Sometimes I wonder if this is really what happiness is. Is this what contentment feels like? Or is this just a brief ebb in one of my many depressive episodes. The feeling that depression is stalking me from afar, waiting until I'm most vulnerable to come back, stops me from truly experiencing the moments. I am cautious about this current feeling. Is it to be trusted? I always wonder. Am I really happy? How long will that bitch be at bay?
I refer to depression as a bitch because that's what it is. It is just the epitome of a mean girl, but the mean girl is you. For me, it isn't a demon I can't exorcise. Depression is a nagging, annoying, relentless bitch. The way she brings me under her grip is almost imperceptible. Every achievement I make, she tells me well maybe I could have done better, perhaps I could have done a little more. This is closely aligned with how you grow, you learn from experiences and do better. You get good at something, then you get even better. But, no, nothing is good enough for this cunt.
For example, I get an 'A' in class, and the bitch responds, "Well, you're in school online, anyone can just find the answers in the textbook." She tells me that my stomach and arms are flabby, that no one could love me. How could they? And I believe her, she is me. She isn't some girl in the back of my class attempting to bully me, I would have hit that girl. She is me, and I can't get her to shut up.
She tells me that my friends and peers don't like me. She warps my perception of the world to suit her purposes. A friend could smile at me after I wave, then look away from me a little quickly. Depression will tell me to read their expressions and take a hint. "That's not your friend," she'll say. "Why would they be friends with you?" And I would be obliged to agree. I mean, I am pretty terrible, right? I'm flabby, I'm ugly, and I'm only getting an 'A' because it's a shitty school. Apparently, on top of it all, I'm also clingy and can't take a hint.
Depression will tell me that I am doing poorly in everything, even when I have made noticeable improvements. She is me, she's a bitch, but she's me. So on top of it all, I'm a bitch, and I'm probably horrible in bed. So I will decide not to speak to anyone, no one really loves me or cares about me after all. When they do reach out to me, I'm distant. They don't like me. They're bored.
I'm convinced if she was a demon, I probably could exorcise her some holy water, a bible, some salt. How hard could it be? A demon, I can exorcise, a mean girl I can fight. But how do I fight myself? I've tried to fight her, but every time I throw a jab, she slips and counters. And because I have not found an effective technique to fight her, I believe her words. I am frustrated and irritated all the time.
Kamau is an artist, illustrator, and longtime radical activist from Philadelphia. All of the non-photography art in this post is his and used with permission. You can check out more of is beautiful work on Instagram @rebelscum215