I can always tell when my meds have stopped working. There’s nothing subtle or gradual about it. There’s a sudden nothing that sucks all the colour out of the world.
It’s very hard to describe nothing. People assume that because I have depression, I feel sad. Sometimes I do. But this is different. It’s nothing. It’s not happy, or sad, or angry or hurt. I can hear a joke and understand that it’s funny. I might recognise that it’s something I would usually laugh at. But I don’t.
I buy a new couch. This should be exciting. The new couch will go in my new home. I have never bought a couch on my own before. I’ve had to save hard to buy it. But I feel nothing as I drive to the store. Perhaps at best a kind of flatness. Like I’m a robot, completing the tasks necessary to drive my car. I feel neither anticipation nor pleasure when I get to the store. I sit on the couch. It is comfortable and so I buy it. I order it in a colour that suits my new house and add delivery. I should leave the store with butterflies in my stomach. A bit of a skip in my step and a big silly grin on my face. But no. Perhaps you might expect me to miss those feelings, but I cannot. Even if I forced myself to jump about and say the things I’d usually say I won’t feel it on the inside. And in this cold wasteland of logic that I’m currently stuck in, I can see that there is no reason to do these things. So I don’t.
See what I mean? It’s hard to tell you why I feel nothing, or even what nothing feels like. You might think whoa, that must be annoying. Or that must make you sad. But it doesn’t. Nothing is nothing. It doesn’t feel good or bad.
I do however recognise that it is not normal to feel this way. I’m like a computer running a diagnostic and I can tell that something is missing. I understand that I should have emotions, as messy and confusing as they are.
So I go to the Doctor. I tell her how I feel, I can see she doesn’t understand, even though she tries to. I get new medication. It works… for a while. And then the nothing will come again. My mental illness adjusts quickly to whatever medication I’m on, rendering it useless within 6 to 12 months. There’s only a small pool of medications that are useful and I have cycled through them repeatedly, making them less and less effective. Eventually they won’t work at all and I have to hope that some smarty pants somewhere has made new ones by the time that happens.
If they don’t there’s a good chance the nothing will come and the Doctor won’t have anything to give me to make it go away again. This scares me. Ironically though, if it happens I won’t mind at all. That’s how the nothing works. Perhaps that is a small mercy.
Can I please ask you to do me a small favour though? If the day comes when I feel nothing, will you remember what my laugh sounded like? Will you smile when you think of my daggy jokes and horrible puns? Do you promise to laugh at all the cat memes for me? Can you remember my face with a smile on it for me? Because I won’t miss it, but you might.