There are times when we run out of things to distract us from ourselves. During those times, we’re compelled to endure that emptiness that lives somewhere inside of us, that void that we spend most of our lives looking for things and experiences to fill. For some reason, there is always someone who feels that void more than others, it comes like a tinge of sadness that never seems to ebb away no matter what he does. It makes a nest in his soul and stays there like an unwanted guest. In a desperate attempt to cure that emptiness, he rushes to acquire money, power, fame or even skills, but it seems like all that is futile, because that emptiness can only be cured from within, not without.
Imagine he works at one of those corporate offices with sleek interior designs and lounges where they serve you coffee as you wait for your appointment. Perhaps he always wears bespoke suits, his shoes and manners often polished, charming smile on his face and impeccable people skills. He’s always on time, never misses a deadline, and always ends a meeting with a client with ‘you’ll have what you need by the end of the day’. He works in IT, so he is bespectacled, but he doesn’t wear those old school round glasses that physics professors do. Maybe he is the head of his department, but he hates to delegate work because people don’t always complete assignments to his liking, so he does most assignments by himself. He leaves the office after everyone else has long gone home. Everyone says he is on his way to the top of the corporate ladder.
Maybe when it begins it is so subtle that no one really notices, mostly because often there is nothing to notice, mental illness doesn’t present physical symptoms the way food poisoning does. He starts staying longer at the club, often with a beer on his table which he sips slowly until the sun rises then he has to leave because no one likes to drink to the sunrise. Then he starts drinking more often, sometimes up to 3am on weekdays before rushing home to shower and change then dash back to his busy office desk.
One day, he is sitting in his Vanguard heading home, and he starts to hear a voice in his head telling him that he is a worthless piece of s**t that doesn’t deserve to be alive and that he should just ram his car behind the trailer that is ahead of him. He is stupefied, shocked out of his wits, but he doesn’t know what to do about it. He figures that he probably is just too tired and should take it easy, vows to never tell anyone about that incident because he would sound crazy, and he is not crazy, is he? So he sweeps the events of that night under the rag together with all the problems he has been avoiding, his past he is yet to sort out, and his fears that he is unable to face. And then he hopes that the voice goes away, even though he does not know that it comes from within.
The voice kinda disappears, and when it does, he reverts back to his old self, staying up late working or drinking, then waking up early to rush back to the office. One cold morning he wakes up just like he always has for the past three years he’s been living in that house and he doesn’t feel like himself. There is this intense feeling of sadness that has crept into him and become part of him, and he feels like he has lost the capacity to experience joy, or happiness, anymore. just pure sadness. It feels like he is falling into a pitch black bottomless pit that has no walls to hold onto and stop him from falling, and it scares him. Then the dreaded voice returns, telling him that it’s his fault that he can’t even get out of bed, and the worst part is that he starts to believe it. It tells him that he is worthless, that he’s never going to amount to anything. He lies there helplessly, unable to bring himself to get up. The day elapses, he only gets up to take a piss then gets back to bed and continues lying there lazily, and at some point he cannot even tell what time it is. Days start looking like nights, mornings like evenings. At some point he hears a knock on his door, a surprising one because he rarely gets visitors at his house. It persists, but he continues lying there helplessly, wishing that he had the powers to unlock that damn door remotely. Then there is the sound of a key turning and twisting impatiently, then he hears the door creak open. Footsteps thud hurriedly across the house to his room, and he looks up to the scornful faces of his cousin, who has always had a spare key to his house.
Perhaps his cousin asks him, ‘What happened to you? Everyone is looking for you, you haven’t been to work, why are you in bed, are you sick?’
If he can, he probably answers, ‘I really don’t know, I am okay, yet I am not’.
It will take him a lot of pain and anguish, denial and bargaining to get him to finally admit that he is unwell and needs professional help. When he does, he probably will trudge his feet lazily into a doctor’s room, sit there with blank eyes and tell the doctor, ‘I just don’t know what’s wrong with me’.
The grey haired doctor will look at him compassionately and tell him that he is depressed, but that it is an illness like any other and that with proper care and medication it will go away.
But the voice in his head will seize the moment and tell him, ‘I told you there was something wrong with you’.
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