Bert developed his own methods for coping with the stressful hell that was his life. Whenever his burdens became too much for him to bear he would retreat within himself. Emotionless and cold, he could reflect upon the intricate ironies of his life with cynical satire and laugh quietly to himself. His life was not as painful when it wasn't taken personally. Perhaps this was a dangerous mental exercise, bordering on schizophrenia in the view of some, but it was the only ploy that offered any rest or solace.
Comfort often came in the form of expression, as Bert discovered his artistic side. Writing poetry often helped him to vent the frustration and pain that he felt much more effectively than talking to a friend ever had. Music also began to play a great role in his life, as he found that certain types had a stabilizing effect on his emotional state. Angry, pounding music could help him release the building anger that sometimes plagued him. Electronic, pulsing techno helped him ignore his emotions for awhile and lose himself in the intricate rhythmic patterns. Sad and wistful softer rock seemed to empathize with his situation without needing to say a word.
On occasion he would share with a close friend some of the daily troubles that he faced, but most often his only confidant was God. Sympathy was not what he sought. Nor did he want someone to make everything better for him. Aged far beyond his years, he no longer hoped for that which was impossible. He knew better than to let any part of himself rely on others. Sometimes a friend would offer him pity, which he would vehemently reject. Only the pathetic seek pity, and seek it because they do not deserve empathy. Many friends were shocked when they found the true state of his life, and could only apologize. These he found slightly amusing and sometimes annoying, since they offered condolences where none would suffice.
His girlfriend was disturbed when he would retreat within himself. She claimed that she could tell whenever he had been listening to techno music by his mood. Whenever he did she would complain that he seemed removed and aloof and not receptive to her own feelings. Sometimes he would feel guilty over this, but slowly he realized that she had grown dependant upon him for everything and that she offered no support in return. If she could offer him no solace but expect him to continually be strong for her, then she must learn to let him cope with his pain in his own fashion.
There was no denying or ignoring the symptoms when depression took began to take hold of him. First would come the constant unending sensation of free falling in the pit of his stomach. It was a feeling of hunger and emptiness that refused to be sated. Next he would feel the apathy build inside of him, until he no longer cared whether he ate or slept. Exhaustion was a constant companion as he lost interest in his own body and existence. Desperation sometimes rose in him, making him criticize his life and its complete lack of meaning or justification.