An Obsession

I’m taking a Think Kit lifeline in an attempt to say some things about something I don’t talk about much but is a significant part of who I am.

Question: What did you obsess over this year?

I have been trying to make myself write this post for an hour and a half. I’ve been stalling. I watched an episode of Project Runway All Stars. I sat in a chair and stared at things. I played a few times in Words With Friends. I got all sad and quiet. I started playing James Blake on Spotify.

(Edit: I started this post 11 days ago. I’ve been trying to make myself write this post for 11 days.)

The Think Kit project and its daily blogging goal requires mental fortitude. Not just that one have the presence of mind or the dedication to write daily, but that one be mentally fit to do so. By “mentally fit” I am not trying to say something weird or mean about smartness–not at all. What I mean is strength of mind, and this is something that I do not always have. And sometimes this surprises people.

I often forget this–I’m not joking; I seriously forget that this happened–but my junior year of college I was the president of my campus’ youth ministry organization and, thus, responsible for making sure said organization, which was pretty sizable, came together for regular meetings, successfully staffed all of the lock-ins we’d been hired to lead and, two weekends a year, implemented a huge on-campus youth gathering.

Anyway–I don’t remember the exact details of this–during the opening service of the fall gathering, I was so completely overwhelmed, derailed, freaked out, I don’t know, by everything that was happening–the sheer magnitude of it, perhaps the disbelief that *I* had been put in this role of leadership and had not completely screwed it up–I was so whatever by everything that I fled to the bathroom/dressing room nearest the opening service (we were in the campus theatre), sat myself in a chair in the back and started bawling.

I don’t know how long I’d been sitting there when a classmate found me. She was someone I knew through a couple of education classes and the youth ministry group, not much more than an acquaintance really. She came over to me, realized I was upset and, after asking if I was okay, remarked how shocked she was to see me like this–that this just didn’t seem like me, to have a break in my composure.

Truest truth: I’m not alway mentally strong–since college, I have been someone who is occasionally at war with herself, sometimes for months, sometimes for only days or hours. It is not predictable.

Today, I am not mentally strong. Sometimes I see the dark coming, like a slow rolling cloud, and I let it. Or I don’t let it, but I can’t help it, because it’s sucking me in. The blackness takes over my mind and then all I can do is sit and try to find something to do or think about that’s not painful. Mostly I crawl inside myself until the moment passes; mostly I wonder why I am this way. Sometimes I have to assume that everyone is this way, because I can’t remember myself before this or imagine myself without it, and am I really that different from others? 

Well, maybe I can remember myself before this, but it seems like a dream, like a portion of the waning days of childhood, like something that I never would have been able to keep anyway, like youth and innocence, and so of course it is gone now–I am simply too old to avoid it any longer.

Trying to fathom my habitual but unexpected bouts of depression has become an obsession, though I don’t know that I’ve learned anything in my self-study (if I have, here it is, in this confusing blog post). I can’t always identify my triggers. Sometimes they are odd. Sometimes they are rooted in becoming too superficially entrenched in the lives of others–read: so-shul-mee-dee-uhh. Sometimes they come when I am dissatisfied with my writing, or my thinking (writing and thinking to me are wrapped up in each other; no good writing comes without good thinking). Sometimes they come when my hair is staticky or I have a zit on my chin or my pants don’t fit just right–when the picture I put together of who I am and how I come across has faltered or failed for whatever reason. I don’t mean that as a vanity but as an expression of how a lapse in the self-story can crumble the entire structure. Sometimes they are triggered by learning about some unhappy life happening–death, destruction, starvation, hatred. Sometimes they are tipped off by small confusions.

Always they are painful, like my body is feeling everything and nothing at once.


I have no auspices that this will be an appreciated post. It’s not witty. It’s not tidy. It’s self-absorbed, as depression always is. I am reminding myself that this is my blog and can therefore house the words and ideas I want it to–that I need it to–and this is what I am feeling right now. Besides, confronting something head on in writing always makes it that much less scary, that much less of a pestilence in my life. And there is no opportunity for solidarity in silence.

I mean this simply as a record of what is, in 2013, and perhaps when I look back at this in a year or five years or whatever, this thing that feels like an unshakable truth will have loosed its hold on inevitability and become like childhood, existing only as foggy recollections of something that was once potent and true but necessarily finite.

4 Replies to “An Obsession”

  1. I can believe that this took 11 days to get this written. You did so very eloquently. Know that you are not alone, and I hope that writing through the darkness DOES lessen its grip on you.

  2. You’re a brave soul to tackle these topics on a blog, and you do it lucidly. Given that I’ve been in dark places like the ones you’re describing, I know how difficult expressing it can be. That difficulty of expression in a dark time, paired with depression’s constant awareness of seeming self-absorbed, makes what you’ve done notable. I appreciate your post, and look forward to reading more. Keep writing.

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