World Premiere: Ren Hang’s Journal of Depression
Renowned Chinese erotic photographer Ren Hang committed suicide on February 24 in Beijing. He was 29.
Ren Hang kept an account of his long-term struggle with depression under a menu item titled ‘My Depression,’ on his website. His journal spans from the years 2007 to 2016.
Ren Hang’s complete journal of depression, originally written in Chinese, is published for the very first time in English by
The previous days I found a new solution to calm myself down. To make myself fall is a way to counter depression. Every time I touch the ground I will lay still. Pedestrians, vehicles, they can all trample over my body, run over me. Moreover, during this time, my consciousness will become sober, wisdom and memory’s power will seem to be enhanced. All of the concerns of this matter will come clearly into view, even to the extent that I will recite the words that the persons from the Communist party say. In 1997, Bai Baoshan [one of China’s deadliest serial killers] said while he was in prison: “When I get out, I am going to kill. If I am sentenced to 20 years, when I get out I am going to kill adults. If I am sentenced to life imprisonment, I will reduce the penalty and go out and change my mind from killing the adults, to going straight to the kinder garden to kill the children.”
I have always been able to hear the sound of the shooting. In the beginning I was a little bit afraid. After a long time, I got used to it. That sound is like some people are hammering a nail in my head. There seems to be a construction site, someone wants to cover skyscrapers, they cover them for so many years, but yet, they did not cover them well. A lot of homeless people are crying inside my head, ah, trouble, ah. They will not let me sleep, also, they will not let me go. Not sleeping is OK, not going is OK. Anyway, go out everyday, put on carefully selected clothes, and when someone looks in the mirror, everyone thinks he looks like he is going to his own funeral, negativism is so grand. Every destination is like for mourning yourself and everyone is rushing to their mourning hall.
I am also afraid to go out and hear those concerns and questions: “You look so happy, how can you be depressed?” “I think you have something worth being depressed for. I am also depressed.” “You are always so hypocritical”, “You are so pretentious again.” …These sounds compared to the ones from my head are easily making me feel nervous. There are two or more people involved in the interpersonal relationships and I either keep talking or either remain silent. All of the social pretentious are easily making me feel exhausted.
For so many years I have been continuously treating myself. One person divides the role of the doctor and the patient, sometimes the doctor heals the patient, sometimes the patient can also heal the doctor. Life has completely changed into a hospital. Everyday I have to go inside in different wards. The people outside don’t come in and I can’t go out by myself.
Evening, insomnia. When I close my eyes I see myself using a multitude of methods to kill my own picture. I am scared, so I put all of the sharp items from my house inside a locked drawer. There is a big pair of scissors that doesn’t fit in. I immediately threw it out of the window along with the key [the drawer’s key]. I stayed a while in the bed and sweated, the body has fever, I started to think it’s cold. I think I am bleeding. Every joint is so soft that it seems it’s like an opened wound. Every person is suddenly like an enormous wound. I want to wrap myself up. I want to take a big dose of pills.
A critical time. I have always thought that in front of the big building there are people that are following my head, trying to aim through the window. At any time they can give me a shoot. Seeing any object, they all appear to me like a weapon. The leaves outside seem like blades, as well as the hanging branches. The spoon from the table seems like a dart, like a weapon, Coca-Cola seems like a grenade. I don’t dare to eat and I also don’t dare to drink. I am sitting on a chair. The chair seems that it’s going to break immediately into pieces. I lay on the coach. The coach seems that it’s going to sink immediately. I want to leave, but every step seems like a cliff. Every step is as difficult as falling into the abyss. I ran to the side of the road. All of the pedestrians changed into a variety of flower vases. I wanted to go buy a bouquet of flowers and give to every opened vase one. But this world is not at all going to be a bit beautiful only because of this. I still want to go to buy a hammer to kill a man. It’s as easy as breaking a vase of flowers. It’s like this insipid life can also kill people. At least I can kill myself, the invisible.
The tiles of the floor seem like a dental prosthesis that is shining in the dark. The illusion of rebirth made me feel dizzy for some time. I often imagine myself in such an experience, of rebirth. Every person will have this sensation. For example, before going to sleep I often imagine that my mouth is filled with hydrogen. I am slowly becoming relaxed, soft and swollen, like cotton is stuffed inside my mouth trying to stop the infection. Finally, everyone is changing into a big piece of cotton that is floating in the middle of the air. Sometimes the body and the bed float together. Sometimes the body and the bed separate with each other while flying. Sometimes only the body is floating.
