Annals of Depression and Love
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
By Konstance Patton
You can’t do it. You can’t do it. You can’t fucking do it. But I get it. I understand. It gets low, lower, then fucking lower, and bottoms out. Then it cruelly stabilizes, but so far down you cannot think or see yourself or anything else. You can’t move. You can’t create, sleep, bathe, clean, eat or stop eating, cry or feel enough to cry at all.
You can fuck it away, drink it away, sleep it away, numb it away, but it’s still there hiding, waiting patiently to pull off its next lowly prank. Snuffing you from behind when you least expect it, when things are going swimmingly. It’ll be okay lover, but maybe it won’t ever entirely leave. No matter how much you try to force it away, it loves you and you hate it. It’s an abusive relationship that needs a solution. Nobody without depression understands the blessing to them from the Gods. Depression is real.
To start to break this curse of years long, on and off depression, I had to literally wear a reminder - my heart, a symbol of self-love, just below my left elbow. A blood and ink sacrifice of dragged needles painfully etched into my long thin red appendage. It is my symbol of mortal love and permanence. Life has no permanence. It seems long, but I’m already waltzing towards middle age.
I know that feeling of the all-the-way highs, and the way-too lows, the streaming tears, the inward and outward fights, the self-imposed loneliness. Through sun-bleached curtains and a thick haze of smoke, I watched the sun rays bounce off of the brownstones, and listened to the birds sing God’s songs, not giving one fuck to join in.
Ignoring two days old soaked stinking dishes and dusty unwashed floors. Drunk as fuck at home on a Tuesday. The compulsive physical self-loving to feel something, to physically love myself. Hoping that the love seeps from my pussy to my soul through osmosis. This shit doesn’t get better, but dealing with it does. Today I feel okay and in control(ish), rising from the bottom where I was all too recently.
Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade did it. The thing you can’t do. You can’t fucking do it. I get it though. I never got to meet them, but I never had to. I will always admire their contributions to this world, both inspiring and prolific. They touched many of us in some of our most self-expressive ways, like what we choose to put into and onto our bodies. Our palates and expressions collaborated without ever having crossed paths. I wish I didn’t get it, but I get it so fucking hard. I wish that life mimicked the smiles and perceived achievements on the socials we ogle, curate and share with each other, and publish willingly into the ether. I get it with every breath.
Face streaked with stinging eyeliner, understanding, and heartbreak. Compassion streaming down, tracing its path and forever carrying the leftover pain of our lost soldiers. Pillows unable to mute the sounds of suffering. Eyes bruised with emotion and ugly crying. I fucking get it. Our world seems fucked sometimes, but like Kendrick Lamar said, “We Gon’ Be Alright!” I have to keep reminding myself of that.
My friend Carrie did it. I was here at home, windows opened with the unseasonably warm winter breeze flowing off of the East River. The wind rushed through my rent-stabilized Brooklyn apartment when he did it. It was such a calm and beautiful day. Vito was over at my place and I jumped into the shower. I came out hearing frantic first responders in the narrow halls. Vito said something bad happened. There was chaos.
I still live downstairs in the tiny Red Hook two-bedroom. Carrie and I, like all of my neighbors, were very close. We were a little family holding down an 80-year-old building in the outskirts of forgotten Brooklyn. His energy still hasn’t left this place, he’s unspoken of but immortal.
My Cheri amore aka Sheddy, the coolest woman to ever walk this earth did it. Anyone man or woman who ever met her fell in love. Such a lovely creature, artist, teacher, and hoodlum. But still, she joined the 27 club, although slowly. I’m pissed at her for it, she could at least have said one word, or given one warning. After two years of sharing my home, she never gave even one hint of her suffering. Then again, fuck me. Who am I to say what she was struggling with, what do I know?
Her suffering lingered for years and years and she never said a word. Maybe she was saying it in Philly street code, through discreet bumps and recklessly fun, wild nights. I wonder if I knew. I think I might have, but I can’t tell anymore. We couldn’t tell. I hate what she did, but I get it and I’ll forever be heartbroken.
Beyond the gift of life, there are reasons why you can’t do it. Family. The friends that become family. I get it, but my sisters and brother wouldn’t get it. My dad and mother wouldn’t get it. My lover would not get it. My niece could never get it. But I do. It’s still hard not to give in to it at times. It is a curse to feel pushed towards doing it, even while knowing that it’s a temporary problem that doesn’t warrant such a permanent solution.
My heart is heavy for those of us who try to do it and those who actually do it. Either by way of a half-assed attempt at a mild overdose, as a subconscious cry for help. Pushing the limits of the body with that evening’s chemical offerings, desperately hoping to be found before the end. My heart is engorged for those that really try, and have reached that fork in the road of life, to be violent towards the self, our most important gift from God, the vessel we inhabit, our most sacred home.
Life is beautiful and tragic. That is it. We have a gift, and it is a honor to live no matter what. Live, explore, love, hurt, laugh, piss off and thrive. But sometimes I hate it. Sometimes I’m just tired of everything. Then sometimes I wake up and the sun is shining down onto the homegrown deep orange and lemon-hued marigolds in my bedroom window. Sometimes the nearby Atlantic Ocean is blowing soft salty breaths at the sunburnt tip of my nose, and my angelic niece is asking me to sing that song that the man made about her name. And I am reminded of this precious gift. And all around us the Gods and Goddesses whisper songs that give life.
It’s already been thirty-something years, but it’s only been thirty-something years. You just can’t do it, it’s not part of the game. You must change something. You must do something else because you can’t do it. The gift is too precious. There is only one rule in life and that is to live, unabashedly, unquestionably, through the pain and through the joy. Life is a gift and thank the Gods we were blessed with resilience.
Please reach out if you need someone to listen without judgment and with love. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential professional support for people in distress, along with prevention and crisis resources, for you or your loved ones. Call 1-800-273-8255.
Illustrations © Konstance Patton