Eyes That Cannot Cry

A lot of the time, people say, “I’m depressed,” when they really mean, “I’m sad.” Depression isn’t a tearful sobbing widow at her husband’s funeral but a heavy emptiness crushing the life out of daily living. It is not a downcast face, no, it is a laughing face, a laughing face that “hides eyes that cannot cry.” That is why some of the funniest comedians are the most miserable. What does it say about us, that misery makes us mirthful?

Depression isn’t a dark cloud obscuring the sun, it makes you hide from the light. Depression is not hatred of people, it is just that interacting with them is so tiring that you lock them out, shut your curtains as you promise yourself to let them in tomorrow. You find yourself wondering when the day will pass into night and then you wonder when the sun’s fiery tendrils will chase the night away, never realising that years are passing you by. So you sit, not knowing what you’re waiting for and try to dream about a better tomorrow, a tomorrow invisible through the impenetrable darkness.

Food loses its taste, pleasure offers fleeting respite and even laughing leaves you emptier than before. Yet, desperate to glean some semblance of a worthwhile existence, you wolf down meal after tasteless meal, licking your lips before chasing another diminishing pleasure with your empty laughter ringing out loud. Then the friends you shut out yesterday knock on your door. Fighting the urge to shut them out again, you let them in. Of course their attempts to cheer you up just tire you out and so do their suggestions.
You’re filled with euphoria as you lock your door behind the last one to leave. Yes, you will do something. Their deluge of suggestions and pep talks, meant to motivate, has served only to amplify a nagging whispering feeling deep within you. For some time, you’ve been wondering why you should go on, if your life is worth the effort and if you shouldn’t end it all. Your friends have tried to inject you with motivation but all you are left with is a feeling of increased worthlessness. Surprisingly, you are euphoric.

You are excited because you’ve convinced yourself that you are not worthless. You have found a way to dispel the palpable darkness that engulfs you. You have finally found a way to live a full life and have made plans. You’re no charity case and even if you are, it stops now! You can see yourself climbing to those dizzying exciting heights. Yes, you’re better than this! Sleep comes difficult because you can hardly wait, but it comes in the end and so does the morning. With its emptiness. Your curtains stay shut and you lie in bed, tired. How long before the darkness swallows the sun, you wonder. How long before the darkness consumes you? That nagging whisper grows louder. That is depression.

For all its overflowing emptiness, depression is not invincible. It has and can be defeated. With a little help. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs369/en/

 

 

 

 

 

photo credit: Neil. Moralee Shut out the world. via photopin (license)

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Divorced? Who’s Boasting?

In my part of the world, marriage is not just the joining of two parties, it is a cloak of respectable visibility. The voice of the married is unadulterated wisdom while the single are an embarrassing nuisance. Marriage is a holy grail to be sought after with fanatical zeal while singleness is a disease to be cured. I would know, being an unmarried man in his thirties, I have found myself subjected to diagnosis, prognosis and been handed prescriptions that do little but testify to both the immense creative capability and shallowness of perspective of humanity.

Harangued as the unmarried are, divorcees have it worse. Hope is held out for those yet to march down the nuptial aisle but for those who’ve marched into and out of marriage, hard lessons are to be learnt. Stripped of their respectability, they are hugged by folks eager to hide eyes filled with suspicion and disapproval. Smiled at but never invited to lunch, the divorcee is held at arms length lest they “steal” a spouse. He is accepted as long as he doesn’t even share a joke with children: he might pollute them. She is asked if she might have worked harder on her marriage, after all, marriage is not easy for anybody.
We just love apportioning blame. Immersed in an often brutal reality, we cower from our vulnerability and silence our fears by fetching rulers and black pens, eager to draw lines of culpability. The idea of being overtaken by events, of being unable to control everything that befalls us, is unbearable so we delude ourselves into believing that by blaming it all on the victim, we can safely return to our comfort zones, confident in our ability to push back the clouds by blowing at the sky. Along comes divorce, forcing us to face the possibility that it can all come crashing down, that in one moment we can go from respected to invisible, from celebrated to denounced, from alive to dead.
In the stampede to blame divorcees for their calamity, it is quickly forgotten that divorce is a failed marriage not a failed person. Even in a union as intimate as marriage, forces beyond individual control are at play. Thus, loving devoted spouses who walked down confetti-strewn aisles have suddenly found themselves sitting outside courthouses, embroiled in child custody disputes. Others have found themselves reluctantly starting off the divorce process after being beaten to within a hairs breadth of their lives, after finding the umpteenth nude on a phone or after the coldness of desertion.
Lines of culpability drawn, we put our rulers and pens away. Confident that we would not be that stupid, careless, unobservant and downright immoral, we boast that our marriages can know no divorce. Yet marriage is not a reward for job well done or an exam completed individual but a shared commitment. At any moment, a spouse can decide to walk away through no fault of the other. At any moment, a spouse can flee abuse. At any moment, a spouse can choose to simply officialise a de facto divorce. A marriage can crumble besides untiring effort to sustain it. Starting a marriage requires at least two minds, ending it only requires one. So who’s boasting?
PS: Singleness is not a disease. Divorce is not death. Life goes on. Maybe if we put away our rulers and pens and instead of drawing lines to point fingers, chose to genuinely embrace each other, we would all be much happier. Divorce can happen to any married couple.

photo credit: Free For Commercial Use (FFC) Couple Arguing & Breaking Hearts via photopin (license)