Master of Disguise: A Story About Depression

Depression is a mental health disorder characterised by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life. It can cause a variety of symptoms— some which affect your mood, others which affect your body. Some symptoms of depression are inability to concentrate, fatigue, hopelessness, loss in interest in things you once enjoyed, and persistent sad, anxious or “empty” feelings.

 

 

“I’m sorry.”

In the movies, it’s always sad. Your family dies, and the world goes bleak. A thunderstorm rages outside and the lightning cuts through the pitch black. The dimly lit hospital hallway is empty, and the doctor comes outside and delivers the news, and you just break. You sob and heave, and then the shot pans out, and it fades to black.

 

It hurts so much more in the real world.

Summer had crept into the weather and flowers bloomed under its umbrella. Birds sang, children laughed and inside the busy, busy hospital hallway I was told that my parents didn’t make it. The beautiful weather outside could do nothing to make me feel better. I was 11 years old, and for the first time in my life, I was truly, completely alone.

 

In a half attempted display of pity, people always hug you and tell you it gets better. I can promise you; it doesn’t. The only person who was there for me, and just as shattered was my uncle. He took me in, but it just wasn’t the same. 

My heart had been shattered that summery July day, the blood pumping glass mosaic crumbling on itself without a sound. It never healed— taped together with a layer of false bravado; it ached with every step I took, and my brain didn’t help. The screams of hatred and disgust rattled my skull every day and grew bigger until I could not even imagine living for another second.

“You’re depressed,” my guidance counsellor had told me. I had scoffed in her face.

 

Although it took me a while to come to terms with the fact that I had  depression, the bullying didn’t make it any better. I wasn’t the happiest in school, and I didn’t see the point in showing otherwise. This brought on more bullying than kindness. My friends thought it’d be best to not talk to a bullied girl, and I felt the same loneliness that I did when my parents died. The bullying got so bad that I had to ask my uncle to get my school changed, and he did. 

 

Walking into a new school felt scary, for sure, but I was determined to make it a good year. I smiled at everyone who approached me and made sure no one could see my unhappiness. I talked to people but I always tried to suppress my thoughts. But as soon as I would step into my room after school, I would fall to the ground in tears.

 

I sat alone on the lunch table for the first few days, but then a boy approached me. He introduced himself as Ren and talked to me about different things— my time table, our classes, hobbies, and whatnot. I felt comfortable around him as we started hanging out more and more. He told me about how he had lost his best friend about a year ago, and I opened up about my parents. He consoled me, and I cried openly in front of him.

 

I’m nineteen now, but the depression is just as bad, if not worse. My uncle passed away, so I guess you could say I was born under a bad sign. The only person who has stayed by my side is Ren, and I will always be grateful for him. 

 

As I sit in this restaurant, I see someone — specifically, my mom. I shake my head and look back, only to notice that it’s someone else. I feel this dreadful feeling rise inside me, as I ask for the bill. The cold air makes me want to go back into the restaurant, but I can’t. It’s freezing, and the icy wind brushes past my cheek. God, I wish I didn’t have to leave that warm restaurant. 

 

I run to my car and sit there surrounded by silence for a minute. All of a sudden, I lurch forward. Someone hit my car. I turn around and see the car behind me back up— only to rush ahead to bump into my car again, harder this time. Has my convoluted death wish come to life? I don’t have time to think about that as I scramble for my keys and put them in the ignition— the old, half-dead vehicle whirring to life. This metal machine isn’t built for a car chase, but it would have to suffice today. 

 

I take off, giving no second thought to who this absolute maniac was. Why are they trying to kill me? Why is a 19-year-old college student, drowning in debt worth a criminal record?

 

Whoever this person was, he drove well, and he drove fast. I push the pedal, and I was off, racing through the empty streets with a car with murder on its mind, on my trail. I take a look through the rear-view mirror and recognise the vehicle. Although I have quite a few acquaintances, I know exactly who this car belongs to —my closest friend, Ren. I snaked my way through the roads, the adrenaline driving my body as he continued to follow. 

 

My car starts to slow down, and I’m surprised. There’s still fuel in the tank, why must you stop right now? As the car comes to a standstill, I feel nauseous. What have I ever done to him? What is going on? I feel questions circling my mind when I catch him stopping right behind my car. I pray, hoping it isn’t Ren, hoping that I had misunderstood the situation. But it’s Ren who steps out, and my heart sinks.

 

He walks to my car and stands beside the car door as if waiting for me to step out. I just roll down the window and wait for his explanation. He just stands there with a smug look on his face which disgusts me. 

 

“What are you doing, Ren?” I scream, not thinking about the fact that we’re out in public and people probably might stare. 

 

“Killing you, what else?” He says it in such a casual manner, it breaks my heart.

 

“What do you mean? You’re supposed to be my closest friend!” I say, but it’s almost as if he doesn’t care.

 

“I wanted you to think that. And it’s surprising that even after seven years, you don’t know who I am.” I stare at his face, confused about what he meant. Till an hour ago, he was my best friend, the only person I could turn to. Now, I don’t know who he is. 

 

“Your great grandfather was a thief. And my great grandfather owned an artifact, one that was worth billions of dollars. My family vowed to punish your family by exterminating your bloodline. Your parents dying was an absolute stroke of luck for us. But you survived, and I was adamant on taking you out. After all, you are a girl. How difficult could it be?”

