.
I vacillate between insomnia and fatigue, and in the depths of my madness, the thoughts of death, which are present most days, become near-compulsions, as death seems to be the only real escape from the pain that engulfs me. However, The Death Demon seems to be the only demon I can keep at bay.
The anxieties have subsided, vanished as quickly as they started, and My Depression Demons are sullenly pouting in the corner, like a petulant child being punished, though I know they’re not seeking contrition for their actions. They’re merely biding their time, plotting their revenge, awaiting their chance to break our delicate ceasefire.