Also, during insomnia I very often think that I am filled inside with a great physical strength. This power controls me. It doesn’t let me do anything. I can’t go and do anything. There is a method: to put your watch near your ear. Let the heart beat to synchronize with the one of your watch. Occasionally, you can get a bit of relief. Sometimes, because of the fact that time flies, you can’t do anything further. Sometimes, during the night time, there is a time where night is silent, other times it’s deafening. When you are going to feel that, you will think that you are the only person alive in the world, but in that time you will think that the only man in the world is dead. You sneak into darkness. The light around lights up, you are in a field. The day is overcast.
But you are never really convinced of what is fair. You are willing to be covered with a weight, to throw yourself in the river. You’ve taken part in this world that you seemed to be separated by a layer. Sometimes it’s like fog, sometimes it’s like a piece of glass, sometimes it’s like a wall, sometimes it’s like a mountain, sometimes they appear separated even a bit of time and space. You seem lonely as the shadow of Sheng Bi [Chinese inventor of the world’s first movable type technology]. You go to touch it. I asked a lot of people later and I realized they are not the same as me. But life is not like this, that’s it, in short time it’s not going to be what you want. Just like when you want to smoke, but you don’t have any cigarettes. When you have cigarettes, you don’t have a lighter. When you have a lighter, you don’t have fire. When you have fire, you don’t want to smoke. Pain and boredom are normal. Happiness and luck are making yourself to lose control. Rushing makes people tired. Coziness makes people frightened. Accepting one’s fate is probably the best and only thing you can do.
I can not get up after I sit. I sat on the bed, I sat on the sofa, I sat on the toilet, on the steps, on the floor, just sitting. Am I happy or not happy? Am I sad or not sad? I am talking to myself. The content of my inner discussions are about whether I should or I shouldn’t get up, or lie down. Most of the time I will lie down. From the outside it may look like I am about to fall. I feel old in these moments that have passed. My face is flat. It’s like a lake. The breeze is blowing and creating waves. This feels so real… I can reach out and reach for those gullies. I can feel the touch of the water step by step. My bones are beginning to get soft. If you see me, you can’t only use the term “one”. “One” or “the one” to quantify me. You can only use a pile, a beach or a ray to quantify me. I feel that I have become very small, but it’s better than nothing. I can not tell you about my feelings. I am afraid that I might treat you with hypocrisy. In fact, there is not an exact word that I can use to express myself. I even started to invent new languages. But I often forget the language that I have just created because they don’t have any logic to follow up. I am struggling everyday to forget and to come up with new ideas. But struggling also needs strength. Finally, I even struggle with the decision of giving up. I have adapted to obey just like a dice that is rolled over and shows the same number every time. In the end you realize that each side of the dice is exactly the same. I am most familiar with the ceiling from my room. It’s like my sky, a white sky. There is no pleasant change in my sky. I imagined that my neighbor from upstairs is living in heaven with the gods. I am curious if the gods have to set every morning an alarm clock. I do not have any tools to keep track of time.
I just throw a stone into the dark everyday. I have never received any echo. If life is a bottomless abyss, then when I fling myself, the endless fall is also a kind of flying.
One evening night, after I got home, I was lying in bed and the moonlight that was entering through my window cast a shadow on the wall. The entire room seemed like a prison. I have always thought about it, but I have never understood. How do I keep myself locked in a prison? I suddenly felt that every time I go out I am like a prisoner that is allowed to go in the yard to exercise. I am often afraid to go out. But I only decided to go out once. I gave myself a good winding up. I never show my symptoms in front of my friends. Even if my inexplicable nervousness, anxiety, panic. Even if you are occasionally tired or out of a sudden you become tired, I, in my mind, search for a variety of ways in which I can be ready to respond at any time. But be careful, there is also a sudden turn up in this winding situation. I watched my friends jumping on the dance floor with so much fun. I suddenly believe that I couldn’t. I have always been a disappointing person. I am afraid my friends will see this, how shallow I am. How much I want to change it. But in that time, the warmer the atmosphere my heart became estranged. It seems now that all of the lights can not find me. I stay alone inside of a coffin. The music that I hear, along with them [the people] is not the same. I hear the music. Why is it so sad? Every capital [country capital] is like a mourning song. I told myself that I think so because I drink too much wine or I don’t sleep enough. I silently went to the toilet to cry. I cried so much that I’ve been waiting for them to come from downstairs and knock on the door. I shouted and I did not know what I was saying. The idea that someone could come and knock on the door vanished soon. I slowly calmed down. I looked down to the toilet. I felt that I was sitting above a well. They, from deep inside, were calling my name non-stop. At first, it was man calling, later, many people were calling me together. It may be an echo. At that time I really wanted to jump inside. Everywhere in an abyss. No one can really experience my pain and it’s because of the very fact that there is no one that can really comfort me.
