By Parker Marie Molloy
I was tired. No, not just tired, but exhausted, depleted, run down, broken. I was existing, but I couldn't quite say I was alive. The longer time went on, the worse it got. Life felt as though it was going by too quickly, with every passing day taking a toll on me greater than what others experienced.
I felt old.
My body ached and my knees cracked. My shoulders throbbed with pain. My bones wore and my eyes strained. This was me, age 26, feeling decades older.
As days went on, I did my best to get by, but I felt more like I was running down the clock than playing the game. Life wasn't supposed to be so much a chore, but that's all it was.
I couldn't tell you about the "good days," because there weren't any. Grade school, high school, college, none of these experiences held much positivity in my memory. Ask me who my friends were, and I could tell you: no one.
My mind worked against me, throwing insults and discouraging remarks at my consciousness. "You're a failure. You're weak. Give up."
This was my dysphoria, my depression, and I lived with it. In a lot of ways, it was my best friend. Nothing was as constant in my life as my depression, so I embraced it.
I could smile, and I could pose for the family photographs, but I was never alone. If you look closely at any of the pictures from the first quarter century of my life, you'll see a deadness in my eyes. I wouldn't say it's a vacant look, but it's more a hopeless emptiness, sign of a waning will to live.
Hello, dysphoria. Hello, friend.
We'd go on walks together, staring jealously into the world. My dysphoria and I didn't belong here. My dysphoria and I felt like visitors in society.
"Dysphoria?" I'd ask.
"What?" It would respond.
"Why do you follow me around? Surely there are others you'd rather be tormenting."
My dysphoria, the jealous friend, worked to undermine my existence. Relationships, friendships, work -- none of it could exist in peace. Dysphoria was always there, ready to interject.
"Why do you hate me?" I asked. "Why won't you go away?"
"I don't hate you," Dysphoria responded. "I am you."
"Why must you ruin everything? Why can't there be anything in my life untouched by your darkness?"
"Because you're not meant to be here. You're a mistake, and I'm here to remind you of this fact."
I wish I could disagree, but I knew it was right.
"What do we do?" I asked.
"We go away," it replied.
As time went on, I began to consider the suggestions put upon me by my dysphoria. I began to wonder whether the world would be better off without me. So internally tormented, I needed a course correction.
The decision really came down to two options: take my life or eradicate my dysphoria. Ridding myself of dysphoria would require me to take steps I wasn't sure I could follow. Taking my life, however, didn't seem to be a pleasant option, either, as I did fear death.
Months went by, and I continued to deteriorate as I battled my internal friend.
In May of 2012, I made the decision to take those steps that had scared me so much. I made the decision to fight back against dysphoria's nastiness.
It still stops by every so often, just to remind me that he exists, but he's finally letting me live, and for that, I'm very thankful.