Imagine every morning as you wake up, someone takes a shit on your forehead.
Just as your eyes are crustily prying open and you waft into consciousness, a big wet turd greets you for the day. And instead of screaming in disgust and anger you just wipe it away routinely and proceed to the bathroom to brush your teeth. And every so often, scattered throughout the day, at random intervals, poop is flung from out of nowhere right in your face and you just have to pretend like it didn’t happen.
No one else around you is getting doody-bombed every hour so they can’t really relate. Whenever you try to confide in someone about the constant dooky-flingings, it just seems like whining to them.
That’s what depression is for me. An overwhelming sadness that washes over my body throughout my daily life. I could have a wonderful lunch with a friend, be feeling light-hearted and level, and suddenly without explanation the tide rolls in causing confusion and misery. Raping me in the feelings with a gangrenous dick of bitter hatred and shame.
It’s like a contradictory drill sergeant commanding me to waste my life in a toilet of angst.
I know that misery can turn into a self-righteous cycle wherein you lie in bed all day and make yourself sad again and again by embracing your depression as a kind of a character trait but please believe me when I say that I truly do not want to be a depressed person. I desperately want to be happy, or not even happy, just NOT DEPRESSED.
But I don’t have a say in the matter. Depression is like a voice-over written by somebody else. I plead and plead with the director to take out the fucking voice-over because it’s making the movie shitty. But he’s a hack who went to NYFA so he places narration over every boring scene in the annoying film of my life.
Sometimes my only choice is to embrace the depression. To melt into the quicksand and lie slothful in sadness. It’s like I’m wrestling with the devil until I just can’t anymore, so I pause the match so that the two of us can lie in bed together and watch the entire “Gay & Lesbian” section on Netflix.
I often struggle with figuring out if my depression is something that happens to me that I could eventually overcome, or if it’s just how my brain is wired. I can only hope it’s the former.
Here’s what my typical day consists of:
I wake up with the sun dripping golden dewdrops of light upon my freckled brow through the silken slits of my curtain.
I greet the morning like an old friend as I leap out of bed and swim through my morning routine. After I’m bewashed and beclothed, I exit my apartment and suck a big breath of Earth’s rich and life-giving air into my grateful lungs. I embark on my day with a skip in my step and a smile warming my face. Here I come, world!
A lovely little cafe shines in the near distance. As I gleefully hop towards it, I pass a decrepit hobo, urine-soaked and emitting an infernal stench, toxic as turpentine. I stop to pity the man with a condescending smirk and hand him a dime from the depths of my khaki pocket. He looks up at me with dead downtrodden eyes and in a perfunctory and monotone fashion utters, “God bless ya.”
I flash a smile and with the skip returning to my step I continue towards the cafe knowing that there truly is a God that shines his light of peace and goodness upon all of us.
In the cafe as I nibble at my dry leaf salad, I am approached by a tall slender man in sunglasses and a beret. He is a world-famous photographer and wishes to base his new series on my perfect face and body. He calls me his muse and begs that I allow him to photograph me. I say “Okay but you’ll have to work around my schedule”. He is extremely grateful as he bows to me and exits the cafe. I am stuffed after only two bites of my food and exit shortly thereafter. A wonderful meal.
I head over to the Random House headquarters where I churn out award-winning novels for an unspeakable amount of wealth and fame and respect. Today I am working on a story about a man who finds an ancient treasure in his son’s sandbox as a metaphor for the little things in life being what truly matters.
After a rewarding day of spouting life-affirming cliches onto the page, I yawn and look at the clock. 8 p.m.! It’s time to go to bed and go to sleep! A couple of the other novelists beg me to come out and drink with them but I tell them that I don’t need outside substances to make me happy. I’m content just to be me.
I walk back into my apartment feeling a great sense of accomplishment for the day. As I lie down in bed and drift off to sleep, my mind becomes a blank canvas for all the wonderful dream-beasts and childhood memories to paint with their essence. I am one with the universe.
Sometimes life’s kafkaesque bullshit becomes unbearably droll to a painful degree.
It’s difficult to get things done when you have to swim through a sea of invisible dragon intestines to accomplish anything within any kind of organized system.
Obvious examples would be the DMV, the post office, schools and universities, etc. But sometimes well-trusted systems fail in harmful and unexpected ways.
I got an upper respiratory infection over Christmas and felt like a pile of still-eroding sand. Every time I tried to speak I would sound like Harvey Fierstein and Tom Waits had a baby who was now gargling with salt.
I had gone to the pharmacy to pick up antibiotics and then slumped back into my ill stupor of hate and decay. There were 8 pills. I took one a day. By the 9th day I was still sick. In fact, I was worse. I felt like a slinky made of meat, rolling around in a sandbox.
The following day (two days after I had finished the full dose of pills) I received a call from my pharmacy:
“Mr. Nulman, have you taken the full dose of the antibiotics we gave you?”
“Yeah, so, it turns out that you were given the wrong pills.”
“Yeah, somebody accidentally switched your medication with someone else’s.”
“What have I been taking?”
STEROIDS. I was given steroids instead of antibiotics and yet hadn’t grown one muscle. On top of still feeling like a lumpy heap of garbage under a sun lamp, I had just basically been farted on.