I wake up every morning thinking. Why am I alive? I live with this question. But I do not get any answers.
Every time I’m in the subway there I have an impulse to fling myself.
I look up
I look down
When the sun rays
I don’t want to shine
They shine on me
When it’s time to go on the road
But the road doesn’t seem like a road
I am still
Once I lived in my friend’s house. Why couldn’t I sleep at night? First, I laid on the bed and then I laid on the floor. In the end I was sitting on a chair, starring at two stretched curtains. I felt that someone was standing behind me with a rope at my neck and then grabbed my neck with his fingers. I couldn’t breathe. I am trembling, but I did not shed a sweat. The skin was so cold that my consciousness was awake, but my body was long asleep.
I stand up to pull the curtains. I climbed on the windowsill. I always thought that I have never lost the most rational thing. But in that time I thought that my death is near. So far away from anything else. I can’t ponder about it. I thought that only death exists. Death is the only thing that I can obtain extremely easy. Death makes me feel like my life isn’t worth any stake at all. This kind of feeling is making me feel so safe, so real. I am not afraid, not even a little. When you feel that all the lights light up, that all the roads end, you will not be afraid at all, you won’t hesitate a bit to go up.
My friend suddenly opened the door. He saw that half of me was outside the window. Scared, he immediately knelt near the door crying and asking me to come down. I am also crying. Everytime, when I’m in this kind of situation, I can not stop crying. I am crying and talking to myself. I give myself all the positive reasons worth living for. Try to see yourself through someone else’s eyes. In the eyes of others, how can I be normal? Tell yourself that you can’t use your body as a weapon [to kill yourself], that the adventure of life does not refer to violence.
But afterwards, I talked to my friend and she said she didn’t wake up that night. Also, she did not witness that I wanted to commit suicide. She said it was an illusion and she kept saying that she didn’t know anything.
After that and after a long time, I was always alone, silent, secretly imitating people’s lives. Also, since that moment, I started taking medicine. I told the doctor: “Sometimes I feel like flying all the way up.” Sometimes I was falling, sometimes I stopped at the top, sometimes at the bottom, but that did not last for long. He gave me two kinds of drugs. One is made out of red capsules, the other is made out of white pills. He told me that I should take the red one before I eat and after I eat I should take the white one. Actually, using those pills did not bring me any improvement, but they helped me get some peace. But sometimes, I took the wrong medicine. Once I thought I am under the earth, when in fact we are above the earth. After I took one red pill I felt that I was lying in bed watching football, and also that I spit in the face of the football fans and they burn each other with a lighter. Since then I have never ever watched a sport event. I turned on the lamp and I felt dizzy, I turned it off and I thought it’s too dark. I turned on the air conditioner. It’s to dry. I closed it and it’s too cold. I want to go downstairs, but I am afraid to wait for the elevator. Even if I wouldn’t fear to wait for the elevator, I fear that inside there are people. I fear that they can see me. I am more afraid that other people are going to see me. For a few hours I didn’t know what I was doing. I want to do something, but I am afraid of anything.
Half a month later, the first thing I did after waking up in the afternoon was searching for medicine. The situation makes me panic even more, that feeling of forgetting to take medicine… I just can’t do anything. I will explode at any time. In fact, I want to return to reality, but reality is ridiculous. When I found out that I started to rely on drugs, I immediately stopped taking them. So when you tell me about this absurd period of time, I don’t miss it at all. I choose to stay and truly believe in my crash. But this is my best skill, the that helps me survive: to accept it.
I was in the supermarket yesterday
Stole a toothpaste
The day before yesterday I blocked my neighbor’s keyhole
With a chewing gum
Last week at the park’s gate
There was a row of trash cans
And I kicked them all
Every time I did a bad thing
I felt that life
Became a little better.
