“I am a rock. I am an island.”
I reminded myself of this every day. I didn’t need anyone else in my life and I didn’t want them. I stood alone, far away from those who were continually reaching out to me.
I’d been suffering from severe depression for several months. It was an illness that ran in my family and one I’d dealt with before, but it took me months to accept that it was coming back. In my mind, depression was just an uncomfortable phase I’d been through before but now was safely in the past, and there to stay.
But after months of mornings when I couldn’t get out of bed and nights when I sobbed myself to sleep, I had to admit there was something wrong.
But what? I had a good life. I was finishing my last semester of classes before an internship and then graduation. I had a new job that I enjoyed, roommates that I got along with, good friends. But I was miserable. Those closest to me recognized something was off. My roommate and best friend, Taylor, grew more and more concerned about me. She greeted me and tried to talk when I got home each evening, but I ignored her and locked myself in my room.
Why can’t she just leave me alone? Why does she have to bother me all the time?
I knew I was being unreasonable. I knew she loved me more than I deserved and was worried about my well-being. But I couldn’t be around her, couldn’t be around anyone. I hurt too much. Any social interactions were too draining to handle. Going to school, going to church, going to work all required me to pretend that I was fine and that I was happy. I was exhausted from pretending but I couldn’t not pretend.
The thing about depression is that it carries with it a good deal of shame. Not only did I feel miserable, but I felt miserable that I felt miserable. Everyone else can handle life, I thought. Everyone else can deal with their problems. Everyone else can be an optimist. I brought this upon myself for being a weak human being.
So, being alone was the best place to be, where I didn’t have to pretend and I didn’t have to be embarrassed. I cut myself off from everyone around me, interacting and going through the motions of my life just enough to make it look like things were okay.
But I’m human and humans get lonely. When I thought I couldn’t handle all the pain, all the unexplainable hurting, I would drive to Utah Lake, park my car on a deserted road by the shore, and cry until I couldn’t breathe. The only one there with me was Paul Simon.
“I’ve built walls, a fortress deep and mighty that none may penetrate. I have no need of friendship.”
It was better that way. I was just a burden on my friends and family. Needing no one else was the only way I could prove to myself that I was not the weak, pathetic person I felt I was.
“I am shielded in my armor, hiding in my room safe within my womb. I touch no one and no one touches me.”
If I never accepted help or love from anyone else, I wouldn’t have to give it. Because I couldn’t. I was falling apart and it took all my effort and energy to try to keep myself together. I knew I shouldn’t be so selfish and focused on my own problems, but it’s all I felt like I could do. Away from everyone else, I wouldn’t feel guilty that I couldn’t reach out to them and care for them like I knew I should.
“A rock feels no pain and an island never cries.”
Yes, I was a rock, I was an island. And and if I could continue like that, I would feel no pain and never cry.