Depression doesn’t have reason or logic. You can’t explain it, and no one can talk you out of it. Neither can you rationalize your own way out. Well-meaning comments like
“look on the bright side”
“you have to see the glass as half full”
“but you have so many things to be grateful for!”
only serve to fill you with guilt and self-loathing for what you believe is an unreasonable depression.
Depression descends on you like a dark, heavy cloud. And because you can’t find a window or pull back a curtain, you quickly become lost. And then, in that dark maze, as you turn and try one way after another to escape, anxiety leaps out from nowhere and consumes you. Depression and anxiety, or panic attacks, often go hand-in-hand.
Depression happens TO you; it isn’t something you walk into deliberately or even subconsciously choose. No, it comes and it settles over you, no matter how strong you are, no matter how well you fend against it.
I do yoga;
I eat well;
I sleep well.
I am often accused of being “too positive”
I smile a lot,
and I see the best in every person
and in every experience.
I have no reason to be captured by depression.
I do nothing to attract it. And yet, depression slips in, swells my body, seeps out of my thoughts and words, and it captures me, pulling me down into a very dark void. Depression has invisible claws that sink into my soul and fasten me unto its hot, heavy burden. Depression sits on me and, without doubt, declares its intention to suffocate me. By the time I recognize it, I am too vulnerable, too weak.
When depression comes and the darkness swirls all around, there is a strange sensation, an “out-of-this-world” kind of transformation. Everything slows down and the senses dull: sounds blend and become muted, indistinguishable; objects morph into meaningless forms; and hunger feels like an inflated balloon held down by a brick in the base of the belly. You reach out in the darkness for something you know in your mind should be important, but because you can’t touch it, you determine that nothing is important anymore; nothing matters. And then you feel yourself floating out into space. There is no sense of weight; no sense of being. There is peace in that moment, and then you realize that you are falling. Peace vanishes and the stars become the details in your life. They are untouchable, and you know that isn’t right, so you begin to spin, grasp at the air, scream a silent protest. You know you are falling, and you can’t stop it.
I have suffered from depression enough now to recognize it even as it looms far away. And yet, I still believe I am strong enough to fend it off and to be untouchable “this time”. By now, I should know better, but each time, I believe I am stronger than I was the last time, and so I stand my ground and do all the “right” things.
I saw it coming sometime in the Fall. I saw it, but I quickly looked away. I refused to name it. I kept the idea hidden in a deep, wordless thought in the back of my mind. I was determined to refuse it. Depression knows this refusal and wears this knowledge like a badge of honor.
The Depression Monster knows I will deny its presence, and so, when I turn a blind eye, the monster slips into my presence and begins its slow, devious, descent, snaking its way into every fiber of my being. The light fades so slowly that I can pretend it isn’t happening.
And then, there is complete darkness.
The battle raged all Fall, even though I consciously denied it. I managed. Day by day, I functioned. And then, when I came home from work, I hid under the covers of my bed and waited until morning. I refused to think about it. That’s how I managed.
But when my family came to visit, the mental energy required to stave off the symptoms and to hide the evidence of my mental state was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. The tears would rise out of the darkness and shake me. The tears were like boiling hot lava stewing beneath my breast bone, and then the pressure would rise into my throat and that’s when I knew I was losing the battle.
I would excuse myself and go to the bathroom where I would sob into my hands and squeeze out the last bit of moisture from my eyes so I could shake it out of me and go back out to be in the group.
I would I would say “you go ahead, I’ll be there shortly” when they went to the pool, and then I’d cry again, wash my face, and again, shake it out of me.
In the mornings, I took brisk walks, trying desperately to fill my body with cool breath and a rejuvenation for life that would fend off the tears for that day.
Each time, I’d be OK for a while, but then, then the tears would come again. During their visit, I was so busy trying to hide it, just dealing with the constant sensations that simmered in and around my heart that I wasn’t consciously aware of what it was. But once they left, I knew without a doubt that I had fully fallen.
I knew what to do because I’ve been here before. I’ve already been through the trial and error process of finding the right medication and now, I don’t have time, energy, or money to go through that again. So I found a psychiatrist in Dubai and made an appointment. I requested Prozac. He wrote the script.
I’m not proud that depression is one of my life’s challenges. But I am also not ashamed.
As I determined what elements in my life were contributing to the breaking of my soul and which ones I could potentially eliminate, I called a meeting with my supervisor and requested to be moved to a different school.
He needed reasons.
I told him I was broken and had fallen, that depression had captured me.
The look on his face and his consequent words and actions revealed that to him, depression, and mental health were topics to be feared. For a moment, I was ashamed that I’d told him the truth. But that didn’t last long. A new wave of confidence came into my consciousness, like an angel whispering in my ear. By speaking, I knew I was in control of the Depression Monster by naming it, bringing it out in the open, slamming it on the table, so to speak, and demanding it be seen by others as well.
If you suffer from depression,
please know that you are not alone
and that there is hope.
Tell someone, even if you are scared.
And if you know someone who suffers from depression,
please know that it isn’t shameful,
and that your loved one isn’t in any way flawed.
Tell someone, even if you are scared.
“This too shall pass” seems too trite to say, and yet it is an anchor to hold you still until the darkness lifts, and it will.
It’s out there.