It’s been while and I didn’t have these kind of feelings anymore. I am sitting on the sofa. The white milky sofa seems like a desert. Am I a camel or a cactus? I don’t have a hunchback as a camel or thorns as a cactus. I really don’t want to go out. Who [from the people outside] is going to look at me with dignity? I don’t want to participate to any party. When I am finally lively, I am afraid that soon I am going to be quiet again. When I was quiet, I was afraid that I would scream. A glass of wine can make me act very smooth, lively, but it also makes me slip at any time. Rolling down the stairs seems like doing aerobics. This does not compare to the feeling of being hurt by people. This feels safe. Every scar, bruise, just like the pills, takes actual shape and I do not longer fear.
If I lay down, I spend in bed up to 15-20 hours a day. Sometimes I feel like lying on the mattress. Sometimes I feel like lying under the mattress, sometimes in the actual middle of it. I am surrounded by rows, like a maze and I can’t find the exist. This is as hard as falling asleep.
I always feel that the door is not locked and that someone is ringing at the doorbell. But I did not install a doorbell at my house at all. I always hear my phone ringing and once I picked it up to see who is it and I realize that my phone didn’t ring at all, but I felt that it was vibrating. I don’t want to answer to any phone calls, but in fact no one phoned me. Curiosity and panic coexist.
I hesitate an hour to decide whether to go out or not. I don’t dare to go outside. I feel like everyone is spying on me, everyone knows me, everyone is talking about me. I want to hear what are they saying. Forced to eavesdrop, I can’t even feel the sound of the pain any longer. Someone is walking in the room. I simply can’t stop. This body… is in the end something I can control.
I forced myself to lie down, not to think about anything, not to do anything. Hungry when eating, thirsty when drinking, sleepy when sleeping, but I am not hungry, I am not thirsty, I am not sleepy. I keep my eyes opened, looking at the ceiling. Sometimes the fine lines on the ceiling will fly up. It makes me feel comfortable, although there is a feeling of seasickness.
My eyes will suddenly be blind and stabbed by light. The light is slowly fading away. I can see it like a meteor flying towards me, faster and faster, closer and closer. It immediately hits my head and in an instant it turns to ashes.
It feels sometimes that thousands of forces are riding on my body. They are not there to fight, but to play a variety of wonderful instruments. This music made me quiet for a while, but when I was over with searching for a similar song, they began to repeat the same mistakes. They come from a very low place, but they won’t let me go to hell.
I look on the ceiling
The ceiling becomes higher
I sit on the couch
The couch becomes very thick
I go on the road
The road becomes wide
I am never sure
The world is zooming in
Or am I closing in
I messed up two parties last night. First I went to a friend’s house to eat barbecue. I sat on a rocking chair on the terrace and I was feeling that I can start flying at any time. My bottom was like a spring that was going to help me pop out from the rocking chair. Even rocking chairs want to help me to commit suicide. I really try to be happy, to think about happy things, but are the things that happened to me really happy? They are all busy moving tables, washing the vegetables, cooking the meat, heating up the place and I tried so hard to do something. I thought about talking with them several phrases. But I am afraid to say a word. But even the most ordinary words like “good”, “not good”, “want” or “do not”, I am afraid to tell. I told myself that I must go now. I went to the elevator and I started feeling that I am about to faint. I looked at the elevator. The door opened and it seemed like a guillotine. How could I not dare to go in? I am not usually scared of death. But then, when I was so close, how can I be afraid of that? I have always known that I really don’t want to die, but I didn’t know what I want for sure. Finally, the only possibility is going down the stairs. From the 27th floor to the first floor, a total of 382 steps.
At another friend’s house I just collapsed on the sofa. They had some guests sitting on chairs, some sitting on the ground; there is someone who is sitting on the weighing scale. They are talking about work and love. I can understand everything I see and listen. But I can only think about the pain in my mind. I kept asking myself. In the end, what is painful? They gave me hot water [It is very popular in China to drink hot water. In fact, they always drink hot water before or after meals.], they gave me blankets, they didn’t tell me anything bad. You are not a sad movie, nor a sad song. In a few days it’s going to be fine. I only know that I may never be better. Depression will always follow me, just like my dog. But I never chained it. I really hope that this dog is going to find an owner or to go wander.
Or die soon.
Every time I cross the bridge
I am afraid of myself
That I might jump into the river
I touched the bridge’s stone lions
The sun was shining upon me
It’s a bit hot
I know that in the end is going to be cold
I know that I am crossing this bridge
But is not necessarily to be that one.
