You see, for the better part of my life, I’ve been battling depression. And for the last 6 months, it reared its ugly head.
It’s hard for me to talk about this because so many people have so many preconceived notions about it. There’s this stigma surrounding it, one where judgment reigns free. Suddenly, people are looking at you differently, treating you differently, tip-toeing around you. Sometimes, often times, it’s the people you love. So in an effort to not be judged, you pull back, furthering the isolation that you are inevitably already feeling. You dig down deeper into this gaping hole, going further and further and further until you’re incapable of finding your way back out again. It’s a brutal and sick cycle.
I think one of the worst misconceptions I’ve heard about depression is the notion that it’s just a consistently sad state-of-mind. People think that, if you, the sufferer, could just think with a little more rationale, you could see that things were fine. But the people that think this way couldn’t be more wrong. It’s not that simple. Depression isn’t sadness and depression isn’t consistent. Depression is a very mental, physical and emotional thing that swallows your entire being whole, starting from the inside on out. It defies the bounds of logic by giving you a false sense of hope. It eats away at the happy little pieces of you, a little bit at a time. And it never makes sense. One minute you can feel totally normal and the next, you start to break apart.
And, for me, that’s my biggest struggle. The randomness of it. There will be moments, days, months where you feel fine; you think, “I’ve finally got my shit together.” You feel transparent and free. But then, for no apparent reason at all, a soul-crushing well will open up, sucking you into this undertow of fear and hopelessness and pain. It feels like you’ve been punched right in the gut; so you grasp at strings, at anything to hold onto really, desperate for some sense control. But after a while, you get tired of fighting and it begins to feel like a kindness to give in. It gets to a point where you’d do anything, anything just to get rid of the pain.
But that’s not the worst part about depression. It’s the shame. It’s the guilt you feel for feeling this way, the utter hopelessness of not being able to get out of it. It’s the embarrassment you get from not being strong enough to fix it—that impermeable despair and torment that takes up residence in the hollowed out part of yourself. It’s the feeling that there is something wrong with you and that you deserve it, somehow. That is the worst part.
Look, I don’t want to glamourize depression in any way. Trust me when I say, there is nothing glamourous about it. I think if Robin Williams’ recent and untimely death has taught us anything, it’s that depression is deadly serious. And that’s part of why I made the decision to share this personal bit of my life with all of you. Because this is a serious and seriously misunderstood illness, one that deserves a bit of recognition from and for the people who are afflicted by it.
To those of you who may be suffering from depression, I want you to know that it’s okay to seek help. You are NOT less than a person for feeling this way and you do NOT deserve this. Please, please, please tell someone. Say something, anything, to anyone you trust. And know that you are not alone. Conversely, if you know someone who is or may be depressed, please, listen. Do not try to fix them. Do not judge. Just listen and let them know they are loved. In situations like this, that is the greatest kindness you can give.
As for myself, well, I’m a work in progress. I won’t lie and say that things are completely fine because they're not. Healing doesn’t happen overnight. Slowly I’m getting better, one day at a time. And maybe one day I can claim a victory over my depression, at least, that’s the hope. Hope. Hope is a small spot of colour in an otherwise vast sea of grey. Hope is what keeps me going. Hope is what keeps me alive.
And if you're interesting in learning more about the science behind depression, please check out AsapScience's video here. Understanding how something works is the key to curing it.