Listless; agoraphobic? Love…

Listless: characterized by lack of interest, energy, or spirit

Is it possible to be depressed without being sad? Not according to Merriam-Webster:

(1): a state of feeling sad : dejection (2): a psychoneurotic or psychotic disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal tendencies

If I’m not sad, per se’, am I not depressed? I’m not sad. I am listless. I sleep too much and at all the wrong times. I’m not really interested in expanding my social circle or volunteering or finding a job or losing weight or any of that. I want that stuff, but only on a superficial level. I don’t want to have to do anything to get those things. I know it doesn’t work that way, but I’m not passionate or driven. If I once was, I am no longer. I don’t want pity or comfort; I just want to fix this problem.

I like things. I like having things. I love books. I don’t read books, really, I just have them. I realized sometime yesterday or today that I subconsciously (now consciously) equate getting/giving things with love. I don’t know why, though. I don’t know why I think that giving someone something is my way of showing that I love them, or them giving me something equals their love for me (in my mind). Maybe I’m emotionally handicapped and don’t know any other way to express my feelings. But I know that things only fill the void for a while, then it (the void) just gets deeper and darker—and I have (usually useless) stuff.

It’s not like I want to die. I don’t. I know how much that would hurt the people I love. And even if it didn’t hurt them, I still wouldn’t want to die, I think. But I also don’t want to do anything. I don’t even really want to write… which has never happened. No matter what else, I’ve always wanted to write. And it’s helped me figure out things before, which may be why I’m writing now. It’s a habit. It’s a symptom of a troubled mind.

I’m tired. I’m tired of all the “helpful” advice I’ve been given about Bennett and what I “should” do about him. I’m tired of my roommate berating my decision to see a therapist. I’m tired of my roommate’s son’s racism and sexism. I’m tired of being afraid to go out because I think someone might attack me. I’m tired of being afraid. I’m tired of the words in my head that won’t let go: “I was in love once” and “silver” and “when I was young” are all examples that are stuck on a looping repeat in my brain, and I don’t know why. I’m not hopeless, but I fear I may be helpless.

Someone recently advised against letting agoraphobia rule me. I don’t think I have agoraphobia (I’m not afraid of people, which is what I’ve always thought agoraphobia is). I don’t get anxious in public places, and I don’t feel like I need to return to a “safe place” when I get anxious. I don’t like going. I’ve mentioned this before somewhere, I think, but anyone who knows me knows that I don’t like going.

I don’t mind being somewhere, but I don’t like going there. Once I get there, I’m usually fine and can adjust to whatever I need to adjust to… but getting there has proved to be a debilitating characteristic of mine. I’ve missed more than a few job interviews, classes (educational and personal), and other important events because going was too much effort. I’ve watched the clock’s minutes tick on by while I could be getting there, but I stay put and I don’t know why. I don’t know why going is so hard for me, but it is. I recently got a prescription, but I haven’t filled it yet because walking two or three blocks is just too much effort.

I don’t think I’m lazy. I don’t like it when someone calls me lazy. I’m not lazy. Before you accuse me of laziness, get to know me and my history. But I do have a problem. I miss people being on my side, so to speak. I miss being taken seriously when I ask someone not to say something offensive. Because right now, I’m not (taken seriously). I haven’t been for a while. They say I’m too sensitive, or I have no sense of humor, or “They’re just words”—as if that makes it better. They say I’m too emotional, too serious, too whatever.

Well, you know what? I’m not. I’m not too anything. Just because “they’re just words” doesn’t mean they don’t hurt. Not everyone is as tough as some people claim to be. I have a sense of humor, but it isn’t sexist or racist or homophobic. I’m a grammar Nazi, but that’s about as “Nazi” as I get. I am liberal. With a small (lowercase) “L”… of or befitting a man person of free birth. I believe universal health care is a good idea and freedom to choose one’s own doctor is also a good thing. I believe in contradictory ideas, and I’m generally okay with that. I believe that sex is a good thing, not something to be ashamed of, and not something people should be punished for. I know that regardless of what a person looks like, acts like, or believes, he or she is still a person. People are people.

Sometimes I think everything would be better if we did things my way, but who doesn’t think that at least once in their lives?? There are three types of things in the world: the things I know, the things I don’t know, and the things I don’t know I don’t know. I know how to spell most/many words. I don’t know where Mozambique is on a world map (but I do know that I don’t know that). I don’t know that I don’t know…. well, I don’t know those things.

I know a lot about what I don’t want, but I haven’t really thought much about what I do want. I don’t want a desk job. I don’t want to have words and phrases running through my head like it’s fun—it isn’t. I don’t want to be alone.

I want someone to understand me. I want to have purpose. I want to be needed and to be allowed to need someone else. I want to be loved. And I don’t want people to say things like, “Well, just let Jesus into your heart. He knows and loves you unconditionally.” That’s all well and good, but I can’t touch Jesus. I can’t make love to him (and, frankly, it’s weird just thinking about it), and I can’t really be angry mad in love with him—I mean, not really. I’m sure he’s a good guy, but he’s up in the sky somewhere and I’ve never seen him. Have you?

It’s nice to know Jesus/God/Whomever-with-a-capital-W loves me, but it’s not enough. I’m jealous, selfish, and greedy—I admit it—but not really in a bad way. I want something that’s mine that I don’t have to share unless I want to. I want honesty, most of all. I want loyalty, but not the “don’t ever look at another woman” kind of loyalty. I want the “you’re always first in my heart” kind. I don’t mind other women (or men), but I want to know about them, and I want to be first among equals.

I want to know what to do to make myself better. And then, I want to do it. I don’t want sympathy/hugs/pity. I just want to not be depressed/listless/agoraphobic. I want to be passionate about something again. I want to love/understand/support someone, and for someone to love/understand/support me.

Empty similes

Like standing in front of a woman who says thank you
when you tell her you love her, that stuck

sound of a crow, pulling the one nail from its voice
outside your window and you

going down to the sea too late, where it was
three million years ago, waving your little towel
at the shadow of waves, like dropping

your stomach when you drop the phone,
a voice spinning at the end of the chord, your mother,
father, everyone

dead, even the person telling you
gone and you
waving your metronome arm, and time

inside the trees making clocks we check
by cutting them down.

By: Bob Hicok
The Iowa Review
Volume 35, Number 3
Winter 2005/06