The Semicolon

“When you’re lost in those woods, it sometimes takes you a while to realize that you are lost. For the longest time, you can convince yourself that you’ve just wandered off the path, that you’ll find your way back to the trailhead any moment now. Then night falls again and again, and you still have no idea where you are, and it’s time to admit that you have bewildered yourself so far off the path that you don’t even know from which direction the sun rises anymore.”
— Elizabeth Gilbert

10390320_10208436588969245_8875653394517465423_nI am 30; I am unemployed and I do not know what kind of job I am seeking; My bank account laughs at me, so my father feeds me; I am recovering from a relationship that questioned the purpose of my existence; I am in a relationship which I am still trying to grasp; I have walked out of friendships to which I couldn’t do any justice; I am anxious most times; I am depressed.

I was talking to a general physician about depression, who nonchalantly observed that everybody is depressed these days. But I wasn’t sure if he understood the difference between one being depressed because the dosa isn’t crispy, and one being depressed because one can’t quote one reason to be alive.

How will I make that doctor understand that I slashed my calf nineteen times in the last two months because I was haunted by my past, and I was intimidated by my future and I couldn’t befriend my present? How will I make that doctor understand that I imagined myself dead several times because I loathed myself? How will I make that doctor understand that I couldn’t muster the courage to confess, write about my mental health, because I was scared that this blog could be read by my potential employer, who would certify me unfit? How will I make that doctor understand that everybody could be depressed at some point in time, but most of us do not open up, and seek help, because we fear harsh judgement?

Today, as I wrestle with my demons who haven’t stopped smirking at me, who haven’t stopped ridiculing my choices, who keep crooning funny songs about my impulsive reactions, who label me useless, who try hard to convince that my life is meaningless, I tell myself that it’s okay to tell the world that I have been depressed, and I relapse often.

Yesterday, I might have posted a selfie on Instagram. Today, I might have written about my happy puppy on Facebook. But that doesn’t mean I am faking my episodes on depression. And it doesn’t mean that moment of happiness was a delusion.

The streak of light, and the cloud of darkness travel together in my head. They grant me no control, so I don’t know when I would see the light and when the darkness would smother me.

All I know is that I am their home.

I can’t drive the darkness away with that streak of light; I can’t fan the light with that darkness. I have to hug both of them, and feel them intensely. I have to gather all my courage to endure the darkness, and thwart its ruthless efforts to kill me.

Between that streak of light, and the cloud of darkness, there lies a semicolon.

It’s the most powerful symbol; the anchor of life.

When the waves of regrets and guilt and shame and disappointment and betrayal and self-loathing drag me further down into the deep, dark sea, I cling to the semicolon. I allow the wave to wash over me. It makes me breathless. It makes me believe that I don’t deserve this life. It whispers into my ears to let go of that semicolon. But from an invisible source, I receive a gentle instruction to hang in.

I listen to it.

We live through the phase of semicolon time and again. I hope we would be kind to ourselves when we take time to recover.

Our loved ones rest in that pause for a while. I hope we would hold their hands when the nightmares assault their souls.

We are all we have. I hope we would hold each other in our hearts.

“If you know someone who’s depressed, please resolve never to ask them why. Depression isn’t a straightforward response to a bad situation; depression just is, like the weather. Try to understand the blackness, lethargy, hopelessness, and loneliness they’re going through. Be there for them when they come through the other side. It’s hard to be a friend to someone who’s depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest, and best things you will ever do.”
— Stephen Fry


29 thoughts on “The Semicolon

  1. Deepika, how truthfully you have written this, straight from your heart. It makes my heart ache, and the beauty of your words wash over me, making me sigh in awe of your writing skills. And yet, every word pierces deeply, and leaves me wishing that I could do something to ease the anguish. God be with you, my dear!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Deepika, I have only seen you in photographs on your Facebook profile. No more, no less. And I suggest this with all the naivety and ignorance of not having a drop of understanding into You. Except, the fact that we are two fan girls who breathe and smell Muruga. So, I am sorry if I am unknowingly inflicting a(nother) wound somewhere. But maybe, it’s time you get the punctuation tattooed.

