I wasn’t sure how to title this post. I was going to put “I’ve Had Depression” but upon further reflection I wonder if past tense is the correct verbiage. Do I HAVE depression? Does it ever fully go away? I feel fine today but know all too well that may not be the case tomorrow.
Let me first begin by explaining that I’ve never been formally diagnosed with depression. For some reason, making myself vulnerable through writing seems much more bearable than talking to a doctor about how I feel. The thought of trying to explain the sporadic despair and hopelessness that is my world to someone with a clipboard just isn’t an option.
My depression is interesting because anyone who knows me knows that I am an extrovert times 100. I’m happy and funny and all those things that no one would ever associate with depression. That’s that thing, everyone wears it differently. I’d like to think I wear mine well.
I’m going to try to explain my experience as best I can with the hope that either someone reads this and finds hope or someone reads this and reaches out to a friend, family member and/or acquaintance.
Here it goes.
Sometimes I feel empty and alone. Sometimes I feel anxious. Sometimes I feel really tired. Sometimes I feel all of those things simultaneously.
Other times, I feel perfectly fine for days and even months. There is no rhyme or reason with depression.
I’m getting better at knowing that with every fall a rise is just around the corner. That wasn’t always the case.
There was one period in my life where I truly felt like I couldn’t continue. I felt like I was dying and my body just wasn’t catching up. It was inevitable and I wondered how much longer would I have to suffer before I’d finally be allowed to escape. If it would just happen already then maybe I’d find peace. I had a plan and wrote a note. I wasn’t scared. I wasn’t manic. I wasn’t anything.
I can say two things that were completely true during that time (and this is what I want people to understand) 1) I honestly felt like suicide was a viable solution 2) I was not myself
I can’t fully explain what I mean when I say that I was not myself but I’ll try; I did not recognize myself. My body and mind felt foreign as if they were being inhabited by someone (or something) else. I felt disposable. I felt as if I were a dark spot on everyone’s otherwise bright and sunny lives. I envisioned a storm cloud walking into every room with me.
Please understand that everyone experiences depression differently. This is my story but there are so many more out there to be told.
What kept me from ending my life? Reasons. I had very tangible reasons; watching my nieces and nephews grow up, sparing my parents the pain of losing a child. If those reasons had not been then there’s a very good chance I wouldn’t be here today.
That’s not to say that people who commit suicide didn’t have those same reasons, people that they loved dearly. I don’t doubt that for a second. There were many times when my reasons seemed far away, just beyond my reach. Those times were dangerous for me. I’m fortunate to have escaped the talons of depression during those times. Again, no rhyme or reason.
I was watching something on TV awhile back about suicide. I can’t remember if it was a documentary or news show like 20/20 or Dateline but it mentioned a study that revealed that something like 90% of people who attempted suicide and failed were happy that they survived. They were happy for the second chance.
That statistic touched me because it meant that they were happy to not have taken away their option of life. That’s what suicide is, it’s taking away the option for things to get better.
I don’t judge anyone who takes their own life. I’m sad that they lost their battle with a very powerful sickness. A sickness that manifests turmoil so gut-wrenching that you’ll never understand without experiencing it firsthand. No one who struggles with depression is immune to its wiles.
I take steps to manage my depression. I see a therapist regularly and take medication. Both are helpful but it took me years to reach this point. There are still tough times but I now know that it will pass.
I say all of this to encourage you to be kind. Offer encouragement. Reach out to old friends. Don’t judge the actions of others if you don’t understand what’s driving them. Depression is a bitch.
If you’re experiencing depression ask for help. Talk to someone. Don’t take away your options. Even though they seem few and far between one is just around the bend. Trust me please.
Disclaimer: This isn’t my most eloquent work but this topic is tricky to convey to others. Depression can feel like a jumbled mess of emotions and while I tried to not have that come through in my writing I may not have succeeded.