A friend once told me that his sorrow owed him something. I believed him then, but no longer do. The only thing my depression owes me is to stay far away from me, never nudging me to explore the darker places within — those desert spaces where the humidity kills and an umbra of madness obscures the light. No one wants to suffer. Even a masochistic nihilist who takes queer pleasure in envisioning a nuclear apocalypse has his limits. And I’m not someone who loves flagellating himself, crawling on all fours, and guilting himself for real and imagined sins. I’ve been there and done that.
I once thought that cheerful people lacked depth. I believed they were airheads, flooding their minds with the golden light of toxic optimism. Everything is going to be fine. Yuck! Think happy thoughts. Aargh! I now believe that everyone’s pretending, and the so-called happiest people on earth mask a deep, penetrating despondency that turns their bones brittle and colours their marrow blue. They don’t want to confront the maelstrom inside because it will probably sweep them away, uprooting sense and reason, and ushering in a bleak epoch of catatonic apathy. So, they trudge on with their little emoticons and fluffy unicorns, tuning into SpongeBob while they eat pork chops (nothing like comfort food) and drink their cokes.
Sorrow is a curse. Nobody wants to spend eternity lost in a bewildering smog of thoughts, the syllables slashing you like little daggers, the badly formed sentences making cuts on your wrist, the gloomy paragraphs swallowing you and spitting out your bones. I’m no longer one of those writers who wants to mooch off depression to write, placing it on a pedestal and worshiping it like it’s some golden avatar of a god. I’m sad and all I know is misery/ I’m lost in spiritual penury/ These lines are dark/ I can no longer hear the lark/ Gloomy room/ Doomy gloom. Yeesh! Imagine living like that! I’m sure singers who chant dirges live a better life!
Now, before some funeral poet who goes on and on about blood, coffins and epitaphs pounces on me, tearing me with their deformed claws and picking on my innards with their black beaks, let me clarify something: I’ve lived with depression for 12 years. That and excruciating OCD with religious delusions and psychosis have made my life hell. Intrusive thoughts plague me like a swarm of psychopathic locusts, and I dart between hebetude, normalcy, and hadephobic obsessions like a bunny in heat. Damn! This life sucks! I might as well lie down and sleep and sleep. I feel good today! I’m going to hell, and so, I must delete every poem that glorifies lust, askew morals, and self-pity. Clean up my act faster than metal drumming. Dum Dum Dum Dum Dum. The double bass. Faster! Faster! Mike Portnoy shouldn’t have anything on me!
So, I get you, writer of dark sonnets, and lover of pathos and caves that scare trolls away. It’s just that I don’t want the darkness, the sense of impending doom, the rage, the paranoia, the guilt, the shame, the tears and the fears anymore. I don’t want some punitive force towering over my lines and threatening to imprison me each time I pen down a sentence soaked with self-loathing, and saturated with cries that eclipse a mongrel’s bark or a wolf’s howl in intensity. I want a pill or a shake of a wand that ushers in a brilliant epoch of tranquility that makes the darkness seem like something that haunted someone else a millennium ago.
I want my saddest lines to be purely fictional, and my sob stories, pure entertainment for the cheese ball munching throng. Listen to the gloom and doom folks! Yep, step right in! Take your seats and bring your candy; walk away riveted with a heartache that mirrors watching Ladder 49 or some other tear-jerker, but know that I’m a liar who wants you to weep. I want these stories to move you, to inundate you, to crush you and swallow you whole, but I also want you to know that’s all they are — words on a page like the stuff any other writer pens down. Just tragedies written in the vein of some other bleak writer; stuff you should read and not associate with me. The author is dead, damn it! He dies with each story!
So, the next time I write a self-pity infused poem dealing with friends forsaking and ostracism, or a roaring tragedy talking about suicide and madness, think it’s about Timmy. Yup, I’m creating him now, in real time. He’s the character all my terrifying rants, my ennui-washed, bleak triolets, my technically terrible sonnets alternating between iambic and trochaic pentameter with an odd anapaest tossed in like a glitch in a video game, strangely still giving you the malodorous stench of dejection as foul as a bean and veiny sausage eating glutton’s flatulence, and my villanelles talking about death and darkness or whatever’s between them are about.
So yeah, think Timmy. He lived like a pariah and walked on thorns, ate the greasiest pork to comfort himself, had his friends stigmatise him, calling him a freak who wasted his life writing poetry on a blog, deleted a hundred blogs because of scruples, went on philosophising or faux-philosophising mapping out free will as the X axis and fate as the Y axis, couldn’t wrap his head around predestination, listened to the most depressing post-rock by unheard-of bands like Instil the night sky in my bones, hated and loved writing, and was an idiosyncratic madman who never knew when to quit. And the best part is he’s still around, selling his lines for free, hoping for some cyber validation from people who claim to hate technology, but stare at their computer screens like zombies, checking their followers and stats, quoting some now redundant pop-psychology that talks about narcissists, empaths, gaslighting and self-love. The stuff a clinical psychologist would cringe at, sending them straight to ERP or CBT sessions.
I’m moving on to better things. Learning to play the bass guitar, studying French, playing the next immersive RPG, reading the latest Jane Harper thriller, calling The Brother’s Karamazov the greatest novel ever written even though I couldn’t get past Fyodor Pavlovich’s cringy buffoonery laced with a guilt-ridden self-worship that rivals Timmy’s, listening to Lewis Capaldi and watching a show that helps me relax unlike some dark shit like Wednesday or everything else on Netflix. Yup, I’m branching out and eating healthy food with the occasional gourmet meal thrown in, and I’m switching from coffee and toast to tea and biscuits. Foie gras with a glass of champagne. Anyone?
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