“do I eat breakfast
or starve myself
i will write my
but only in
i was already
dead, and despite
all this i will still
get myself out of bed.”
I saw this quote earlier in the year. It’s stuck with me because it is me. It is me and it is over 350 million other people.
I am not depression; depression is not me. I am not depressed.
I have depression. And anxiety.
This is not something I have shared with many people- in fact, I have shared it with only two.
I’ve kept my own personal hell to myself for many reasons:
- I didn’t understand my own feelings, or lack thereof.
I was 15 the first time I can remember experiencing feelings of wanting to die.
- I was afraid of judgement.
“What do you have to be depressed about? Your life is great!”
Isn’t that basically asking someone why they have asthma when they’re surrounded by air?
- I was afraid my faith would be questioned.
“If you feel depressed, you should read your Bible more and pray to God about it. You wouldn’t be depressed if you had the joy of the Lord within you.”
I am still astonished every single day at the amount of people who don’t believe depression is a real mental illness.
- I was afraid that no one would believe me.
“You’re just being dramatic.”
“You don’t seem depressed.”
But you see, depression isn’t only at 3 a.m. when you’re alone and drowning in your own thoughts. It’s at 3 p.m. when you’re surrounded by friends or family and you’re half-way through a laugh. It swallows you up in your happiest moments, and it drowns you in terror when you should be crying with laughter.
These same people aren’t around when the panic sets in. When you are hyperventilating and the hideous streams of tears are flowing from your eyes for hours on end.
People can’t believe what they can’t see.
- I was afraid of how people would react.
“Get over it.”
Someone very close to me told me this when I told him I have anxiety. It wasn’t a serious, sit-down talk so I don’t blame him for reacting that way. But with those three words, I fell back into the trap that is my own mind.
While I am notorious for being “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry), my anxiety is not because I haven’t eaten since breakfast.
See, they don’t understand why you react to things like you do. They don’t understand why you are the way you are. So you feel like you can’t just feel things or react to things without having an excuse…
“I’m tired.” or “I just haven’t eaten in a while.”
Depression is living in a body that fights to survive, with a mind that tries to die.
Most people wouldn’t question someone when they claim to be a victim of domestic violence. They’d be quick to offer help or guidance to the victim, or maybe even open their homes to them for a while.
But…. Depression is being in an abusive relationship with yourself and you can never, ever escape from it.
- Depression is my companion.
This can be confusing…
A companion is defined as a person or animal with whom one spends a lot of time or with whom one travels.
Boy, have I spent a lot of time with depression. And man, have we traveled a long way together.
It’s hard to let go of the demons inside because at some point they were holding you when no one else would.
So, what is my experience living with depression?
Well it’s not always bad. Not at all. I’m not this gloomy, negative person walking around with a dark cloud over me wherever I go ready to rain on anyone and everyone’s parade.
I believe that is more along the lines of pessimism.
However, I do have my moments. Sometimes, depression means not getting out of bed. For days. But that’s not always possible because you can’t call in to work or school “depressed” even when every fiber of your being aches in a way that words can’t describe.
Sometimes depression means that doing laundry is the most impressive thing you’ve done. All week.
Sometimes, it means laying on your bedroom floor for hours just staring at the ceiling because you cannot convince your body that it is capable of movement.
Sometimes, it means the only words you have to offer the world are, “I swear to God, I am trying.”
But having anxiety and depression together is unique… It’s almost like a paradox at times.
It’s a fear of failure with no urge to be productive.
It’s caring about everything, and nothing at all.
It’s feeling everything at once, but being paralyzingly numb.
People think depression is feeling sad.
And yes, sometimes it is, but it’s more. Most of the time, it’s feeling nothing. Some of the time is sadness. At other times, it’s self-loathing and guilt because… “What the hell is wrong with me?” and, “The people I love deserve better.” It’s hopelessness, it’s isolation, and it is so much more.
But even in the days and weeks that these “episodes” occur, life continues. Part of having depression is living with it. I have found the greatest comfort in knowing that I may have depression for the rest of my life, but it will not last forever.
“To love me is to love a haunted house… Darling, this love will not cure me, but it will turn all the lights on. It’s the kind of love that gives me goosebumps when you say to the ghosts, ‘if you’re staying, then you better make room.’ And we kiss against the walls that tonight are not shaking and we turn the music up and dance.” (brenna twohy)
It’s been 7 years since I met depression. I spent most of those years unaware of its salutation. I spent some of the years navigating its waters. And while I still get lost at times, I have found a steady path to travel for now.