Here’s what it feels like to be sad.
It comes on suddenly and without reason, which makes it scarier. It brings with it the fear of being a little bit crazy, a little bit irrational, and totally out of control. How do you fix something that you don’t understand?
I feel like I’m floating in sadness, like outer space. Just out of orbit, but also close enough to be pulled back in, if only there was someone who would reach out.
And then no one does—how would they know?—and I am falling, falling, falling into a deep and heavy sadness. It is muted, like being underwater or not being able to get your ears to pop. It is all-consuming, filling my thoughts and body, leaving me constantly exhausted. I feel sick and I wake every day dry-heaving. I have to stop my car one morning on the way to work so I can vomit in the middle of the road.
It feels like everything and nothing at the same time. Exhausting and inescapable, it never stops.
Days pass. The desire for others diminishes—there is no way to accurately explain what is happening, that I am emotionally out of my mind. And I cling to the only sense of control I have—my ability to force loneliness on myself. My life is spiraling and I am pushing everyone away.
A well-meaning somebody suggests that I can just stop, if I wanted, as if being sad is a choice I am making. I consider this—let it consume me—and now I am still sad, and I feel like a failure. I start to cry, for the first time since the sadness began, actually. It’s like breaking the seal when drunk, and now I can’t stop. I cry those loud, guttural sobs that shake your body and leave you spent.
I yearn for human contact, but fall apart when faced with the realization that, of course, all other life was carrying on without me and now I am behind. I am scared of being abandoned, but even more terrified of what others will say if I put this into words. The sadness grows, darkens, and hardens me.
I finally call you after 2AM, accusatory, disappointed, angry, and still sad. I am crying within seconds, I am at your door in minutes. “I just want to not be sad anymore.” You pull me into your bed and you hold me and the tears are still coming, but for the first time, I think that maybe it will actually be okay. Maybe I am not being crazy—or I still am, but maybe there is a solution after all.
I have a feeling it will get harder before it gets easier, and there are times when the scrap of hope you presented me with disappears. The sadness still engulfs me, and I know that, really, I am the only one who can save me. I am trying, which is more than before, I suppose. If anything, at least it is a start.