A friend of mine commented to me personally that my previous post sounded like I was describing depression, and she suggested that I write a post specifically on the topic… First of all, I want to say I do not consider myself depressed at the moment. I do not consider myself as depressed most of the time. As explained in the previous post, this time frame makes me more susceptible to depression, but I have coping strategies and as yet have not fallen into the chasm that is depression this year. This in no way means that I haven’t had down days or been precariously close to falling, but I am coping.
I’ve heard a lot of people say that once you are diagnosed with depression that it haunts you forever and they make it sound as though it is a life long condition. I don’t feel that is true. One can recover from depression – it is true, however; that someone who has been truly depressed before is more susceptible to it happening again if they aren’t careful. I’m not saying that it is always a choice, sometimes even your usual strategies don’t help and you fall anyway. Sometimes something happens that triggers a dramatic and sudden episode so that you have no time to catch yourself first. I just don’t think it is an automatic life sentence if you are ever depressed at some point.
This year I turned 32 and I have been coping with depression since I was a teen. Around the age of 15, I was diagnosed as clinically depressed. It started with rage and an overwhelming feeling of having no control. No control over my emotions at all, no control over my own life it felt like. There was an overwhelming sadness that I didn’t know where it had come from. I tried to be happy. I tried to distract myself and smile when others were around, but a nagging sadness wouldn’t leave me alone.
I had just gone through the upheaval of leaving my boyfriend behind as I moved to a different continent. I had left him behind, but not really. I remained devoted even though he was abusive and controlling. I remained devoted even though he made me feel worthless. Eventually that year I realized what I needed to do and broke up with him. I attributed my sadness and the occasional uncontrollable hysteria on this aspect of my life.
After a short while I stopped feeling at all.
I started to think about killing myself, and then I realized it wasn’t so much I wanted to actually kill myself – but rather that I wanted to blink out of existence, just stop being. I just didn’t see the point in being alive. I didn’t feel that I was even worthy of life. I felt as though I was broken and that I obviously wouldn’t be able to get put back together as I had lost a part of myself somewhere along the way. You would think that if you lost part of yourself you would care… but I didn’t care about anything at all anymore. Sometimes all I wanted was someone with me. I had no need or energy for talking, but felt a faint glimmer of some feeling when someone was just with me.
Eventually my parents took me to a doctor and I was diagnosed as clinically depressed – I had a serotonin level imbalance – so I started taking Paxil and seeing a therapist.
I healed, I’ve had a few bouts of depression again since then – but overall I’ve healed. Depression does change you though. Once you’ve felt that way once your down feelings are more readily available to you. You become more susceptible and more wary.Triggers can set you off. You are able to recognize the signs that it is coming.
I have a younger friend who recently confided in me that he is afraid that he is depressed. He told me that he has to make himself busy just so he won’t stay in bed. He told me that he smiles when others are around, but somewhere in the back of his head he’ll still have this feeling nagging at him. He about broke my heart when he said that now when he sees other people being happy he wonders if they are acting just like he is. That broke my heart not only because I hate for him to feel this way, but also because I understand exactly what he is talking about. He showed me his knuckles that had bled because he repeatedly punched a wall during a period of uncontrollable feeling. I told him I punched a wall when I was a teen as well.
He told me that it is the worst at night, and I knew what he meant. Even now, when I am warding off a threatening depression, it is easier to cope during the day – people to see, things to do, strategies to implement. But at night, in bed, you are alone with yourself. You can’t get away from yourself.
I am glad he has someone like me to confide in. I didn’t really have someone to confide in properly back then, until I was sitting in a therapist’s office. Don’t get me wrong – the therapist sessions helped alright… But I didn’t have a support person that knew what I meant when I wasn’t able to explain. It’s so much easier to express myself about it now, but when I was in the middle of it the words couldn’t come. He tried to explain, but then told me he was having a hard time articulating what he felt. I told him I know exactly what he meant.
In releasing this post out into the web, I hope that it finds that one person who really needs to read this and needs to know: You are not the only one who is going or has gone through this. There is help, there are people that understand, there is healing, this is not a life sentence… and you are worthy of your life.
I don’t know if I did justice to explaining depression (for those of you that have never felt it), I have read so much and seen youtube videos etc of people explaining and it makes sense, but usually seems to be not quite effective. Sometimes just comes off as being generic and textbook… so If you want to read more about it I would highly recommend this post from the blog Hyperbole and a Half. I have never read a more accurate account…