“Empty” Fiction. Based on a True Dictionary Definition.

Depression: Noun

Feelings of severe despondency and dejection


Fiction. Based on a True Dictionary Definition.

by Lynn Duncan

This journal entry is inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.

Bad Days

There are days where I wake up and feel empty. I know I have slept enough. My eyes no longer heavy. I wake at the same time every day without an alarm. Unbidden. I know I should get up. Make coffee. Eat something. Move myself from the warm soft sheets. Move myself from Husband. But I don’t. I lie there. In my grey sheets. Sometimes I read. Or fall back asleep. I know there are things I need to do. Like study. But I can’t bring myself to leave. To move. To care.

Husband wakes, goes about his morning getting ready for work and I can’t make myself move. Only when the minutes have ticked down to 8am do I rise from my bed. Blindly finishing my morning routine. I drive to work. Not really hearing the radio, or the music or audio book. The landscape passes me in a daze. There are moments I am surprised I have even survived the drive to work. No injuries.

Work. I want to close my door and lose myself in audio books or podcasts. But that is not what happens. I take phone calls, I do paperwork, I answer emails with the mask of authority and understanding that I do not actually have. That I doubt my instructions. I doubt that anyone sees me in a position of power or authority. I feel like a fraud sometimes. Unqualified. Imperfect. Flawed.

I take breaks to write or message a friend. I know I should be working but that crushing feeling returns. The empty feeling. Whispering in my ear that it doesn’t matter anyway. That I am soft. That I am weak. The fire that burns in my chest greatly diminished. Nearly snuffed out. I am a walking zombie. The life gone from me for no reason other than it just is. I have no rhyme or reason for it so I go searching.

I dig through the brambles of my memories. Why do I feel empty? Why do I feel alone? How do I fix it?

The answers: Because you are. Because you are. You don’t.

So I do this instead.


I listen to melancholy music. I write. I try to undo the knot in my throat. I try to sort out my brain. I try to remember that I am smart. That I am worth staying because I can do something good. I stay because it’s possible that beyond this life there is nothing and I don’t want to be alone.

I first felt the empty feeling in earnest in College. I had a roommate that I wasn’t close with. I didn’t have close friends. My family a whole state away. I remembered there was a week where I sat in bed. I didn’t go to class, I ate little, slept almost the entire time. I felt like I wasn’t good enough to be there. Everyone was so smart, and I had to relearn how to study. It was a hit to my pride where before I was a straight A student that didn’t need to study.

I missed swimming. I wanted my regular schedule. But I couldn’t commit to getting up at 530 to go to practice. So my passion became a dream. A memory. The grounding portion of my life I let go. Because I wasn’t fast enough to be on the team and the club was beyond my league. My lack of discipline the cited source of my failure.

That summer I went to war with myself over whether to go back to Uni or to stay home.

In hindsight I should have transferred to a state school. I knew I needed to continue my education.

I’ve started and stopped school more times than I can count. Every failure starts the same way.

Too busy to study. No motivation to study. Then too far behind to continue so why continue.

Too busy to go to class. Why go? I’m super behind as it is.

I always give up. I quit. Perseverance is not in my nature. The newness wears off and I put the new thing down. Well more like my own perfectionist tendencies creep up on me and make me feel like a failure.

Trust me I know that failure is normal. Expected. Human in all ways. But I can’t seem to shake the feeling that if I fail, it means I’m no longer worthwhile.

I know that’s not true too. I know that I will still be myself if I meet my goals or if I fall short of my goals.


I try to remember to pull my shoulders down from my ears. To sit up straight and tall even when it feels like the weight of my expectations on my neck will crush me. So I know that I need to put in the work to unpack that weight. I know I am smart. I know I can do any task any professor asks of me. I know that I am smart enough to do all of my work in a quarter of the time.

I know I study best when I am not at home. So I plan to remove myself from that environment while I finish my assignments. I plan to use my planner to keep myself organized. I want to block off time to do certain tasks. I don’t want to guilt trip myself for not getting to something anymore. I want to know that at the end of the day that I did what I could with the time that I had and that is enough.

Granted I have to figure out how to do that. How do I make myself study when I’m sitting in my chair with the entire internet at my disposal. How do I make myself open the book and look at the words? Do I need to find better motivation? Do I need to remember that my goals wont happen if I don’t put in the effort? I want to learn. I want to be better. I want to be knowledgeable. But most of all I want to be a source of inspiration and knowledge for someone. I want someone to look at me and say, “Thank you. Your story mattered to me. It inspired me.” Maybe that sort of vindication, that validation, is my problem. Who am I to think that I could inspire anyone? Especially when I am so uninspired myself?

I keep seeing posts online about how you can be a work in progress and still inspire people. Some days I think that is possible. And other days I think the people that created those posts just want you to follow them so they can make more money. Some days I think that Social Media is poisoning me. That I am drowning in the black sludge of perfect posts, beautiful sunsets and an unachievable aesthetic. And other days its a source of inspiration for me. It gives me something to try and capture with words. It reminds me of my passions. I find new books to read. I support other writers. I plan lofty trips that I may or may not take.

In small doses, I know that taking a break is okay. That doing nothing but lying on my couch is acceptable. Forcing myself to relax turns into relaxing consciously, turns into relaxing automatically.

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