Living with Demons by David Macfie
This story is dedicated to all the people around the world, who are plagued with chronic depression.
I was a very small boy when I discovered my demons for the first time. They were pretty sneaky. They crept up on me when I was least expecting them. They made me sad and depressed and lonely. It was like nobody else in the world understood that I had demons and they did this stuff to me. When I was bigger, maybe just before I became big and was a teenager, I tried to hide from them. We had a big rockery and I used to make dens under large rocks and crawl in. I always had a peephole at the front so I could see what was happening in the garden. Nobody could find me in my best den…….except the demons. They drove me there when I was sad or hurt or depressed or feeling like nobody liked me or loved me. And to make matters worse they followed me there. I sometimes stayed there for hours, even a whole day once. Everybody was looking for me, but I still stayed there because my demons told me that the people were just pretending to be worried.
I also climbed trees to get away, but they followed me there too. One day, they had made me feel really bad, so I climbed nearly to the top of a very big sycamore tree. But they messed that up too. There was a Thrush’s nest up there, and the two birds were so mad they attacked me. They regurgitated and spat foul smelling stuff on me and shat on me until I came down feeling even worse and smelling terrible. To make everything about as bad as it could be, the smell took days to wash out so school was terrible too. The other boys said I must be sleeping with pigs to smell so bad. So that just proves demons can be really creative when they want to make you feel sad and lonely and unloved and depressed. However bad you feel, they do stuff to make it worse.
I was bad with people, because I didn’t trust them and they made me feel awkward. I had lots of acquaintances but never more than one or two friends at a time. I found that the best way to keep the demons away was to be by myself so I studied a lot and said I must do well as an excuse not to mix. Eventually, I went to university, where I made no friends at all, only acquaintances. All through, the demons caught up with me, when I least expected it. I suffered regular bouts of extreme depression. But I survived by searching inside myself for ways to cope with their depredations. I found that solitude helped me to focus on rejecting them. Just like when I was a kid, I used to hide when I was depressed. I didn’t want people saying, “What’s wrong? You seem out of sorts today.” Because I knew they weren’t really interested and they wouldn’t understand about my demons anyway.
I got better and better at hiding. It got so I could hide even in a room full of people. I just withdrew deep inside myself. It wasn’t a very good solution, and the one ‘Trick Cyclist’ I went to tried to talk me out of it. Something about having deep seated unresolved issues with my father. That was ridiculous. He’d been dead for twenty years by then. But, my solution worked for me most of the time.
By now I was working and doing well at my job. Because I could be tightly focused, I could do things others couldn’t. I was married with kids. My family was opposed to the marriage. They said she wasn’t right for me. I thought I could make it work, but I was wrong. It was wrong and the marriage was broken pretty much from the start. In the end we stayed together, doggedly and stubbornly, for nearly twenty years. We persevered – for the children.
Around about then, I lost my job – I was, what they call these days – constructively dismissed. This made things worse in the marriage. Eventually, the marriage was poisoning all of us so I left and got a divorce. All through this time, the demons chased me. I even thought, often, of just ending it all. I might have gone through with it too, if I could have worked out how to do it without invalidating my life insurance.
The divorce messed me up a bit and changed my attitude to the world. I had put up with a failed marriage for so long that my tolerance for misery and unhappiness was at zero. The demons had got me again and now they had my first lot of kids as well. None of them reacted well to the divorce. My new motto became, “I won’t take shit anymore.” It wasn’t a good life decision and, through my own stupidity, I messed up quite a lot of things, including my pension.
My bouts of depression have continued and I am now in my declining years. The demons still get me and I’ve been knocked down a lot. I often feel like a serial failure, who has had no real successes in life. And then I get depressed and I wonder where it all went wrong. Perhaps the demons are part of me. Perhaps I’m the reason for all this. Perhaps, if I’d managed to kill them when I was young, I wouldn’t still be pestered by them now. But that could just be make believe. The demons are there and they’ve always been there.
But you know, after all this time, I think I’ve got them beaten at last. Because every time they knock me down and make me feel sad and lonely and depressed and even suicidal, guess what? I just get back up, reinvent myself and try again.
I figure they’ll give up before I do.