CW: mental health content
About three weeks ago I was doing really bad with my mental health. Down to the point that I was perpetually emotionally numb. I did have bouts of irrational anger over stupid little things, but those were always brief, and then I was back to numb. At some point I asked myself how could I measure what I was going through. I had heard of both Spoon Theory and Fork Theory, and love the explanations they offer. Yet, they did not work for describing a lack of emotion, a sense of no attachment to those around me. I needed another type of litmus test. Oddly it came from the Avengers. (spoilers for Infinity War and Endgame if you continue)
In the most recent Avengers movies there are similar scenes of someone trying to retrieve the Soul Stone and the unique requirements to do so. In the movie, you have to sacrifice someone that you love, by throwing them over a particular cliff. If the Soul Stone judges that you truly love that person, you get the Soul Stone, at the cost of your loved one. For some reason I found that I was placing myself at the top of the cliff and wondering if I could potentially retrieve the Soul Stone. When I first thought of this, I could see no way that I could get the Stone. I did not love anyone, not even myself. Zero potential to get the Stone. I say potential because, I cannot see myself ever pushing someone off the cliff. Not even in a thought experiment. The idea here is to see if the Soul Stone would judge another as a worthy sacrifice, judge if I love someone enough.
So for the next several days I would ask myself if I could get the Stone. It would be my litmus test to see when my depression was beginning to lift. After a week, I saw another on the cliff beside me. Someone the Soul Stone would accept as a sacrifice, but I also saw myself desperately trying to protect them. Hold them away from the edge, away from the Stone. I was able to feel again. Just a little, it was a list of one, but I could see progress. In a few days there were more on the list. I was coming up, out of the depression. At least somewhat. And I had a means of measuring it, if a bit odd.
The cliff of the Soul Stone is not about whether or not I would sacrifice someone, it is about if I am alone on that cliff. The more people the Soul Stone would deem worthy for me to sacrifice is a sign of how well I am able to function emotionally. A sad truth of depression, a deep depression, is a numbness so deep you cannot love, because you cannot feel anything. It is what leads some to cut themselves, because they’d rather feel pain than nothing at all. Some drink or use drugs to cover the lack of feeling. Sadly, some look to escape the numbness via death and take their own life. Been close to that a few times myself.
In the end, this line of thought also brought about a whole new line of questions for me. That first person next to me on the cliff was a surprise, not who I would have expected. As more people joined me on the imaginary cliff they too surprised me. Even if you don’t suffer from deep depressions, I challenge you to ask yourself who might be on that cliff with you. Who do you love enough that the Soul Stone would take them from you? For me, it helped to know that I care about others so much, and that I never once thought if they felt the same for me.
I’ve also resolved to never share my list of people for the simple reason that it changes as my mental health changes. Telling another they are on, or not on, the list can be taken the wrong way for many different reasons. The point is to help me know I am not alone, and if the list gets empty again, to seek help.