Disclosure time: as a teenager, I walked through the halls of a deep, dark abysmal depression. Truth be told, I still do, although it’s changed and mutated to a point where I no longer do silly things like try to kill myself.
Of course, you already knew that.
You also know that I’m resuming work on my secondary novel (primary, in a sense – I began it over ten years ago), A Gothic Symphony. You can read the first few chapters already at agothicsymphony.wordpress.com. It’s a story of tragedy, depression and despair, and it’s a story that is deeply personal to me. You see, in many ways it’s my story.
All right, it’s about a girl and things happen to her that never happened to me…but they did happen to people I knew. Pretty terrible things, too. We can laugh at them now – did you really think you’d die from a bottle of baby tylenol? – but when you’re a teenager and the world has closed around you in darkness, it’s all terribly, terribly serious. This story is a way for me to keep in touch with the “me” that was, because that time of my life was, despite the torture and agony of living in blackness the whole time, extremely meaningful. It was when I found myself and my identity.
In fact, I was talking with the Lovely J only the other day about this, and how my depression became my identity. How it felt like being depressed was the only thing I was good at. This was silly, of course, because I was good at lots of stuff, but I was especially good at beating myself up about it, both figuratively and literally. This is something I still do to this day, in fact, though the physical beating myself up doesn’t happen much anymore.
You see, depression for me wasn’t a disease to be cured; it was a home to be found, a thing to aspire to. People who weren’t depressed were cattle. Or sheep. Some ungulate or another. Depression was my savior, and I walked the fine line between the comfort of misery and the lure of death. Many times my agony felt too much to bear, but more often it was the gut-wrenching pain of existence that, ironically, kept me going.
That really doesn’t make much sense, does it? Probably why I’m still going to therapy all these years later.
Music, also, was a huge part of my life. Depressing, miserable music. Music with delightful lyrics like:
“I’ll kill myself: I’ll blow my brains onto the wall!
See you in Hell, I will not take this anymore!
Now, this is where it ends, this is where I will draw the line
So scuze me while I end my life.”
Excuse Me While I Kill Myself – Sentenced, The Cold White Light (2002)
Ah, those were fun times. I still listen to Sentenced, by the way. Another one of those comforts of old times. Bands like Sentenced, My Dying Bride, Anathema, Marilyn Manson, HIM and Abyssic Hate (I’ve written about many of these previously) filled my dark world. They, too, kept me going.
Take that, everyone who says suicidal lyrics promote suicide.
All of this – the darkness, the nighttime living, the candles, the music, the hopelessness and despair – this was my gothic symphony. I wore black all day, I’d go out with black eyeliner and lipstick (bet you want to see those photos, eh?), I obsessed over spiders and vampires and anything that felt like it came from the bleakness of 1890s victorian England.
I self-harmed. A lot.
And all of these things are Amy’s gothic symphony, as well. I feel sorry for her, I really do; all of my misery, and anguish and pain are being channeled into her, and her only outlet is being read about by all of you. I had other avenues; other things that happened to me that, sadly, will not happen to Amy.
The thing is, what I lived through, and continue to live through; what Amy is going through as the pages of A Gothic Symphony unfold; none of this is unique. People live and die every day with the same torturous agony that I lived with, and at times still do. So while A Gothic Symphony is cathartic for me, it’s also a letter to everyone who’s ever felt the black claws of despair: there are people out there who know how you feel.
I know how you feel.
Featured image from http://dailywicca.com/2011/10/08/ceromancy-the-fine-art-of-candle-reading/.