The first time I ever broke down in front of somebody else was with my father and it happened less than a week after I had my first major breakdown. I was still feeling a little uncomfortable about my first time when I decided it was time to get out and do something about it – because that’s what people do when they are depressed, they get on with their lives or so I thought at the time.
It was Sunday and I made plans to go out that night, but by the time it reached about three or four in the afternoon I had another episode. It started out as one of my best depressive episodes ever, and I actually managed to cry myself to sleep somehow. I have never been able to do it again since that afternoon. I used to cry myself to sleep all the time during my teenage years, but once I started working it just didn’t happen.
I didn’t sleep for very long, probably about two hours or so, and by the time I woke up my housemates had gone out and I was left by myself. I tried heating up some leftovers and discovered my depression had taken another new direction. I couldn’t eat. I can’t eat when I feel depressed at all now.
I ended up throwing out the leftovers and sculled a little whisky with some sleeping pills. Not the good prescription ones, but the stuff you can get from the pharmacy (they do nothing for me now anyway). I couldn’t get back to sleep and after a while it felt like the house was causing my depression. Like it wasn’t safe anymore. I kept saying, “I want to go home” over and over to myself. I still do that when I’m depressed, but I honestly cannot say where home is. Nowhere feels like home anymore.
As it started to get late I decided to go for a walk. This was the first time I ever tried walking to get away from my depression – I just needed to feel like I was going somewhere. I headed west toward the beach for no reason in particular. It ended up being a very uneventful walk, as I got about 300 metres away from the beach and realised I couldn’t be bothered taking my shoes off to walk along the sand. On the way home I walked past a gig which sounded like Old Man River. I was very tempted to walk in, but I only really wanted to find out if they were serving. In the end I didn’t want to walk past the people out the front because they were staring at me.
When I got home I managed I got to sleep fairly easily, however I still wasn’t feeling any better the next morning. I generally don’t wake up feeling depressed straight away. It takes a little while before it finally dawns on me as I try to work out what to do for the day. This day was different though, and as I lay in bed trying to think of a new position I could lie in that would magically make me sleep I heard some scraping down the side of the house.
I had told my Dad that he could come over that day and finish up the brick paving out the back. I was hoping he would call first so that I could tell him I’d made other plans, but there he was screeding the side of the house. I lay there for as long as my conscience would allow, and in the end I figured if I could finish the job quickly and get him out of the house then I could go back to bed.
I paved as quickly as I could, although I had to take frequent breaks to try and hold it all in. As we were paving my Dad was on the phone now and then trying to organise some in-home care for his parents. It’s never been clear to me how my Dad feels about his own parent’s frailty, I know he can’t feel great about it but I can’t read him at all. He doesn’t show any emotion to anybody.
As the paving continued it began to become crooked. I knew it wasn’t going well but my care factor didn’t allow for backtracking at this stage. My Dad started to insist I stop paving to fix up the lines. Reluctantly I ran a string line and half heartedly pretended to straighten the rows. My Dad was halfway through a rant about the bricks being crooked when I lost it.
“I don’t care! I just don’t care anymore!” I yelled at him. Then I turned my back on him while I tried to find some way of holding back the tears. “What do you mean?” he kept saying. All I could say is that I didn’t care. I ended up sitting on the ground with my back leaning against the house sobbing. My Dad stopped for about three minutes and didn’t say anything.
I hadn’t stopped crying when he started to pave again. I didn’t look at him as he went about straightening the rows. Eventually I couldn’t take it. I went inside the house, grabbed my keys and walked off. There is a park pretty close to my place, and I ended up cutting laps of a lake for a few hours – just long enough for my Dad to finish the paving and go home.
As I was walking around this lake I was amazed by the number of people sitting on the benches. They were well dressed, red eyed and staring vacantly toward the lake. I probably looked a little strange as well, wearing steel capped boots with a pair of gloves sticking out of my pocket walking round and around the lake. Everybody deals with depression in different ways I guess. Some move, some sit.
When I got home my housemate told me that my Dad had gone and asked me to call him. Yeah right. If he can’t talk to me when I’m sitting in front of him bawling my eyes out, then why the hell should I call him to find out how he’s going.
I didn’t speak to him for two weeks after that. I didn’t even call my housemates for those two weeks (this was while I was working away). The next time I was back home I eventually went for a drive with my Dad. We had to sort out colours for the outside of the house, and he wanted to check out other houses in the area. We drove around for far too long and I got the feeling he wanted to talk about what happened.
We drove around for about an hour a half and I tried to keep my responses as curt as possible. I was actually enjoying this to a small degree. Eventually he came out and said that he was sorry for not doing anything that day. For trying to carry on with the job like nothing had happened while his son broke down behind him – well he didn’t exactly say that… He didn’t understand what was going on. I still don’t think he understands. I can forgive him for that. He’s emotionally inept; and it’s not his fault that he doesn’t understand anybody but himself. The part I struggle to forgive him for is what happened next.
He started to probe. He started kind of half rambling about things which have upset me. “It’s all well and good trying to save up for your own house. I mean… you’re in a much better position than your sisters are.” “You know that the man needs to take the lead in relationships right? It’s ok to ask a girl out for dinner, just as friends or something” “There’s a lot more women than men in these parts so you are in a pretty good position and you are quite well off”.
What the hell is this! He’s fishing! I thought. This is the man that is supposed to have raised me, and he is fishing. How long did it take him to come up with that crap? I don’t care if he doesn’t understand me, but it’s another thing entirely if he doesn’t even know me. If there is anybody out there with a friend who has depression, please talk to them. Ask them about stuff, they will probably lie but ask anyway and don’t make a big deal about it. You’re not going to fix their depression, but you might learn something about them. But please, don’t guess. Don’t ever guess. Don’t try and think about things that make you sad because they just aren’t applicable.
My heart hardened a little that day. To this day, when I consider suicide, the only reason I would kill myself is to spite that man. To break his spirit. To ruin his life. At first I thought it was just an initial overreaction, but as time has gone on, and I continue to think about suicide, it just doesn’t appeal to me unless I can destroy that man’s life as well as my own.
I’ve tried to shake the thought from my head, but even now if I was given the opportunity I’m not sure what I would do. I’m still trying to avoid contact with him. Not because I don’t want to see him, but because I don’t want him to tip the scales any further. There are some areas of my life which can still take a bit more pain and suffering, but not that one.