Entry 1: In Her Land Dead
Have you ever wondered why we are embedded with a will to live? Have you ever wondered what happens when that will leaves? Perhaps you lost it for a moment like a misplaced pair of keys. Perhaps you searched for it frantically, after all, without it you have no home to return to. Has anyone truly managed to locksmith their will to live like one would when keys are irretrievable?
I’ve very talented when it comes to misplacing things. I was 10 years the first time I lost the will to live. I remember laying on my side on the hardwood floor, staring at myself in the wall to ceiling mirror, slowly blinking. I wanted to watch myself die, I wanted someone to witness my passing. I wanted someone to care about me. I didn’t die and I don’t remember passing out. I didn’t seem to do either right. Never the matter, there would be more attempts in the future.
Before it was called depression, it was known as melancholy, a type of temperament that stained each personality to some degree. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, referred to it as a fundamental building block to every person’s constitution. There’s a small comfort in knowing that my feelings of melancholy are a universal experience, that although I may feel alone, factually speaking, my experience is hardly unique and there’s many more before me who have managed just fine. There’s also many more who haven’t.
It’s a choice then, I conclude. If you’re susceptible to melancholy, it must be something you plan for, not ruminate over, otherwise it overruns you. If you have depression, it’s something you treat, not avoid or dismiss, otherwise it spreads like most diseases do. Funnily enough, I’ll be visiting Kos soon, the birthplace of Hippocrates. Should I be fortunate enough, maybe I too will discover something groundbreaking about my personal melancholy, like Hippocrates did for civilisation a thousand lifetimes ago.
It’s better to make your own luck than to wait for good fortune. I feel like my soul is a battlefield, one where I’m losing ground. It’s not an unfamiliar battle or a new war, but I have spent too much of myself elsewhere, and underestimated the persistence and strength of my enemy. I have misplaced my attention, and I put my faith in people that do not care for me. I didn’t mean to, but I feel I’ve abandoned myself, I’m misplaced once again. To find myself, I need to retreat from my exterior identities, roles and responsibilities, to focus on my inner-battles, to update my strategy and techniques.
It wouldn’t be the first time. I was 24 years old when I lost the will to live once again, but this was different from all the others. Normally, the will would return to me like a boomerang, but my will never returned, it was truly gone. I negotiated with myself that before I resigned from this life, I would try to find my will to live, maybe I’d just misplaced it. I’d give myself a chance, I deserved as much. I never did find the will to live, but I did find a reason to stay. I swapped out the will for intention and resolute in my mission, I practiced these new weapons and drills within the battlefield of my soul. I felt I’d achieved some great feat, that nothing could hurt me like I’d be hurt before. I felt most at peace for years to come. But I was wrong.
I thought I’d conquered my health, but if it’s true that melancholy is greater than just a disease, than I’m a fool to have thought I’d won the war. While I was busy celebrating my successes and building my empire, my enemy was plotting insidious and unassuming ways to creep in and avoid detection. My potential for greatness is matched by my potential for wickedness. When I grow, my melancholy grows with me and if I do not regard it as my equal, it amplifies behind my back. If the person who was staring back at me in the mirror when I was 10 years old is a potential enemy, then I need to render them an ally. I cannot win this war alone or in autopilot mode.
I’ve grown too complacent with myself, my habits and my ways. In every corner of my life, my melancholy has risen and it taints areas I no longer pay attention to because they’re automated. It comes from me, it’s not an exterior, alien force. I can’t see how it’s managed to yet, but it is manifesting into my perspective, my actions, my esteem, it is even seeping into my dreams. It is rotting me from the inside, it doesn’t need to destroy any of my processes fully, that would be disruptive and attract my attention. It kills me comfortably instead, it just needs to erode enough parts that my constitution collapses into itself, and it’s done just that. I can feel its tendrils of ruin advancing towards its final target, the linchpin of my being: my reason to stay. Time to purge this plague before it gains anymore ground. I am not scared for myself, I lost the fear when I lost the will to live, but I am afraid for my reason to stay. I am afraid that in my effort to actualise my vision, to fulfill my mission, I’ll have forfeited my life. I have tried to fight off the melancholy in my day to day life, but my convictions alone is not a strong enough defense. I feel the walls of my sanity closing in, I can feel I am broken in all the right places to collapse and cave in, and I’m one move away from a checkmate. I thought I was stronger having survived the loss of my will, but my confidence is misplaced, if anything I’m more vulnerable than ever for my enemy has grown in size, and I have lost the only ally I know that recovers me from lost battles. I can’t lose a single battle without the will to live, at best, I can stop the infiltration on my reason to stay.
I need all hands on deck if I’m to truly to survive not just this encirclement, but to undue the formation that put me in this position in the first place. I need to reverse engineer the melancholy to rid myself of its effects. It would be foolish to think that because I know myself well, that I have dedicated years of my life to my well-being, that I would be equipped to handle this on my own. I know what my melancholy was like when I was 10 years old, when I was 24 years old, but it always changes, and I don’t know what it’s capable of at 32 years old. I can only refer to past version of myself for counsel and some guidance on how to better understand my melancholy as it exists in the present tense.
If I’m to be totally honest, I’ve forgotten what it was like to be in such a vulnerable position, even though it’s happened many times before. It must be another automation we are born with, the mind puts aside past pains to better deal with the present. My melancholy has spoiled my automations, they cannot be relied upon or trusted, instead they need to be re-examined for damages and repairs. I cannot be distracted by the outside world, or even my own mission, to complete this task.
I am, at the end of the day, just a tactician. I must plan with what I know. I write, because this is a process I know works for me. It takes more time and effort than just thinking, but just thinking hasn’t preventing me from falling into this position anymore, and I must void this process if it no longer supports me in my inner-battles.
A lot of my friends have their meltdowns on retainer. They struggle with their own inner-battles. I know we all approach our melancholy in different ways, and normally I wouldn’t share the writings of my inner-workings with others, but I now understand that more people than just me can benefit from my writing. From one tactician to another, I’ll share my plan to recover from my burnout, and my progress while I have this three weeks put aside. Salvage what lessons you can, and sow them to your own lands, and may you reap insights to help you win your own battles.
That’s for next time. For this time, I have shared enough. It’s time for me to return, for she needs me, in her land dead.
Until next time,