What It’s Like To Live Here, Part III

20 May

Your stupid, treacherous heart is like the Sacred Heart of Jesus, naked and quivering on your chest. Except that whereas Christ’s heart rests on his fully clothed breast, your bare skin has been cut and neatly pinned back, your torso resembling nothing so much as a biology class dissection. The muscle and sinew of your heart are gone, too. All that remains in the well of your chest is a tangle of glistening arteries and blood vessels, and a bundle of nerves, jangling and raw.

You talk and talk and talk as if you can’t stop. Words keep tumbling from your mouth, hard and fast, and you wince whenever they hit the ground. Everything sounds wrong, but by the time you’ve said it, it’s too late. You can’t ever call it back.

You feel as if you’re living underwater. People try to speak to you, but their words are warped, distorted beyond recognition. They might have meant something once, but it’s impossible to say, now, what their original shape might have been.

There is a grooved track inside your mind, and all of your favourite fears and worries follow it round and round and round. At night they gain momentum, and even though you’re tired, so goddamn tired, you can’t sleep. The racket in your brain never stops.

You try to explain what it feels like. You try to make people understand that this, this gibbering, twitching creature, isn’t really you. Everything you say falls short of what you mean, and you realize that every single word you know is completely insufficient. You wonder if this would be any easier in another language, if the Germans have a word for waking up to the raw, grey dread that’s become your norm.

You start to cry. You hate yourself for crying. Is there anyone that you will ever hate more than yourself?

You sit. You stand. You pace. You chew your nails. You check your email five times, and then once more for good luck. You put on your shoes. You walk across the street. You buy a pack of Belmonts. You strike a match, but your hand is shaking so badly that you can’t light your stupid cigarette. You wonder if people walking by think you’re some kind of junkie, and laugh because nothing could be further from the truth. You finally manage to light the damn thing, inhale deeply, and then immediately stub it out on the sidewalk beside you. You walk home. You take off your shoes. You sit. You feel as if you’ve accomplished something, even though all you’ve done is blow twelve bucks on something you’ll never use. But maybe the action itself was the accomplishment. Maybe it’s enough that you kept yourself busy, gave yourself some sort of direction, even for just five minutes. Maybe that was worth every penny you spent.

You lie in bed under your heavy down blanket, even though it’s still early in the afternoon and hot as hell outside. Your mouth is a cavernous desert; you couldn’t swallow even if you wanted to. A feeling of doom hangs over you, so palpable that you’re sure you could reach up and touch it. You listen to your neighbour downstairs playing twangy, plaintive songs on his guitar. You make a list of all the ways that you’ve wasted your life.

The telephone rings, over and over and over again. You don’t even consider answering it. There isn’t a single person in the world right now whose voice you want to hear.

You ride it out, like a bad bout of malaria. Anxious tremors wrack your body the way that fever chills might. Your bones seem as if they’re made of glass, and you can feel them clinking, gently, achingly, every time you move. Everything hurts. But still, somehow, you know that there’s a life on the other side of this. There is, of course, always the possibility that this time the disease is going to kill you, this time you won’t make it out alive, but still. It hasn’t yet. And that thought cheers you up, because in spite of everything, the odds are on your side. You feel almost optimistic.

The bundle of nerves in your chest, the ones that have replaced your heart, twitch and quiver. You know that it’s not safe to leave them exposed like this, but you don’t know how to protect them. They’ve always been like this, stripped down, bare, too painful to be of any real use. But they’re yours and, somehow, you wouldn’t have them any other way.


29 Responses to “What It’s Like To Live Here, Part III”

  1. sarahannaoriginals May 20, 2013 at 3:24 am #

    I wish I could verbalize my depression as eloquently and descriptively as you do, Anne. You’re my hero.

    • bellejarblog May 23, 2013 at 1:48 am #

      Awww thanks ❤

      I think you do a fantastic job!

  2. mieprowan May 20, 2013 at 4:39 am #

    I am so sorry you have to deal with this. Yes, riding it out – and writing it out! are familiar to me too. Beaitiful writing, and no you do *not* suck.

    • bellejarblog May 23, 2013 at 1:51 am #

      Thank you. Writing about it helps for sure ❤

  3. Karen May 20, 2013 at 4:52 am #

    Your words have struck a chord with me, as they often do. I know how this feels. Sometimes it feels like it will never end, and other times not quite so bad. I hope you look into Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT, or Tapping). It is very helpful, especially when you learn from a practitioner. Because it can help you in those bad moments – you have a way to cope, relax, and get at the root of what is bothering you.

    And I know you are still breastfeeding (at least I’m pretty sure you are) so you aren’t interested in medical cannabis – but seriously, I’m pretty sure cannabis saved my mental health – or was at least a big part of it. Maybe when your son is finished with breast feeding, maybe you could consider it – I’d be happy to share recipes.

    Big hugs to you, I wish you all the best.

    • bellejarblog May 23, 2013 at 1:56 am #

      Thank you. I have looked into EFT a bit – it seems super interesting! And hopefully I will be done breastfeeding soon, hah.

      Mostly thank you for reading, and responding. That means a lot to me ❤

  4. Writer / Mummy May 20, 2013 at 7:28 am #

    My goodness, this is powerful stuff. I can relate to this so much and yet can’t equate my darkness to this eloquence, as if even my depression isn’t good enough.

