Crying For Anything But Help

June 18, 2011
By , Joliet, MT
“Look at that gut.”
“That gut? Look at that hair. It’s so--”
“And those teeth? Hello, brush--”
“--are so crooked, it’s like she’s been out--”
“--but they say that sometimes she just--”
“--depressed maniac. She‘s just a depressed maniac.”
“But it’s not like she’s really--”
“Nothing. She’s nothing, I swear.”
Her fingers fly up to her temples, digging into her own flesh. She imagines blood flowing from her head onto her hands from her frantic clawing. Falling over in a pool of her own blood, her eyes like opalescent marbles, her mouth open, forming words she could never say, defenses she would never use. The life leaving her eyes, all because of these voices berating her for things she couldn’t control.
She imagines somebody finding her hours later. Would they cry, she wonders? Would they shed a single tear over her? Or would they kick her when she’s already dead? Were they that heartless? But even the possibility that somebody would actually do that doesn’t phase her. She is too far gone. She is in her own little world, a world she has created full of pretty things so she doesn’t have to live in such an ugly reality. And though she’s surrounded by people, friends, family…She has never felt so alone.
Help. In the dictionary, it’s defined as assistance, aid, benefit, support. In my mind, it was a strange and dangerous word. Every time I saw it, spiders seemed to crawl from between the letters and vermillion eyes glowered from the page. Help was another thing I didn’t need and didn’t want. Because I knew what help was. Help was something they gave insane people. And I wasn’t insane. I wasn’t. No, not yet, at least. So I didn’t need their help. Their help meant drugging me until the point of silliness and sending me home so they could go back to their designer apartments and tell themselves that they’d saved another life, so they could live their happy little lives and go on pretending that everything was all right for the people that they “helped.” They would just love that, wouldn’t they? While they were sitting around a fire sipping hot coco that my tears had bought them, where would that leave me? Alone. Alone, cold, but even worse than before. My reality would be a glittering shadow of what I know it to be.
I wouldn’t know I was alone. They wouldn’t tell me that. Their “help” wouldn’t give me happiness, but only take away my clarity. I imagined myself in my room all alone, rainbows dancing on the walls, a Pegasus stopped outside my window to feed, my bookshelf painted with dainty flowers and looping vines and filled with romances and comedies. In that world, I wore pink and had my hair always styled and poofed up on my head with blonde highlights. My jeans were artfully faded and my lips were as glossy as a photograph. My mouth was always arranged in a sly sort of smile, as if I was in on a joke that nobody else knew about. Everything in my head was sparkles, rainbows, and unicorns. And I liked it that way.
But that girl wasn’t me.
So I retreated into my hole, the Dark Place, the place that drowned me in sorrow while never allowing me to shed a tear. It was a place where there was no sun, where God couldn’t seem to save me. It was the place that I first learned how to act. I thought I was learning from that hole. Like I found out that if I was simply too depressed to act quite as happy as I usually did, being tired was a great excuse because lack of sleep and depression had similar physical symptoms--maybe I was suffering from lack of sleep. In that time I was filled with too much pain to slip into peaceful dreams. I learned that writing was the best way for me personally to get rid of some of those clawing beasts in my heart. Nobody read what I wrote, nobody would be the wiser. And anything that they did read they could just pass off as creativity. They didn’t want to know how I was feeling, and I didn’t want to ruin something for them that I couldn’t seem to have: Happiness.
The days got longer. My tolerance got shorter. I found myself fingering knives with no inclination to cut anything. I just liked the feel of it, the smooth coldness of it that immediately put me in control. I never hosted a thought of suicide, though, and the Dark Place just got darker. And the darker it got, the more dangerous the world help became.
I had no bullies, no one who ever offered an unkind word to say about me. But the darkness grew larger and circumstances became null and void.
I began to call myself things, poke myself in the stomach, finger my excess fat, stare at myself in the mirror and then glance down at the girl on the cover of my magazine. I began to comb through my hair with my fingers, willing its lank, unusually colored lengths to transform into voluminous silk that anybody would be lucky to touch, let alone have. I began to withdraw from my friends, family, telling myself I wasn’t good enough to be affiliated with them. I went to the football and volleyball games and spent most of the time sitting far away from anyone else, out in the lobby or down on the playground. Endless hours were spent swinging slowly back and forth all alone, wondering if this hurting would go on forever, and somehow hoping that it would, afraid that it would end and my dark insanity would be exposed.