After I had finally gotten better and was no longer hallucinating about demon vaginas queefing on my fragile, gay body in the night, I had come to the realization that my boyfriend, who was home for the holidays the entire time, had no longer wished to be in a relationship with me but decided to go the high school route and instead of telling me, just stopped talking to me.
My spirit had been broken, my singing voice diminished, and my trust for organizations, corporations, and just other people in general had now diminished to an almost non existent point.
A lot of my childhood was spent trying to be an adult. I would see things my parents and their friends would do; things I didn’t understand; and I would attempt to emulate the behavior just so I could feel all old and cool.
Adults drink coffee.
Freshman year of high school, I decided to start drinking coffee.
I felt so cool and aloof with that cup of coffee emanating warmth in my 14 year-old hand. I thought, “Now I can go hang around bookstores and pretend to read Chekhov”.
I could walk into a cafe and have conversations with people wearing blazers that have leather elbows about current events such as John Kerry’s rectangular head, before I get kicked out for bringing in coffee from some place else.
Never mind that my mom made it for me to take on the school bus along with my bagged lunch. And that it was two-thirds milk and had sugary coconut flavoring.
I was cool with my coffee.
I was cool with the way I would hold my coffee.
THE LOOSE UNDER-FINGERED GRASP:
THE THUMB-BOTTOMED OVER-CLASP:
After a few weeks of drinking coffee, I took some serious consideration about how I could possibly enjoy this disgusting concoction.
It was scalding hot and always scorched my tongue, it made me feel like The Flash for an hour before making me feel like Eeyore, and it tasted like fermented cat bile.
I was only drinking it because that’s what the adults drank. Ultimately, the total lack of enjoyability over-powered the cool adult persona I had acquired and so I decided to stop drinking coffee altogether.
Plus, it gave me loud and vengeful diarrhea.
I have spent the last month couch-surfing.
Now I understand why homeless people are so depressed all the time. Ba-dum-ching!
No, but seriously, it blows.
I’ve accomplished nothing in this entire month. I just walked around all day in my big, furry, shit-colored coat with my mutton chops and mustache looking all radical, and a bitter grimace plastered on my face. I glanced at everyone I passed and they avoided me like the plague. I am frequently avoided by friends and strangers alike.
I can’t understand though. Why would anyone want to evade this handsome devil?
A day after I became homeless, I needed to go to the dermatologist’s and get a mole removed.
It was under my left nipple and was shaped like Mickey Mouse. I thought it added character to my pale, skinny body but, alas, nuanced conversation pieces about one’s flawed perception of themselves that form some semblance of an identity must be sacrificed for “health concerns” I guess.
It sucked. I was feeling really lost and unstable because of my living situation and then an annoying, nagging, uncomfortable pain was added to the mix with my mole removal.
My friend Sasha made me feel much better when she suggested that I stay with her for a week at her house in Pennsylvania.
On the train ride to her house, I started to calm down and felt a bit better about how my Spring break was going. Sure I’m homeless, mole-less, and all-around pathetic, but at least I’ll be able to spend the week with my good friend and relax.
When I came in the house, her mother was nailing a mezuzah to the doorway. She turned and said to me, “Thanks for coming over and, you know, being Sasha’s chauffeur.”
That’s when I remembered that Sasha got a DUI a couple months ago and wasn’t allowed to drive. Also, she needed to do a certain amount of hours of community service at the “Y” and I had to drive her all week.
I hate driving. This is how the week went down:
I would drop her off at the stupid recreation center, go to Arby’s, eat an over-stuffed beef n’ cheddar sandwich, curly fries, and a mountian dew; drive back to her house, lie down and watch movies for hours; all while she was thanklessly cleaning wretched bathrooms and work-out equipment.
It was miserable for me.
After a week of eating and driving, we decided to take a train to Philadelphia and stay with a friend. When we arrived, it was very similar to the waning enthusiasm that was felt when I had gotten to Sasha’s house.
We were carrying 40’s and were all revved up to get plastered and gallivant about Philly. That’s when we approached our friend and suddenly remembered that they had just gotten out of rehab.
The first thing we did in Philly: Go to an AA meeting.
AA is all about sharing, so we went around the room and everyone had to read a passage from the “on the wagon” guidebook.
The guy that read before me was mildly illiterate. He clearly needed help reading and it made everyone in the room very somber as he stumbled over every other word. It took him a really long time to finish his passage and then it was my turn.
I nervously started to hyper-read my passage with lightning precision. This made me even more nervous and awkward as it appeared as though I was showing up the guy before me and highlighting the fact that he couldn’t read.
To remedy that, I slowed down a lot and started to stumble over words, as not to parade my reading skills and make the guy feel bad.
This made things worse because then it looked like I was trying talk down to him or make fun of him or something as it was already clear from my lightning-fast reading that I’m not illiterate.
While I was reading and changing my pace with every other sentence, Sasha was attempting to circumvent the entire crowd of recovering alcoholics to reach the coffee and cookies on the other side of the church.
The floor was extremely creaky and so she was trying to tip-toe at molasses speed as not to interrupt my awkwardness with more awkwardness.
We spent the rest of the meeting waiting for an opportune moment to get up and leave without drawing too much attention.
All in all, my spring break was uncomfortable, precarious, mildly painful, awkward, fat, and weird.
But at least…….. actually, that’s it.