    • bellejarblog May 23, 2013 at 1:57 am #

      Oh man, thanks. It’s totally not a depression contest, though! I’ve just spent way too much time trying to figure out how to put what I feel into words :/

  5. AmazingSusan May 20, 2013 at 11:54 am #

    Selfishly, I’m glad I don’t live where you do. I also observe that, despite the moments of great joy in our lives (and we all have them whether we recognize them or not), we also all have indescribable pain in one form or another: depression, other diseases, loss, failure, loneliness, heartache, etceteras. Some of us are able to verbalize our joy and pain. Others not. Either way, we are not alone.

    • bellejarblog May 23, 2013 at 2:05 am #

      I definitely have moments of great joy 🙂

      And I feel super lucky to be able to verbalize how my depression makes me feel. It really, really helps.

  6. Zen Doe May 20, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

    I have lived here too. Stay strong. Your writing is incredible.

    • bellejarblog May 23, 2013 at 1:58 am #

      Thank you. You stay strong too, please. xoxoxo

  7. annie May 20, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

    gawd damn, this is really, really good.

  8. Quinn May 20, 2013 at 9:12 pm #

    A lot of people mistake crying for something emotional. So much so that when i have to cry, i assume it’s because i’m feeling very emotional.

    Here is how these conversations tend to go.

    “What are you doing?”

    “Making toast”

    “Why are you crying?”

    “Uh.. I’m sad i guess…”

    when how these conversations should really go is…

    “What are you doing?”

    “Making toast”

    “why are you crying?”

    “No idea. It’s just something that’s happening.”

    I never assume that wanting to cry means there’s something actually wrong. If i thought that, i’d assume i was depressed all the time. I’m not depressed. I just like to cry. If people constantly made me feel like crying was a type of depression, i’d be anxious too.

    Just something to consider.

    • bellejarblog May 23, 2013 at 2:08 am #

      Totally! Sometimes I cry for no reason. I figure it’s hormone-related? I just really, really hate crying in front of other people, ugh.

  9. scotsman May 20, 2013 at 9:57 pm #

    I love your writing: I’ve never been able to explain what a true manic phase is like – you just did!

    • bellejarblog May 23, 2013 at 2:10 am #

      Thank you – I was trying to describe how my anxiety feels, but maybe it’s not so different from a manic phase 🙂

      • scotsman May 23, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

        I know – but parts of it are identical to mania, and then of course there’s the depression that follows … there is the same blunting of feeling, the same sense that you’re trying to run through molasses, the frustration of not being able to communicate, the sense that you’re set apart, aside, an onlooker, or intruder, into this world …

  10. Agata May 20, 2013 at 11:56 pm #

    Thank you for writing. I don’t think you suck. I think you are a writer. I can relate to so much of what you have written. I’m on the other side of the world, in Australia, though I was born in Europe. Isn’t it funny how across all continents, depression looks (feels)… so similar? I find some solace in that – it’s like we are a community united by pain.

    Please don’t stop writing.

    • bellejarblog May 23, 2013 at 2:12 am #

      “Isn’t it funny how across all continents, depression looks (feels)… so similar? I find some solace in that – it’s like we are a community united by pain.”

      This sums it up perfectly.

      And thank you, so much. I hope things are better for you soon ❤

  11. Sarah May 21, 2013 at 11:39 am #

    “You feel as if you’re living underwater. People try to speak to you, but their words are warped, distorted beyond recognition. They might have meant something once, but it’s impossible to say, now, what their original shape might have been.”

    I have spent years trying to articulate this exact experience (everything is just kind of blurry…), and here it is plainly spelled out.

    Although I have spoken to many people with the same emotional experiences as me, there is something particularly comforting about finding it here, described with just the right words.

    Thank you for sharing. You have a powerful style.

    • wisewebwoman May 22, 2013 at 1:23 am #

      I know this Black Dog well. You write of it with full comprehension. One of the more succint descriptions I will offer is “it can take 8 hours to do one load of laundry.”

      • bellejarblog May 23, 2013 at 2:13 am #

        Ohhhhh yes. It takes me forever to do anything. Like I’m walking through something thick and viscous.

    • bellejarblog May 23, 2013 at 2:26 am #

      Thank you ❤

      I hope things are better for you soon!

  12. temporaneo May 23, 2013 at 2:44 pm #


  13. peacewisdomprosperity May 23, 2013 at 6:16 pm #

    Alright so I started with part III accidentally,so I’ll just to work my way down to Part I, if that’s ok with you 🙂 but anyway, some really compelling stuff. The way you use “you” had me picturing myself doing all of the things, sitting, standing, pacing, biting my nails, trying to light that cigarette…a very engaging read that brings “us” into this world you live in, almost physically…thank you for this!

  14. Kevin Gillespie May 23, 2013 at 11:01 pm #

    Hi Anne.

    My name is Kevin Gillespie, I do, MUCH prefer to be called Kev though. :).

    I live in Wales & am now Following your Blog. :).

    Best Wishes,


  1. The Versatile Blogger Award | i before e - May 20, 2013

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