I declined nearly every invitation I received for a social event. I received very few to begin with, which only added to the darkness. My group of friends shrank to two people in my grade who followed me around if I moved away from them, who stood by me and asked if I was all right, and one girl in the grade below me, my very best friend who was going through a lot of the same stuff I was. I wasn’t a fun person to be around anymore. My jokes grew fewer and farther between. The only ray of sunshine during that time happened at Homecoming, when I was sent an anonymous Homecoming Flower. But even that I managed to twist into everybody hating me. Then…Everything changed. Everything.
The year was two thousand ten, toward the end of October. Love had long abandoned me. Every time I thought I reached the bottom of the hole, it got deeper. It was so deep now that the dirt was falling in from the opening, beginning to fill my mouth and hold me in place. I closed my eyes tight and tried to ignore it, but the longer they were closed the more and more dirt came on top of me. Worms were sticking out the sides of the hole, dancing in complete darkness. I could feel them oozing across my skin. I closed my mouth, too, breathing through my nostrils. Still, the dirt came down and the worms danced faster. Then the hiss of snakes, not yet touching me, but close. So close.
That day I screamed for help. I didn’t mean to. I had sworn to myself that I would keep silent and eventually it would get better. But I was afraid, alone, cold, and I couldn’t help it. The word that I had hated, feared, misunderstood for so long slipped from my lips in a whisper.
My dad had had depression, too, as it turns out. My brother was diagnosed with it a couple of months later, about the time that my medications started to kick in. My doctor, too, had had it when she was my age. Fifteen percent of all teens have it. That means that there’s at least one other person in my grade, statistically, that has it.
The Darkness is a bad memory for me now. It’s funny, I didn’t even know how sad I truly was, how much pain had been festering inside of me for so long, until it was finally gone. The weight removed, I began to flourish and bloom.
I don’t remember a lot from the really early days. Until we got an appointment, we just continued with life as normal. When I finally did get in to the doctor, it was a lot different from how I had always pictured it. She gave me a little test to see if I technically did have depression, and asked me what had been happening. I didn’t want to talk to her. She didn’t know me, so she couldn’t have known what it was like. But as it turns out, she did. She started to tell me about how she felt when she was my age. She asked about my writing, and how that was going. In the several appointments I’ve had with her, we’ve actually gotten to the point of being friends. They did put me on Prozac, but the effects haven’t been as dramatic as I had always envisioned. In fact, for the first couple of months, it didn’t work at all.
I’m not happy all the time now, like I was afraid I would be. I’m not sad either. I feel emotions based on an every day, case by case situation. Fear. Anger. Sorrow. Love. Joy. Peace. They all live within me, sharing equal homes in my heart. The joy and sorrow, fear and peace, love and anger don’t get along so well, and sometimes I can’t tell them apart. But you know what? I’m okay with that. Because I’m not trapped in that hole anymore. I’m not floating above the rest. I’m walking, taking one step at a time on a journey to a far away place. I don’t know where I’m going, but thanks to the love and support that my family has given me, I can now see clearly where I’ve been. And I’m never going back.
She is mistrusting to the world. She challenges anyone who would dare to suggest that she needs help. Her eyes dart from side to side as she prays for a way out. Gently, ever so gently, I take her hand and kiss her cheek. Snow flakes fall on us both, and everything is white.
“I don’t want your help,” she spits.
“Of course you don’t,” I say. “But you need it.”
She comes with me to a field of flowers. I braid a crown for her head out of forget-me-nots and daisies. I place it on her bleeding temples and kiss her hand, lifting it to my own head, where there is a scar from tearing at my own flesh in despair. I recognize in her eyes a hopelessness, a hollowness, a brokenness that nobody can fix for her. And there it is, the look in her eyes, the glimmer of hope, the you know me look. She smiles, radiant.
Because there’s help….and then, there’s knowing you are never alone. Knowing that your secret is out, that people know how you feel. And knowing that they still love you, even if sometimes you get a little broken and you need a little help.

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