A lot of people don’t understand Depression. Maybe they’ve felt it before but mistook it for Sadness, or maybe they thought they were depressed but really just sad.
Here, I want to offer my own definition. I guess that’s kind of what I want this blog to be about. For those who understand, I’m here to be your sounding board. If you don’t understand but you know or love someone who suffers, let me offer a new perspective. (I’m not a doctor, so I’m only speaking for myself)
When you’re depressed, it’s hard not to always feel like the poison in the water hole. It’s hard to ignore that ever present voice in your head that says, “You did it again: you ruined everything.” The Voice even ruins the good things people do or say, by reminding you how terrible you are and how undeserving.
I’d say that’s the difference between Depression and Sadness: Sadness grips you and brings you to your knees, but once you relish in all that makes you feel, Sadness lets go. On the other hand, Depression is the lover that grips you tight and waltzes you away into a flurry of unwanted thoughts and uncontrollable feelings. It’s like a bird squawking in your ear every few minutes. It’s this presence that clutches your soul and makes everything feel difficult. Everything sounds exhausting when you’re depressed and everything is work, even the things you love and sometimes even the people. Depression is like this monster that kind of just eats you from the inside out until you become the monster and don’t even recognize yourself.
When I say uncontrollable feelings, I mean completely unwarranted and unwanted waves of anger, bitterness, jealousy, hatred, fear, worry, and sadness. Everything that happens in the day elicits these responses that leave me feeling helpless, like a prisoner to my own mind and emotions. And then there are the waves of numbness. Those are the worst because the apathy and lack of feeling comes from nowhere. Sometimes, I feel this apathy towards things or people that I once felt so deeply for and about. I think it’s from this fear of all the work and energy it takes to feel and be passionate about anything, so even my deepest passions turn to dust in the face of Depression.
It’s also guilt. A lot of guilt and a lot shame—a never ending cycle that usually ends with me paralyzed in my bed, afraid to move or speak because it might lead to something else I’ll regret or hurting someone else I love.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to Depression:
ONE. Selfishness is the cause of Depression. It’s a constant looking in that causes people to become this hopeless blob. While I warrant this has merit, it sure as hell doesn’t suggest a cure either. It’s hard to be selfless when you can’t even get out of bed. Sometimes, this sentiment just leads to more guilt.
TWO. You’ve got to be selfish. If you’re constantly “pouring from an empty cup,” you’ll never get better. Be selfish, so you can be selfless later.
I think both are right to a certain extent, but in moderation and balance. The hardest part is learning the healthy balance between self-love and doing things to help you get better, and actually falling deeper into the all-consuming world view of poor me.
I’m not really sure what causes Depression. I wish there was a clear answer: like make sure to eat your vegetables and don’t drink blue Kool-Aid and have lots of friends and good family, then you won’t catch Depression. God, I wish it were that easy. All I know is that when I was twelve, I woke up one day with this weight over me, like wearing a heavy cloak I couldn’t take off. I remember that first bout so clearly. In a jewelry box in the closet of my apartment, there are twelve letters written to God. It was 2004. How guilty I felt then, and now. As a little girl, I shouldn’t have had a reason to be depressed, not really. I had a family that loved me and food and shelter and clothes (though no sense of style sadly). I didn’t know why I was so tired. I didn’t know why I was so sad. I didn’t know why dying sounded so sweet. I didn’t understand. I was only a kid.
There are things I didn’t know then and still don’t know why now. Why Depression chose me, I’ll never know. If you’ve suffered through Depression for any length of time, you’ll sympathize.
I am often told: “It gets better.” It’s such a sweet thought. If you’re anything like me though, this sentiment will frustrate the hell out of you (as most supposedly reassuring clichés are prone to do. I’ll write a lot about how much I hate these types of sayings). Try feeling the same way for ten or more years. That little flicker of hope snuffs out quickly, and when the light at the end of the tunnel goes black, being told to hope for the sake of hoping doesn’t seem good enough anymore.
I’m not trying to offer excuses for my behavior; I know there are parts I am responsible for. I just want to help people understand where I’m coming from, and the why to the questions I still cannot answer. I know that I am difficult, and not from a self-pitying stand point but from self-awareness. I want so badly to love the people in my life the way they deserve. I want to be there for them. I want to laugh and have fun and be present wherever I am. I dearly love the people in my life, but I will be the first to admit that I cannot always communicate and show my love for them. I require a lot of patience and comfort. For now, I think that’s okay. But my hope this year is that the tides will change.
This year I want to be better. I want to love others in return better. I want to live better. I want to work better. I want better.
In the meantime, this is how I keep myself going, how I keep fighting for the life I want to have. On the bad days, I remind myself:
This feeling will pass.
I can do this because I am brave. I am brilliant. I am beautiful.
I will get better, because “it” might not. But I can, and that’s all I want anyway.
Joy and happiness friends,
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