    Anyhow, when you emerge from the woods on the other side – in the hopes of catching up one fine day – I’ll be waiting with a hug.

    PS: You must know by now, that your choice of words and the intensity with which way you have woven this by your writing is what prompts me to react in the way I have.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Madhvi, Muruga never ceases to amaze me. I just finished chanting Kandha Sashti Kavasam, and Kumarasthavam. I fast every Tuesday. As I dropped the sloka book in my bag, I heard the notification sound, and it was your comment. And you have called us His fangirls. This is a beautiful blessing. Thank you!

      I love your suggestion. It will be a meaningful tattoo. Let me turn the thought in my head for a while.

      Thank you for being kind, Madhvi. Thank you for offering a hug. Someday, Kumaran will make us run into each other. We wouldn’t be surprised even if we spot each other in one of his abodes. Thank you for all the warmth! Thank you for all the love! Thank you! 💖

      Liked by 2 people

  3. On your blog after a really long time. We haven’t interacted much before, but reading this made my heart ache for you. I had no idea you were in so much pain. Circumstances make even the most positive people falter. You are brave for writing this about the darkest hours of your life. I am sure you’ll find your patch of sunshine soon . You are a sweet girl and deserve every bit of happiness life can offer you. Have you tried meditation? I highly recommend Isha’s Inner engineering. It’s just a week long and has made so much difference to my life. Keep at it and take care.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Experiencing that beautiful moment when you read something you have felt but never quite managed to put into words. I have a comfort song I listen to on bad days and good days called Tears & Laughter, which has a line that goes – happiness is a string of disasters. I don’t know if that offers you the consolation it offers me, but there’s always a smile around the corner even on the darkest days. Hope you keep finding yours.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I m an new follower to your blog. And reading this made me cry. There’s a quiet confidence in your writing that I am a fan of. So much so that I have never missed any of your posts so far. Even you book reviews are so lively. You inspire me to write better, read better. Keep going, you are brilliant n brave.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You are truly a gifted writer, Deepika. I hope that writing this has helped you a little bit. You are so brave to share these words. Know that I love reading your posts, no matter what you write about.

    Side note: I wonder have you read Matt Haig’s book about depression Reasons to Stay Alive? I’ve not read it but I’ve heard it’s really excellent. He is very candid about his experience with depression and the need for dialog about mental health.

    Also, you know what you wrote me the other day? I’m going to quote it back to you: You. Are. Okay. Love to you, Deepika.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for reading my posts, Laila. It means a lot. And writing this was cathartic. I felt so much better. There was an instant relief, and it is mysterious.

      I looked up the book, and it is just the right kind of book I want to read right now. I am surely going to read it.

      Many thanks for quoting it back to me. You are right. We. Are. Okay. More love to you, Laila. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh Deepika, many many hugs to you! I hope you are able to find a doctor who take you seriously and provide you with additional support and help. You are a very strong and brave woman, keep holding on to that semicolon.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sorry you are going thru this Deepika. You are such a positive person and always see the good things in nature & life. Keep on, Keeping on. Let your dog Boo and your bicycling help you in the days & weeks ahead. You are very talented & good a person, believe in that. just incremental tiny steps and you will get to where you want. take care

    Liked by 1 person

  9. All the hugs and love, Deepika!! 💜💕 Thank you for sharing! Wish you all the feathers and flowers and stories and hope they help a bit. You can always come to me to talk or if you need cat pics🐾🐱

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Just came across your blog and was completely touched by this post in particular. It’s just so brave how you have opened your deepest feelings and insecurities here without worrying who would potentially read it. Growing up, I was always scared to write about my feelings in a journal because I was scared someone who read it. Lots of hugs to you so you can walk through the storm with your head held high. Keep on writing!

    Liked by 1 person

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