Here and there, I have Word Documents saved on my computer, entries in my journal, and drawings on plain, white computer paper that I created while feeling in the compartment. This isn’t one of them, at least I don’t think. I just found it, nearly no memory of its existence or why I created it.
I’ve spoken about feeling depressed with exactly four people besides my therapist- my college boyfriend (once), my parents (also once), and my best friend (two or three times). Below, written over three years after the memory and a few months before starting therapy… one of my first attempts at dismantling the compartment.
Written November 1, 2014
The first time I felt very close to happy was also the first time I realized (or acknowledged) that something was deeply, deeply wrong with me.
All my boxes were finally checked, some that I had been dreaming about for 7 years or more: friends and roommates that I loved (check), a social life that I felt actively a part of (check), sweatshirts that were acceptable to wear most days because of their adorable embroidered Greek letters (check), and, maybe most importantly, a boyfriend. He called me his. He walked with me through the quads. He kissed me upon arrival, and no one else. He linked my arm at parties and said “let’s go home,” and I didn’t have to be embarrassed that it was clear we were going home together. It was blissful and made me giddy.
After we started ‘officially’ dating, it only took me a few weeks to get over the unworthiness feeling, the sense that people looked at us and thought How? Why? Because it was already clear that we were, it was, and so I could be, finally, unapologetic for being. That unapologeticness—it was intoxicating.
The night I cried to him was a Friday or a Saturday- a night and a time that unspoken social codes dictated a college couple should not spend in a small dorm room discussing dark things.
I guess I was being weird, which led to the explaining, which led to the crying. The weirdness came, I guess, because of the feeling inside, the darkness that, for the first time, I couldn’t name. I couldn’t say it was loneliness. Or insecurity. Or anxiety. It wasn’t and it was—it was so much more than those things but also none of them. It had no reason, and it was terrifying.
The explaining came, I guess, because of the unapologeticness. He called me his. That, and I didn’t want to let the weirdness go misinterpreted. Maybe I also wanted something deep and dramatic between us. Maybe I wanted him to say it was ok. For him to call me his despite it, because of it.
The crying came because of the feeling in general, but also because he didn’t really get it, and I could tell. The guy who wore his heart on his sleeve, or filled it into his cup, didn’t, I don’t think, really grasp what the girl meant by a deep, unexplainable, paralyzing sadness, resulting in guilt, resulting in sadness-guilt.
He was genuinely confused, I think, but he knew what to do.
We left the dorm and had a perfect night, driving his rust-colored Jeep down the one main road and to the baseball field, unloading thick, scratchy, blankets from his trunk and making our bed beneath the stars. From our backs, we stared ahead into the vastness and laughed, signaling we had gotten through something. Nothing profound needed to be said. I probably breathed in the spring air and thought consciously to myself about enjoying that moment, about not taking it for granted. I felt loved, wanted, cared for, if not understood. I felt very close to happy.
But, I realized, confused, it wasn’t enough, and maybe never would be.
I’m accustomed to telling myself I feel joyful, or grateful, or in the moment, instead of actually feeling it in my pores and in my cells. The only things I actually feel are tears welling up and that sinking, sinking feeling.