In most stories, when the main character becomes a ghost, they try very hard to send messages to the living. They get frustrated when they can’t, and they work on finding ways to affect the world despite their new state of being.
Some episodes of depression make me feel like this. I’m not on the same plane of existence as those around me, and it’s lonely. I want to communicate, but there’s a thick veil between me and the rest of the universe. Faintly, under the weight of the symptoms, this longing flickers and reminds me that there’s still something I want.
This isn’t how I feel now.
I feel like a ghost, but not that kind of ghost.
I feel like a ghost who’s been a ghost for a long, long time and is used to it.
Even as I write this, there’s a generous dose of unreality attached to the motion of my fingers…I observe rather than act. I am not really here.
I have not written. I have not cared much that I’m not writing, unlike other times when feeling blocked brings frustration or guilt. The essays I haven’t written flit around the streets of this ghost town, each with their title and premise. I see them, but they are no more real than I am.
I do and experience some “normal” things. I manifest anxiety and irritation in response to stressors, but a part of me is not present.
My knowledge and my observing ego still exist. I know that what professionals call “flat affect” can be a bad sign, and I know my current state might be this. My appointment with my psychiatrist is in a few days, and I will show up.
It is not obvious to most people around me that they are dealing with a ghost. I went to a meeting this morning, and carried on conversations, and even talked a little about the fact that my depression has been rising lately. I can talk to you, and move my face (usually) into appropriate expressions, and even (I think) care. But as soon as I’m not under direct observation, I fade again.
I even laugh if someone tells a joke. I play games with my family. But I’m really just another game piece–the “me” they think they are playing with is just an avatar, being moved around by the languid hand of the ghost.
Why am I writing this, then? Why would this kind of ghost try to form thoughts and record them this way? It’s taken me many days, and I am doing it in response to the part of me that knows being a ghost is most likely temporary. That part wants this description to exist for the same reasons I want my other writing to exist.
That part also insists on looking for evidence that I am not as much of a ghost as I feel myself to be. Its favorite clues are found in the library, where I sit and read while my daughter is in class. Though not writing, I read to kill the time…aha, says the inner detective; if you are a ghost why are you raiding the poetry section?
Why wouldn’t a ghost read poetry, I counter; ghosts observe humanity. And what is more human than poetry?
Reading, maybe, replies the detective. But three times I saw you hand-copy a poem from an anthology, onto the paper you use for your special storage. Why would a ghost bother to do that?
And so it goes, until I must acknowledge that this ghost is not totally cut away from our plane.
When the time, and the brain chemistry, are more suitable, I will look more deeply at what this state of consciousness means and what I can learn from it. Perhaps, later, I will be pleased with the new poets I discovered.