Day 7040 | Day 7097 | Day 7222
April has crept up on me again like it always seems to. This means green grass, thunderstorms, flowers, and 70 degree days. For me, April also means itchy, bloodshot eyes and a runny nose which makes me look like an especially contagious zombie. But between sniffles and cursing the sunlight I have found myself having quite a bit of time to do a little spring cleaning. An advantage to dorm life is that there is a very small area to clean, the disadvantage? College students are slobs. Some interesting things I have cleaned so far: the bowl that once held salsa but is now a month old science experiment (preservatives be damned), the chocolate cake a friend got for their birthday which was never refrigerated and never eaten, the milk and cereal spilled on the floor which somehow fused the carpet to the linoleum, and my favorite, the toilet which I'm certain holds the secret of anti-gravity because there is no other way to get excrement in the places it did. Such is the price one pays for being a neat freak.
As I'm sure is the case for many other geeks, spring cleaning also extends to my hard drive; getting rid of those unused programs, cleaning up the desktop, and filing away and backing up the unused but still useful documents for safe keeping. This, for me, is no small feat seeing as I'm a notorious scrooge. In the last year I have spent perhaps $100 on 'optional purchases' (beer and socks, mostly). It's not the most creative solution to being a broke college student but it's damn effective. Along with this, I haven't ever bought a new laptop—my beloved ThinkPad is currently sitting at nearly 7 years old. So as I was removing various expired anti-virus packages, I came across a gem from my sophomore year of high school: Cultris.
Cultris is one of those mutant forms of Tetris that followed from people trying to turn Tetris into a multiplayer game. Whenever you complete a row it gets sent to another player and you keep on sending rows back and forth to each other until all but one player is eliminated. It's not all that different from a normal game of Tetris except a little bit faster. And by a little bit faster, I mean try imagining Tetris gameplay at first-person shooter speeds and reaction times; that's Cultris.
Life is a lot like a game of Cultris. You've got all these events coming down at you from on high, completely out of your control, and it's your job to figure out a way to cram them into your life in the way that causes the least disturbance. Sometimes you manage to resolve the events but most of the time they stack up, one little piece missing that you can't manage to fill with anything. Pretty soon the events come faster and faster and you have less time to decide what to do so you just put it down where you can and hope you'll get the keys to the solution in the future. And then, just when you thought you had things under control, one of your friends just pushes a whole block of their problems over onto you.
When you look at it, there are really only a few kinds of problems you face; they just appear over and over again. After a while it's hard to remember when each problem got put on your stack—it's always seemed to be there, waiting to be resolved. And sometimes, you just put off the problems, waiting for that one golden solution to everything to drop into your lap.
I think I just ruined Cultris forever.
In retrospect, it is very difficult to point even generally to when I started thinking about suicide on a regular basis. I'm certain it was at some point in the last year but it's damn near impossible to even narrow it down to the season let alone the month. Depression is like that, the days ahead seem unending and days in the past all run together. I do know that I've been thinking about suicide for at least a few months; so much, in fact, that it seems to have set up permanent residence in my mind. Like all habits, when you go long enough doing something every day, it changes what you perceive as the norm. At the moment, the norm for me is thinking about suicide and situations where that isn't happening cause me great discomfort. Sure, I have my good days and my bad, but the 'good' days seem like the wrong ones and I consciously resist them in order to return back to my norm, to my comfort zone.
Admittedly it is an undesirable if not a dangerous mindset to be in, but at the moment, I don't particularly care. Truth be told, I embrace it. As a person who detests change, I tend to resist any attempt to alter even the smallest of my habits or situations which drive me away from my comfort zone. It is not the thoughts of suicide which are uncomfortable but the lack of them. The end result of all of this is that feeling ok or even good about myself seems abnormal and whenever I find myself in those situations, I force myself to make those thoughts return. Which is really the heart of the issue at the moment; I (as I assume is the case with many long-term depressives) have become comfortable with my altered state of mind and resistant to attempts to change it. I'm not happy mostly because I neither know how nor want to learn how to be happy. I would rather remain in my comfort zone of predictable outcomes and unfailing pessimism than brave the world and chance failure. I am not oblivious to the fact that I am doing these things mostly out of cowardice and consciously choose to continue them, I merely don't care.
Which begs the question: am I suicidal? The short answer is no, I don't think so. In all likelihood suicidal thought is just an extreme coping mechanism that I use to feel in control of my life. The knowledge that I can quit any time I want is reassuring to me though distressing to others. At the same time, suicide is rarely a meditated response to life, it is far more often an impulsive reaction against the circumstances. So while using suicidal thoughts as a coping mechanism doesn't make me any more likely to consider suicide a reasonable solution to problems, it does put me one step closer to using it as an impulsive outlet. The key then becomes finding ways to prevent myself from being impulsive, of developing barriers to make it more difficult which, so far, I have been successful at.
In many ways, depression has come to be a part of who I define myself to be and because of this, I am unlikely to be 'cured' of it. It is a 'virulent ideology' which seems to play off my ability to metacognate in a negative feedback cycle. Unfortunately I want to consider myself a Byronic Hero, an archetype which I at once detest and emulate and it is precisely this vision of who I am and who I want to be which makes professional treatment impossible; you cannot treat a patient who does not want to be cured. The few people I talk to about this say things like "It'll get better. Just stick it out and it'll get better." And for now, there seems to be little else to do except for that; waiting for the universe to throw me just the Tetris piece I need.