“I am not my depression”

Project Description:

It can be pretty hard to rationalize taking care of your responsibilities or even taking care of yourself when you don’t really think you want to be alive at all. And on a larger scale, that’s the frightening transformation that depression will send you through: you become absolutely a shell of your former self, no longer interested in any of your former pursuits, unmotivated to accomplish anything, utterly unproductive, and exhausted by the simplest tasks.

For me these things have subsided a bit, but I still get oddly nostalgic for times that I’d intended to forget. I remember the isolation, the inability to get out of bed every morning, the inability to look in the mirror when I finally did. I remember killing myself slowly with cigarettes, alcohol, and inactivity. I remember the feeling that I was really only living from therapy session to therapy session. I remember my stoicism when the therapist told me her diagnosis. I remember, several months after that, the feeling of my face, hot and wet after so many months’ drought, as she asked me to promise her I’d stay alive. I remember how these two sessions felt oddly the same. I should have realized that this time didn’t exist in a vacuum, no matter how much it may have felt that way. I should have realized that I’d be mourning the loss of it later. I remember the storms that summer; time after time, the sky would open up upon me as I’d wander aimlessly across the city, but my eyes were dry at all the wrong times. If you’re depressed, I’d suggest crying when you can and want to; otherwise there’ll come a time when you’re wringing your sunken eyes out for just a drop, wishing you had.

Depression, I’d say, is the textbook definition of a downward spiral. Likewise, recovery is never a straight line; there’s never a guarantee that things will get better. And the frustrating thing, to people suffering from depression and people who have a poor grasp on the concept of depression, is that there doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason to feeling better. Sure, every high point is to be all the more appreciated, but every relapse is a disappointment. And that’s just it – all it takes to find yourself in the middle of a relapse is one simple thought, one second of self doubt, one word: why? and suddenly you feel inadequate and ill-fit to the world around you, unsure of what the point of this struggle is at all, or a hatred of the world itself.

I could use this platform to suggest other depressed people try to hold on for dear life to things that make them feel anything at all, or any assortment of inspirational advice, but in all honesty I’m really not sure how I got to this point of stability. But even aside from that, I want to assert my good faith in people with depression, my trust that they already are giving it all they can, are trying their hardest, and don’t need what too many of us already face on top of our illness: the stigma, the denial, the “it’s-all-in-your-heads,” the “do-you-even-want-to-get-better”s, the uninformed opinions and advice under the guise of “helping” us, and all the other external forces that serve to delegitimize our struggles and disempower us.