I am afraid to go out
Walking on the streets
I think everyone’s bag
Is not filled with money
But with a knife
Some people want to use money to buy a knife
Some people want to use a knife to steal money
Bought a knife and then grabbed more money
Grabbed the money and then bought a bigger knife
I sit on the edge of the road
Afraid to cry
For a short time, when the hallucinations are serious, you will see a lot of strangers at home and hear a lot of strange sounds. Once I returned home and in the filled room there was a man with a black shirt brushing his teeth. I bowed my head and I no longer dared to stare at it. I was sitting at the door for two hours waiting for my mind to wake up but I still think that the scene was very real. And once, for several nights, I felt that next door were living two horses. I could hear them neighing at night and their heart beating. Every day when I came home I was very cautious not to wake them up. Then, one day, my friend came to my house to live with me. I said to him that “my neighbors from next door are two horses. They are continuously sleeping. Don’t take a bath tonight. The sound of the bath is too loud. If we speak or walk, the sound may wake them up. I haven’t taken a bath for three days.” My friend told me that I am crazy. I said that they are not ordinary horses. They speak the language of people, and they will lay down to sleep. At first, he thought that I was joking, but my face was becoming more and more serious. He said that I am crazy. I didn’t know how to explain these things to him. After that, he never lived in my house anymore.
Recently, I have been feeling very often that things are enlarged several times. Light and dust have a specific shape, a needle seems able to reach my fingers, the bubbling soda table is like a volcanic eruption. From the window of my car you can only see the wheel like a planet, with my pain as the axis. Turning at high speed, I feel that the carrier of my pain seems to be farther and farther away from me; it has been driving without stopping.
Depression is like a car. I always have motion sickness, I’m always vomiting, I’m always worried that one day I will be in a car accident.
Today in the bus
I met two Christians
They kept saying how God is kind
Nonstop advising me
I told them
But if God is so kind
I will be unborn at once
And I won’t live anymore in the present.
Every day, going out seems like going to battlefield. My heart knows that every thing that I do is the best worst plan I made. And sometimes I will think about the bright side. But can I think of the best outcome of something when it comes from a bad choice? Every man you see looks like he or she is going to see his or her lover or enemy. Short version, don’t relax. Even if you are familiar with friends, even after a while I still get embarrassed. I don’t know how to start, what to say, or maybe I should not say anything. Shame fits my name, it’s my twin. You see him laugh, more shame, you see him cry, more shame, you see him and it’s all because of him, because he made the situation shameful. I think it’s all because of me. I am afraid that others may call my name. I am afraid to call someone’s else name. Each name is so heavy that I can’t get up. I can never focus on others. I can’t speak with other people for more than two minutes, I become absent minded. I begin to be tense, to fear. I begin to fear that I can not remember so much information, or that I can’t focus and can’t always expect to try to make a dialogue in the shortest time possible to solve the situation. When I speak, I never look the other person in the eyes. I always look at my feet, my shoes, my shoe laces, at the pattern from the floor, the road, the chewing gum spit on the street and the cracks. I always bow my head. I never want to look up. The ground is for me the sky. I feel like a kite, fluttering.
Sometimes I wonder why so many people let me be depressed. I can not be reconciled. I can get better. I can also be OK. I try to let myself know myself. I force myself to think even the most simple things. For example, walking is possible if you have legs. Talking is possible if you speak out the words. I try to make everything simple, to get to their original form. I remind myself that to face and cope with everyday life is something I have to do. Sometimes it is too difficult for me. If walking is not walking, walking is 1, talking is 2, eating is 3, sleeping is 4, but this will not be better, all of the details are omitted. There are only numbers in life. To live is like a musical notation, but to walk or walking… to walk requires to learn how to walk, to first repair the road, to wear shoes, to wear pants, to wear clothes and sometimes to wear a hat and sometimes to meet the wind. To go against rain sometimes it means to slip, to slip. These things make me think of the dark. I can not sleep, I can not fall asleep to wake up. I curled up in the quilt and I don’t want to go out. I am sick, I am anxious, I am irritable, I feel too ugly, I am still young, but in a few years, I’ll be old. I am afraid of diseases, but also afraid of infectious diseases. I feel that my little finger will swell up. I begin to use cream for it. I think that the space between my teeth has pork meat. So I begin to use my tongue to remove it, to instigate it, to brush it, to gargle, until finally the toothpick will make the flesh bleed. I think that I can not touch my back. This is surely not an illusion. I tried again. I really can not touch it. It’s like a desert. I actually carry every day a wilderness. One day I was out of control in the middle of the street. I saw all the vehicles and the crowd is gradually smaller and then dispersed in every direction, every sound dispersed. The sky is about to fall. Is like an inverted sea. The plane is flying in the water, the birds are flying in the water, the flies and the mosquitoes are flying in the water. Their flying posture seems like a hippo. They raise their heads up, their small feet are crooked, they hit straight and this immediately seems like the character for “to fly”. [Note, these sentences and words in Chinese are like a description of the character 飞, which means “to fly”. The author refers to the legs of the character, which at first reminds him of a hippo and then starts describing the character viewed as a fly.] I can see their feet. Even if it’s only the sole of their feet, I can still recognize them. Finally calming, coming to the side of the road waiting for the tsunami, or a pot of cold water poured directly on my forehead. I feel my body bursts into numbness. I told myself this is the darkest moment. There will be no darker moment than now. And after this moment they are all going to be bright. I will no longer feel this pain. This really had a bit of effect. Although in my heart it’s very clear that this is only a temporary self-comfort.
