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Chapter Twenty-one
You can never escape

Maybe reading in the second person disturbs you. You lean back from the computer uncertain what Bradley's up to. Possibly, you read "Bright Lights Big City," in high school. You remember how you thought it was a clever literary device, but a whole novel of it was somewhat irritating. It was obvious you were being manipulated by the writer. Put in situations where you're the participant instead of the observer. Without permission decisions are made for you. You are taken places you never planed to go. You are told what your doing and why. You don't like the loss of control. You look away from the screen. You stretch your arms. You check the clock. You wonder how long this chapter will go on. You're a prisoner of the writer's whim and you should resent him for it. You should stop reading. Nobody needs another person putting thoughts into his mind. That's what parents are for. You find yourself wondering what the point of all this is? If you're Bud you've been wondering that for a long time.

You sit in the bathtub holding a straight razor. The water continues to run but your body is frozen. You hadn't planned on this. Maybe cold water would make it easier? Cowardice is painful.

You thought this through. You did your research. You sharpened the razor. You wrote a note. You've already envisioned the process, but you can't get yourself to slit the wrist. Would a gun be easier? You could hang yourself, but there's those suffocation issues you had since childhood and it doesn't seem like a good moment to deal with them.

You run the razor lightly across your wrist thinking possibly it was something you could work yourself up to. The edge of the razor glides across the surface of your skin without penetration. You form analogies like sawing a log or scoring glass but they don't seem to help. Damn, its really hard to kill yourself. You better have some resolve.

Of course all this happened over a decade ago. Why bring it up now? No purpose in exposing your embarrassing scars. Definitely not to your family or a doctor. They might get the wrong idea. You were young and immature back then. You know it was selfish. You recognize your stupidity. But that's what kids did (at least some). You've learned how to work through problems. You've gained the knowledge that all depression will eventually lift. The clear anecdotal evidence being that it always has in the past, one hundred percent of the time. All you had to do is wait it out. And hot damn! You always get that creative boost after it lifted which somehow seemed to justify any immediate discomfort. Plus, look at all the coping skills you've developed since being a teenager. You can see the countless examples in the media of kids unable to cope with isolation, hatred and failure. If only they had learned to rationalize. See past the immediate pain to the greater picture. Life is generally good (at least some of the time). You've moved beyond all that.

Except today you've encountered a new problem. You can't get out of bed. This is no big surprise since gradually over the past several months this simple task has become more difficult. As if every day a greater weight was added to your body. Still, you've managed to pull through the days. And despite past reservations, you've shared your difficulties with a few friends, family and even a doctor. After all, it was the responsible thing to do, you knew you needed help and you didn't want to be depressed

But for some reason your valiant efforts didn't help and worse, the absurdity of the current situation is nagging at you. Just listen to that phrase, "can't get out of bed." Come on! Your legs work. What's the fucking problem. It's not like your starving or deprived in any way.

'You're selfish. You're weak. You have no right for self pity. You're really losing it…' these words run through your mind. Well, maybe not in such a orderly manner. You are having trouble thinking in complete sentences. You are aware of this, but somehow bashing your head against the wall and screaming seems like a logical cure that just hasn't worked yet.

Incredibly, you overcome many different overwhelming anxieties, which later you will forget because of their minuteness and make it to your bathroom. You realize this will probably be your biggest accomplishment for the day. You wont be going to work. There would be no eating; what's the point? Nor even smoking cigarettes, which seemed to be the one thing holding you together over the past few days. In retrospect you'll think it was an odd time to quit. But hey, you've pretty much lost everything. No desire. No interest even in passive activities like t.v. Or listening to music. You don't care about anything any more. You're consciously aware of things you used to care about like family, friends, job, but you don't feel anything.

Only thing going for you at the moment is sleep and unfortunately you've already slept most of the previous day, so it will probley be another eight hours lying in bed before you can sleep again.

It used to be work was a good distraction for depression. Waiting tables required a great deal of organization in a short period of time. Your mind became focused and distractions pushed to the side. You could take pride in the fact that in the past you could spend most of the entire day hiding in the basement but were still able to do your job. That took discipline! But work now mostly entailed greet deal of anxiety, panic attacks, screwed up orders and confusion when stairing at the register with all its multicolored buttons. This all seems odd because you've been doing the job for eight years; it all was second nature. So lying in bed you're no longer concerned that you're supposed to be to work later in the day. You'd like to work. You know it's the responsible thing to do, but you can't get out of bed. How absurd!

Where did you go wrong? You're a thinking man. You try to act prudently and rationally. You have even organized you life specifically to avoid incidents like this. You make decisions based on the anxiety and stress they might cause you. You drop out of law school because you couldn't take the pressure. You probably shouldn't have even applied, but you know other people were under the same pressure. It was rational to think you're no different than any one else. If they can take it you can take it. But on the second night you have an anxiety attack, and you know you'll never sleep again unless you do something, so you quit, it was the logical thing to do.

You found a job that was both enjoyable and offered flexibility around your moods. You explore art and writing as a outlet for your depression. You don't let yourself desire anything you can't afford. You leave your options open. You resolve conflicts and stressful situation quickly by any means. You think positively. You repeatedly tell yourself and others how great things are. You keep busy and don't linger on depressing thoughts. Above all you avoid relationships. Better still you don't date at all because it may become that vat of acid which will eat through your porous skin. Boy you're smart!

This must have been where your friend David screwed up. He got married. Had a couple of kids. Bought a house. Beautiful family and hell of a guy. One day his wife finds a note, "Honey, don't bother trying to find me. I will tie myself in a bag with a cement block weighing it down to the bottom of the Mississippi. I'm sorry."

It didn't really seem to make sense at the time. Maybe he had money problems? Could he have been feeling some great guilt over something he had done? Was he secretly unhappy with his life? Nobody could come up with a reason that seemed to make sense. But we all had that terrible image of being pulled down into the dark Mississippi. Instinctively, you struggle upward against the pull of the feed sack, kicking and tearing, while your lungs fill with water…

Images have scared you. Yours and others. Deep wounds that linger under a thin layer of skin. You don't notice them when everything's going well. The wounds seemed healed. Life is truly rosy, and you're fooled into thinking you're in complete control of your outlook and you'll never let yourself get that way again. Unfortunately, the depression was just dormant for the moment, and you are blissfully unaware how depression is dictating your life.

Like a fool when the depression comes back your first response is to conceal it. Sure you've learned it's impossible to completely hide your moods. People know. You can try really hard to act like everything's well, but people see through it and they'll tell you so. But you've also learned you can control who sees your moods and when. So you hide or even run away from people to a place where you can wait out the depression. Sure you know sitting alone with nothing but your old scars to keep you company isn't healthy, you know it can be deadly, but you've reached your most pathetic point as a human being and at least you can be comforted that no one's watching.