Sometimes, I Don't Feel Anything
CW: mental health, depression
Two paper bags on my floor, several errant socks and a pile of clothes at the end of the bed (and spilling out of the washing basket). Dinner was a prepacked sandwich and two bars of chocolate. I think it’s been over a month since I called home. It’s been worse than this. At least this I could clean up in half an hour, or less. No mounds of orange plastic bags or infestations of flies. Chemical air freshener over the smell of rot. Not this time, at least.
No one knows how bad it got. I can’t find a way to talk about it that makes sense, and the words come out like I’m spitting wet hair. I’ve deleted and rewritten these sentences several times already because I feel like I’m admitting a terrible a secret, that people will view me differently. That they will see me as something wrong. Or that my words will be trite, because they add nothing to the conversation. My intention isn’t to be dramatic, or imply that I’m unique in how I feel. Just to articulate something difficult.
A lot of the time, I just feel empty. Not sad, angry or despondent. Just nothing. No strong emotion or inclination towards anything. I lie for hours scrolling through social media that provokes no response. I close and open the same apps over and over because I lack drive to do anything else. As 2017 faded into 2018, I fell into a bad place without ever realising it. Because I did not feel sad. My room was piled high with carrier bags filled with rubbish. I avoided all interaction with the people I lived with and subsisted on mainly cold ready-to-eat foods – so that I would not have to leave my room. Fruit flies bred in the discarded decomposing fruit and clustered on my shelves and on the walls. The other sections of my life began feeling performative. With perseverance and fly spray I pulled myself out. But I still slip back.
As intimate as I’ve become with apathy, I’m no closer to being able to process it. I’ve tried to talk about it, but I can’t seem to find the vocabulary when I start to speak. Beyond “my feelings aren’t working” there’s seems to be nothing to say. And how should someone respond to that anyway? It’s not like I expect a tutorial: “Please show me how to be depressed, I think I’m doing it wrong.” This need in me to talk about it wouldn’t exist, but it interferes. If I can’t care enough to pick up the phone or reply to a text, where does that lead? What relationships will I retain? I am scared that this absence in me will consume again, that I will fall to isolation and simply not have the faculty to be concerned. What am I, if I don’t interact with the world? And even when I lie there, emotion on mute, there’s a rational voice trying to encourage me. You want to have friends. You want to keep them in your life. Do more, do better. And yet, I’ve heard myself respond aloud that I don’t care. Apathy is a destructive absence that lets you watch loved ones as though they were passing strangers. Days can pass by, with genuine connections seeming only occasional. Brief moments where I am a full, bright being.
My passion, ambition and my dreams have not disappeared. I still smile and laugh, I’m not unhappy. But through the fog, those things can seem so inaccessible. And when you’ve fallen far enough, not caring becomes easier. Just giving in and plugging through mindlessly hurts less than trying to change. But I am trying to change. I’m sorry, to the ones that feel like I’ve left you behind. To the ones that feel like I’m not there enough. This is not my excuse, but I will let it be a mantra to carry me forward. I am trying to change.