Life is indeed a precious gift, but I always believed it was sent to the wrong person.
I want to talk with everyone, but first with myself, with my friends from around, with the restaurant waiter, with the courier, with the taxi driver. I never want to seat into the co-pilot position. I am afraid strangers will talk with me. I don’t want to talk, to ask anything. I do not know anything, do not tell me anything. I do not want to know anything. Why repair the road? Why repair the bridge? Why are they walking so happy on it? Why don’t they want to jump? It’s like they are queuing just as if for a security check. [reference to the security check in China where you have to stay in line at the security checks in order to enter museums, the subway, etc.] And one by one, just like the fruits of autumn, they will have to fall down. The next morning, a cleaner was there to sweep the trash like sweeping the leaves and sweeping the snow. I can not sweep anything. I can only sweep everyone’s happiness. This time I felt that I can’t even take a needle. I can’t even do a little effort with my hand. I can not walk. My feet are not mine. This time, I will lose the entire time concept, but the sense of space has become very keen. My skin is not mine, it’s like a lizard, or some kind of amphibian. It’s peeling off. I just want to lie down, let myself stretch, feel like I’m extending indefinitely. My body is like a rope constantly being stretched. I want to rescue the people trapped in the abyss. All people fall into depths. But I can’t help myself. My life is a bottomless pit. I can only fall. I still don’t go out. I was very well at home, although sometimes I was suddenly screaming, jumping out like a cat that had it’s tale cut. Every day I was carrying the other half of my tail, wagging it around. How can people not feel embarrassement? I will start crying more often. Crying, I will give my friends a telephone and I will tell them that I am feeling extremely unhappy. I really don’t want this. I don’t want to see anyone. Listening to a distant familiar voice is not going to make me feel any better. Afterwards, I will regret that I didn’t give that phone call. But I really don’t know what I should do. I hung up the phone and then I am afraid it might ring again. I am afraid to be asked “Why do you want this? Isn’t life very good to you?”.
I am always inexplicably angry, I am inexplicably frustrated and then somehow inexplicably happy. That time is more frightening. That type of pleasure that has been floating in the air. How can I not fall down? I laughed so much that I started having cramps. I want to give a smile. I want to accompany this world with a smile. I feel ridiculous. I would rather let the pain bring me down. I feel that everything is boring. The pain is more boring. But it can at least let me lay quietly for a while. But with silence, self-doubt will start. I always think that there is an important thing hasn’t been done. But I can’t remember in the end what is was. I always think that I am either deaf or blind, or I am also limping or I am paralyzed. Every day I try to find a lot of information on the Internet about whether or not I am going to be disabled. I also thought about suicide. I want to die, but I want to live more. Sometimes I do not want to interact with anyone. If I see something, I immediately think it’s unnecessary. I am unnecessary. For a while, I didn’t dare to go home, to look in the mirror. I am completely crumbled on the bed. I begin to cry and I rub my eyes and nose with a girl’s sleeve. She is telling me that it’s OK, that she understands me. She also had this feeling. But I think no one can understand. Even I can not coherently know how this tastes like. I will never know when it came. It means too much… too many tricks. I have tried for a long time to identify what this is. I have been swallowed by it. I only remember that she was wearing a white purple flower dress. Then I woke up and I didn’t know where she went. I do not even remember her looks and her name. I opened my eyes and I saw on the windowsill a flower pot just like her skirt. In that moment I wished I was a flower, or even a flower embroidered on a skirt. Someone outside the door, while sitting with my friends, told me that I have depression, but I shouldn’t worry. After I cry I will be better.
