Driving through the night to find a friend, his brother called me up to say his family had lost him, and they wondered if he was with me. This is a smart man, a strong man, with a good heart, and he had called his father in tears earlier because he felt broken, that there was no solution. People would trust this man with their lives, and he's never let them down, never shown any hint of the inner turmoil which has been building for years.
Breaking point came quite recently, a chance call by me just after new years found him driving in the dark because he needed to flee, because he was in so much pain that sitting in one place felt too much of a burden, and it took everything in me not to go and find him straight away then. I waited through the night by the phone, awake, afraid he may do something even more extreme, and I would lose my friend.
By sunset the next day I still hadn't heard from him, and my caution toward interference had burned away, leaving a cold hard resolve to find some answers. I went to find him, he was out of town, working elsewhere, so I had to do some tracking and luckily, then.. when I was most of the way there, he let me know by mobile he was okay. Feeling better, in his words. And as I blinked away the relief, the adrenaline faded and the exhaustion of the night caught up with me.
I told him I was near his town, and he drove out to meet me at the petrol station. It was dark, he pulled up and fuelled his car, and I went and got some coffee inside to try and wake myself up a little.
We die a little inside each time we despair. It's not like the other emotions. Actually, truth be told it's not an emotion at all: it's the pit at the end of suffering filled with acid, and a person can tell. Within themselves they can tell, something is wrong, something is dying, something irreversible is happening, and if it goes on too long then nothing of the soul is left. Massive Clinical Depression is a cakewalk by comparison, and trust me, I can tell you how serious clinical depression is through experience.
But despair, despair is worse.
You're not just dead inside, you're experiencing dying, and nihilism is your constant companion. Reason lies to you. Your emotions are blunted and hard, or sharp and jaggedy, distraction is the closest you can get to relief, and talking to others is an empty trek through an obstacle course, a masked ball of alien dances where all your partners are ugly and suspicious, but wear such beautiful facades.
You want to be away, you want to rest. You want *something* to change. Anything. But nothing does, and you just get older, day by day.
I hug him when I see him. His body is surprisingly frail. I feel like I could lift him with one arm, my friend who carries the burdens and lives of so many others. He finishes refueling his car, and I abandon mine temporarily to talk with him for a little while. We drive towards where he works. It's a nice car. I can see why he likes it, and say so as slowly he begins to open up.
When emotion is gone, and reason can't help you, your life is curiously flattened.
The stuff you learned is accessed through habit but the cleverness and creativity with which you won the knowledge is gone, so you hate entering new situations, desperate to escape your daily life. His voice has a tinny metal edge to it. A little like he's rehearsed each word individually in each sentence and then strung them together to speak them in an acceptable order. The emotion appears there, but it's synthesized; he knows what he's supposed to feel, but he's wearing a mask - and believes nothing is under it.
That was New Years Day, barely a week later and he's disappeared. Now I'm going to see him again, he's broken down and lost in the dark.
I have to find him, and convince him to get help.