Warning: kind of heavy psychological topic.
I have wanted to write about depression for a long time. Long before I had a blog. But it's a very difficult thing to do for many reasons. When I feel good, it's tough to remember exactly what I felt like when I was depressed. When I am depressed, I can't write. Or my thoughts are so dark that I don't dare write about them. Plus, people don't really want to hear about it. People want blogs to be upbeat, happy, funny, whatever. Not depressing.
But I am going to try today, on my way out of a depression. Maybe I can do it justice.
I have been diagnosed with chronic major depression, among other things. I am not talking about having a bad day or a bad week. I am not talking about being depressed about failing at school or breaking up with someone. I am talking about a kind of darkness that comes from nowhere and pins your soul to the floor and won't let you up. Crying uncle doesn't help. Turning purple doesn't help. You can die several times over and still not find pity in the eyes that stare you down. Depression has no soul. So it takes yours.
J.K. Rowling has said that the dementors in her stories are a representation of the depression she suffered. When I heard that, I thought it was an apt symbol. They are soul suckers. Everything gets dark. You feel like you'll never be happy again. You crumble to the ground and can do almost nothing to defend yourself.
You may be surprised to know that depression can be comfortable. I can wrap up in it like a warm blanket, unwilling to let it go. Think of all the movies that show someone falling asleep in the snow. They will die if they don't move, but they don't care. The people around them are worried, but they don't care. They just want to curl up and sleep. "Leave me alone and let me sleep." It's like that.
It's very difficult to care about anyone or anything else. The darkness is so strong.
Why would I shower? I'm so tired and it's so much work. I'm not going anywhere. Just leave me alone and let me sleep.
Why would I eat? I'm not hungry and nothing sounds good and it's so much work. Leave me alone.
Why would I get together with friends? I'm so tired and irritable. I'd be no fun to be around and it's so much work. Leave me alone.
And it's impossible to describe the exhaustion to the point that you can understand if you haven't felt it. Imagine wearing a big, heavy wool coat that is soaking wet. And going three days without sleep. Now try to get anything done. Try to function. And try to explain to the people around you that you are dying even though they don't see it. It's like that.
Sometimes you wish someone would notice and try to make it better. Then they do and it's so much worse. Everyone who hasn't experienced it thinks they know how to make it go away. They will tell you things that just make you stare at them with incredulation. The things they are telling you are impossible for you to do. It's like they are asking you to fly. It seems that impossible.
And you know you are making people around you worry. You know you are hurting relationships. And it just makes you feel worse. You are bleeding to death and yet you are supposed to worry about them?
It doesn't feel like there will be a tomorrow. And if there is, you know it will be miserable like today. Why put forth any effort?
And if you haven't had it, you don't get it. I don't care how much you've studied it or observed it or lived with someone who struggles. If you haven't had it, you don't get it. It's like never having been pregnant and telling a new mother that you know what she went through. You've never felt a living being moving inside you, knowing that their entire future is up to you. You've never had your body taken over by a process that is so mundane and so miraculous at the same time. You've never suffered the pain of childbirth. You don't know. It's like that.
And while none of the options I've tried have been able to make this go away permanantly, it lets up. And I've learned a lot. I'm not giving up. I have hope. At least today I do.
I am not looking for pity or understanding. This is a meager attempt on my part to teach about something I know. While I can.