I used to think that depression can get better. I believed that until now. But I now know that it’s gone, and no matter how far it is, it’s going to be back.
I think there are two types of depression. One type is benign, just like mine, and occasionally you fall into it. But it’s definitely you’re not going to hurt yourself or other people. When the most serious time comes, there will be a trace of reason. The day before yesterday I was sitting on the side of the road, sick. I laid in the parking lot. How can I get up when the sun is blocking my eyesight? I am crying, shaking, I think I was originally an ice cube. But I had to melt so fast that I couldn’t recognize my shape. I feel all the wheels running over my feet. I feel lame, but I can’t explain too clearly why. I can walk. I can run. I can immerse into the crowd at the subway. Although these days my body seems like a lame piece, my body is very stable, wearing fit shoes to go where I want to.
The other type of depression is malignant. Malignant will hurt themselves and if they are not careful they will hurt others. So you have to go to the hospital to cure yourself and you already need to start taking medicine and you already don’t want to go the doctor or take medicine. But now I can imagine the future and that no one will be concerned about depression. They treat depression as a mental illness, but depression is not a mental illness. I think that people that want to treat themselves are no longer afraid of it. And some people treat depression as a way of life. They say about me that I have depression, that I want to kill myself. And then, while eating potato and drinking Coke, I read people’s comments about it. They think they are pretty cool. They don’t understand what depression is. They think depression is beautiful and maybe sometimes you should get some love. They think to have a depression is to be afraid to go out during night time at the bar and to be afraid to talk with strangers. But depression will not make you beautiful, it will not let you get any love. It will only scare your love. You can only see all lights being extinguished. Do not fear depression and do not take it as an earring. Everyone says that you have a hole in your earlobe, a hole in your heart. Everyone has a hole in their heart, but not every hole is caused by depression.
When the mood is bad, you see who is pleasing to the eye, but you never say it. When the mood is good, no one is pleasing to the eye. They also never say it. They always think you are going to be crazy tomorrow. You always think they are not normal today. Anyway, on the surface they are a set. And sometimes you play with that set. They are more powerful than you and behind them there is a set of you. They are talking upstairs. They are talking about you. Talking about your past, your friends, they are pointing towards you. Their hair is close to your face. The provocation – you are not afraid. You put their hair as a willow, like your spring is coming soon. Maybe your spring is coming soon. So don’t be depressed. They are looking at you. They want to see you fall. But you have to show them how beautiful life is. There is beauty even when you can’t tell what hurts you.
I always feel that the water tape is not closed. One day I will be searching for keys, mobile phones, wallets and other times some people will appear while I eat and I will remember that I have to go home. I forgot my wallet, my family’s water tap is running. If I don’t run my house will be flooded. The downstairs neighbours will come because of my trouble. No one wants to die so early, so young, so inexplicable. I want to live, to live. I want to stand up. I don’t want to lie down. I don’t want to die. At least, I don’t want to die so early. I am afraid of sleeping. Anyway, I can not sleep. I am awake. I want to see. I looked at myself in the mirror. I am becoming more and more another person. A person that I have never seen. It’s like when you haven’t seen a word in such a long time and you don’t know if you are going to recognize it. And then I saw a lot of faces in the mirror. When the mirror is crushed, broken into pieces, who am I? Those pieces can not make a complete “me” again.
Letter to Mian Mian,
It came again. I don’t know what it is. I hope it’s depression. I will be more afraid if it’s another unknown thing. I take medicine everyday. Everyday… or else I will have insomnia. I stood still. The chandelier was so beautiful. It reminded me of you. You were gracefully leaning on a window from which I could see the mountain. With golden earring in your hand, washing your hands with them and then your hands always shining for me. How can I be so dark? Today I feel very good, but I have not slept. It is snowing outside. There is no one hurt on the street. I went out. The bridge didn’t collapse. There are strangers on the bridge that are smiling to me. Everything is good. Even I seem to be good, but why do I still want to jump over the bridge?
And some people from far away come to me
In order to stab me with a knife
They are full with themselves because they live to serve a clear purpose
They are alive to give others a knife
Or to hold a knife to duel with others
I feel empty because I am a knife
I am only meant to be hold at the waist
The night’s effect is making you feel sad. It’s addictive. Outside the window there is darkness everywhere, just like your future. The thick curtains are offering you a dream, but in fact you can’t survive in reality. You are telling them again and again that I am going to die. I am soon going to die. It’s like someone grabbed my neck. Like I’ve been kidnapped. Like I’m a dead person that still has some warmth in his body. This is so difficult. Like a mother that has to kill her daughter. And then she is lying on the bed, crying with swollen eyes that her daughter is sleeping beautifully.