 

I’m speechless. I have nothing left to say. I had heard some stories about this when I was young— funnily enough, I thought it was made up. Ren takes out a gun and points it at my head. Before he could fire his shot, I hear someone scream out, looking right at Ren. More and more people start staring in our direction. He mumbles something under his breath and then runs away, leaving me alone with my thoughts. 

 

I somehow get that car to start after half an hour and head home. Stumbling into my house after that car chase, I see a letter lying in front of my door along with the day’s newspaper. I pick both up and walk into the room. I sit the paper on the table and open the letter. 

 

‘You think you’re getting away with something but don’t worry, I will get you, and I will kill you.’ Great, a death threat— the only thing that was required right now. He was my closest friend, and yet, I can’t even trust him anymore. I fall to the ground, tears streaming down my face and my stomach feeling more and more hollow as each second passes. I’m not strong enough for this, maybe I’ll never be, but I don’t have a choice. Oh, how I wish I did. 

 

I walk into my room and open my closet and pull out the tab of Zoloft. I take one out and wash it down my throat. I place it back, knocking some papers out of my closet. As I stand up to put them back into my closet, my eyes find themselves locked onto an object—a blade. The thought of it running on my wrist takes over my mind, as I place the papers back and pick it up. I walk into the washroom with it in my hand. It’ll be good to get rid of these thoughts and feel numb, no thoughts in my head about whoever’s out to get me.

 

As soon as I am in the washroom, however, I walk to the toilet and throw it in. Without thinking, I flush it. What am I thinking? I can’t show any weakness, no matter how hard it might be. I could sleep if off, although the tiredness is going to stay regardless. Thank goodness for medication and the drowsy effect it holds, for I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. 

 

It’s still dark when I wake up to a noise I hear inside the house. I didn’t dare to get out of the bed. What if it’s just my mind playing tricks on me? Then, my bedroom door creaks open, and I know it’s not a trick. I try to spot the person, and I immediately realise who it is. He comes up to me and raises his hand, holding a knife in it. I jump up and tie his hands together with my blanket. The fact that he expected me to be asleep helps me run out, close the door and jam it. 

 

Running into the kitchen, I pull out a knife from a drawer as I hear the door jangle, and hear him scream. I walk into the living room, trying to find absolutely anything which might help me defend myself. Just then, it goes quiet—no shouting, and no jangling of the door. I find my hand stretching towards the door handle, wanting to check the room but I pull myself back. What if it’s a trick? What if they want me to come inside? Maybe I can use this to my advantage and call the police.

 

As I pick up the phone to call, a knock on the door surprises me. 4:49 AM is a certainly unusual time to be going to others’ houses. I look through the peeping hole, and it’s him. After the tricks he’s pulled in these past hours, who’d have known he would be so polite? I back away from the door, knife held tightly in my hand. I find myself thinking how they could’ve possibly reached outside, and immediately think of the window. Maybe living on the ground floor has it’s disadvantages, but I certainly didn’t feel like this would be one. Another knock and I look for anything which can be used as a shield. I hear a thud and see the door has been knocked down. Is he that powerful? He throws the knife at me, and I try to dodge it, but it gets me right in the leg. I scream, falling to the floor. I don’t even notice when he walks up to me and crouches down so that our eyes meet.

 

“You see, I’ve been planning to eliminate you ever since I got to know about you. I pretended to be your friend, and you fell right into my trap. You were just eager to be able to open up to someone that you forgot they could leave you too. Now that you’re finally here, crying out of anguish, do you have any last words before you die?” He smirks in front of me and takes the knife I had dropped. He holds it to my neck and waits for an answer. Anger boils inside of me at his words. I can’t believe I let him in. 

 

“You mention death as if it’s a bad thing, as if I haven’t wanted it for the past few years,” I say, before pushing myself back and kicking the knife out of his hand with my other leg. The look of surprise on his face felt like a million dollars as he ran at me. I dodged it and immediately stood behind him, hands wrapped around his neck to choke him to death.

 

I hear his breathing and his screams about how he doesn’t want to die, thinking about letting him go. After all, I don’t want to kill someone. I don’t want to be a murderer, but I realise if I listen to what he said, it’ll be my last day, and I’m not going out to the hands of some sleazy boy.

 

“You told me that I’d be an easy target since I was a girl. It’s a good thing you’re finally learning that you picked on someone your size.” I whisper into his ear as I feel him struggle harder. And then he stops— no movements at all. I feel for a pulse but find none. I place him on the ground as I look at his face. I’m overwhelmed by my emotions to the extent that I am somehow calm.

 

The sun’s rays hit his face. I look at the time. 5:37 AM. I bend down to shut his eyes, and I sit beside him. And just like that, the loneliness creeps back in.

 

If you or anyone you know has depression, you can contact the following helpline numbers, which are functional 24/7:

Vandrevala Foundation- 

  • Phone numbers: 1800-2333330 / 1860-2662345 
  • Email ID: help@vandrevalafoundation.com

AASRA- 

  • Phone number: 022-27546669
  • Email ID: aasrahelpline@yahoo.com

Written by Tanya Jain and Kaavya Azad for MTTN

Featured Image by Ritwika Sarkar for MTTN

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