“I need you better.”
Say what you will about the somewhat universally detested word “moist”, this phrase kills me. The irony being that I’ve used it in speaking to someone with depression too. We are not immune from the helpless feeling just because we understand deeply what depression feels like. “I need you better” has more desperate weight to it when coming from a person who also suffers. Depression for the depressed is like cold germs and easily passed to each other. The mood volley in this house has been relentless. I don’t remember what it’s like to live in a happy home.
This isn’t to sound melodramatic; it is the truth. I’m sat in bed with my laptop trying desperately to get out some thoughts. I have been struggling particularly hard with depression all week. This morning, I showered, but without any ability to stand in the cubicle. I washed myself slowly, huddled in the corner, feeling numb. After emerging, I dried, and went to lay down, feeling unwell in my stomach. I was unable to think.
Pete sat next to me. I was naked, on my stomach, being asked what’s wrong, talk to me, and me only able to say “I don’t know” before tears. Gentle words “take the day off” and “I need you better” soon followed.
I need me better, too. It’s just not very straightforward. It’s almost like being in a tunnel and you know there’s going to be an end, but the tunnel is still under construction and length keeps getting added to it. I was thinking about pedestrian walkways in tunnels in Spain and how there’s a sign with the distance in metres to the end. For me, the number doesn’t seem to be decreasing as I move forward. I have countless hundreds of metres to go before I reach better.
I have lived with depression and depressed persons all my life. My mother, my former husbands, Pete. There must be something that draws us to one another, perhaps out of a need for understanding, perhaps an unconscious want to help someone else cope with a thing you know well, I don’t know, but there is an attraction.
It can be a difficult relationship, living and loving when there is depression in both individuals. Depression becomes cyclical between co-habiting people, like passing a yawn, but at least both parties understand where the other is coming from. In this situation, unlike – I imagine – what it’s like to live with someone without depression, “I need you better” is not so much a pep talk but a plea. Like asking to put pressure on a bleeding wound for the greater good. I need you better, because we need to stop the bleeding for us both. It is not selfish to not want to be next; it’s wanting to reach the end of the tunnel and emerge in sunlight.
After crying a bit, I was still laying on my bed unable to move. I thought about writing to hopefully purge some of the darkness, get my brain working. I gathered the strength to ask for a pair of panties from the clean laundry basket across the room, my laptop, and a peppermint tea (for my queasy belly). Now, I’m dressed, warm, and typing. I am still hurting.
But it’s a start.