For the past few years you have been looking for a missing table, living inside a cup and gradually evolving into an angry cup at the end. The world is close to you, but intangible and you can’t see it clearly. It’s like the light rays try to make love with shadows. I live like a shadow. But I only haunt during night time.
Only some people seem to have something in their red heart. This makes me a little sad and also disappointed. Every night before 12 I lay down a bit. It’s 2 o’clock and I’m still awake. It’s like there is a revenge battle at midnight. Sometimes I feel like I sleep on the ceiling. Sometimes in the middle of the mattress; sometimes I am flying.
I must reflect. I don’t drink outside and no matter how good the music is, I don’t dance. In my “awake” time I want to go to kiss a familiar boy. Or I want to go to his home. It’s not like I want a hug or something else, but I just want to look at the furnishing. But I was so obsessed to go to someone’s home during the night. In that night I was like a ghost. A ghost that doesn’t dare to walk. In that night I was afraid of death. Afraid of dying and becoming a person. I always want to make myself really, really dirty and then go out. But when I am in a crowd, I notice so many pure parts of me. I feel sad that we, everyday, are only talking about boys, love, the city. I can’t change.
Squat on the toilet and give yourself a phone call.
Never go downstairs before 0 o’clock
Never go alone to a restaurant
All of the waiters are wearing black clothes
It’s like they are ready to attend a funeral
The road is always longer than the shadow.
Why do I always want to fling myself?
Yearning for death is the power to live.
I woke up at noon and I heard the birds outside the window and if I had a shotgun in my hands, I would have immediately killed them, because their tweets are so wonderful that the world doesn’t tolerate their wonderful voices.
They always want to take something from you. Sometimes you are voluntarily taken and sometimes you are forced to go out. And sometimes they are taken away. Humble, sometimes you want to share, but no one wants your share.
Every life is pure. I am glad that my hands made my life miserable. Many people’s lives are made miserable by others.
I will only pay attention to the ones that are sick, two-dimensional thinking or a single-parent boy. There is a boy who will call himself and listen to his own voice. I know I am still underwater, but I haven’t drowned yet.
How much I try to reproduce my middle-school time, the bloody staged event. Staying upstairs I could see how the man was piercing your body with the bayonet, the knife was fatal. The inexplicable insomnia and excitement that lasted for years. I was blood thirsty. Life is destined to control the boy. My world is always murderous.
A lot of pictures keep turning
The whole room is turning
The bed is turning the opposite direction towards the room
My head seems to have a mirror
But the object in the mirror
Is still and my face
Is turning. Seasick.
So that is why all of the objects are turning.
Letter for Mian Mian and for an answer,
Yesterday I was in the subway, sick. And everyone had a black face. They were talking about me, but I didn’t hear a word. I felt that the man sitting next to me is the driver of the subway. He sat opposite to me. My brain can explode at any time, splashing his face, the glass. This is an unmanned subway. I can’t remember such things from the last time I went with the subway. This is terrible. You all love this text. Sometimes the letters can save me, but other times who can save me?
My dear, I can not always support you, or try to solve, or slow down our pain… you can see a doctor, but the best way is to recite or chant Buddhist scripture. You can read the heart of Sutra or even simpler Amitabha… Make sure that you hold on. I always seemed to not have anything to cope with the feeling of nothingness, but how can we not be scared of death, or angry with death. We must try to live happily and help the beings that are in pain as we are. My recent heart problems are getting worse. Each of us has a different degree of disease. We and the world are sick. There is nothing to solve.
Letter to Zhou Yaohui:
Everyone is gay, everyone is superior, everyone’s face is marked with supremacy, every heart is put inside a body armor. All kisses are a blind poison, all embraces are a cell.
I am a bird. I don’t have a bird’s head. I don’t have the wings of a bird, the feet of a bird, the bottom of a bird, the tail of a bird. Someone can say that I am like a football player. I kick and I kick.
Translation from Chinese language by Maria Jeleriu.
The original text of Ren Hang’s journal of depression can be accessed here.
Photo © Carmen Casiuc for The Chronicle [.ro].
Special thanks to Ana-Blanca Ciocoi-Pop.