A tale of tussle with depression
It certainly is a buzzword and has the ability to evoke the vividest imageries, most painful memories, confusion, questions and a load of many unpleasant things- the reputation of “Depression” has undergone massive phases of stigma and acceptance, enigma and resistance, disapproval and breakthroughs and a whole lot more. It seems as if ‘mental health’ has been living a complex life of its own, encountering waves of the good and bad, cruising ahead, nonetheless.
It pans out almost like a cliched, run-of-the-mill, sappy tale with a happy ending, especially when I write and share it on the internet. Almost a decade ago, I had my first brush with the real-life infamous villain called “Depression.” I couldn’t cognize its presence initially and when I began to, it started scraping and spooking me in wacky ways every new time. It swiftly pervaded most spheres of my life, quite similarly to a virus, caused havoc and did damage – all without me even registering it. Over the years, our encounters became more frequent and our contests got so intense to the point where now when it didn’t visit me for a while, I’d start missing it!? Sounds like a case of Stockholm Syndrome, and perhaps it was. Anyway, then the plot took a turn, and there came the hero of the saga- the green-and-white-coloured pills, the prince charming on a horse, and a deep, spiritual healing from the heavens- all one after the other, sweeping me off my feet, pumping life and ecstasy into me. My story has a happy ending and I can hardly believe it. For someone who was a reclusive, faithless pessimist about her life circumstances, I surely saw somewhat of a miracle when I found happiness after about eight long years.
My journey with Depression began about 7 years ago when I was acutely unaware of it, its meaning or significance. The word seemed to have a weight tied around it which unabashedly prevented me from identifying it, let alone mentioning it, talking or researching about it. There was an evidently massive social stigma around the word, and I grew up thinking that my concerns, issues and problems were nowhere near as valid to forge into something as big and daunting as “Depression.” I had not lost any friends or family to death (yet), did not have any terminal diseases, wasn’t financially struggling and was on good terms with my family, too. There was no way, I thought, I could be clinically depressed. I wrote off the possibility completely in my 13-year-old tiny brain, which, to be honest, retrospectively does not seem like my mistake at all. There was no mention of mental health around me, neither at home, nor at school or any other social events. A year later, my mental state deteriorated, got to worse stage and began affecting my physical health. I completely lost my appetite, and consequently any strength to do any work- mental or physical. I stopped going to school and was visiting doctors and hospitals instead. All my blood tests, body scans and reports turned out to be negative. I did not exhibit any symptoms of any disease but had a fever almost all day, every day. I remained in this state for about a whole year, genuinely unaware of the fact that it was my miserably awful mental health causing me to fall physically sick.
The next year, I started noticing how I’d nearly lost the ability to be excited about anything anymore and how I spent way more time being upset than not being upset. I cultivated this surreal habit of self-sympathy wherein I would think about myself and my struggles, sympathise with myself by validating all my problems. I would still cry to bed every night, but I would also cry empathetically for myself , going, “wow, that sucks. I have been through so much, but it’s going to get better. I promise.” I would even do this every morning when I had to wake up to embark on the most horrible experience of going to school and getting bullied by that atrociously regimental institution where I, along with two thousand other young, impressionable girls, was told and taught to be responsible, obedient ‘mothers and wives’ in the future. Nobody else would validate my emotions, so it only made sense that I start validating them for myself.
I held on to all my inner strength for two more years. I had more complicated life issues and occurrences thrown at me; complicated friendships, a ruthlessly diabolical high schooling institution, a bizarre social image, and a brutally abusive first relationship at sweet sixteen. Like most of my other traumatising themes in life, I was unaware of the toxicity of my first relationship and blamed myself for “not being good enough,” (how teenage-emo-girl of me). And then came all other horrible things too: I lost someone in my family very close to me, very abrupt, completely unexpected. It sent me into an autopilot state. Now when I look back on that time in my life, I can understand how I just spiralled into denial which exacerbated my trauma. There is an incident which took place in my life during this period which left the most awful taste in my mouth and left me hopeless, frustrated and furious about state of apathy: after the death in my family, I took a few days off from school. I was struggling to manage my emotions and the instable state of my family. About a week later, the principal of my school called me into her office and asked me why I had been missing school. I told her I had lost someone in my family and she then very nonchalantly, in a matter-of-fact voice asked me to “get over it” because “people have it worse than you.” My blood boiled for three days straight and I was red with wrath towards my principal who was supposed to be an example of kindness, compassion and humanity to me???? Just because other people have it worse, does not make my situation any better. Similar to how we don’t tell a happy person to not be happy because other people have it better or are happier, I believe no one should tell another person how to feel something and what intensity to feel it with.
Moving on, to cope up with my flamingly sad state mind, I was frantically looking for distractions and I found myself one when I got into another abusive relationship which lasted for a year and was pretty much the last nail in the coffin in terms of me finally realising how damaged, “fucked-up” and in dire need of help and healing I was. When you read or assess these things in a sequence, you run into an epiphany which makes you see the wicked patterns of mental illnesses within yourself. Me subjecting myself to abusive relationships time and again to distract myself from pre-existing pain, losing any and all interest in things I used to be passionate about, losing motivation and getting closer to nihilism each passing day. It dawned upon me that I’d been a victim to scads of episodes which had successfully eroded my passions, hobbies, will to do good for the people around me. Since learning about the nature, intensity and impact of my mental issues, I have read a significant number of articles, anecdotes, memoirs, stories and studies about mental wellbeing. I registered and read about how ailments like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders can give people faint memory losses where days pass by and seem like a total blur; where people keep becoming increasingly incapable of reminiscing upon any happy memories because they can’t remember any. Another one interest side-effect of mental issues can get manifested in terms of decreased empathy for others which I started experiencing toward the end of my confrontation with depression and other issues. It could also lead to a plethora of other unhealthy coping mechanisms and side-effects such as anger issues, emotional insensitivity, acute physical lethargy, desire for social isolation, social anxiety and awkwardness, mindlessness, anhedonia, lost sense of self, irritability and neuroticism.
There are perhaps uncountable things associated with Depression, Anxiety and all the other mental illnesses which are rather grave. One of them is definitely the ability of these issues to plague you and your mind for years, feeding away on your energies- all without you having no single clue about any of it. By the time a lot of people realise what they are or have been going through is damaging and traumatising, it could be a little too late. There is an obvious increasing need for mental illnesses to be talked about widely and publicly, in schools and universities and at home. Just as a child is taught about the functioning and anatomy of the human body and the various physical diseases it can contract, I strongly believe mental illnesses should be taught and talked about in the same way.
Coming back to my mawkish tale, it was after yet another mindless, clueless and fearful phase of life and a few more bouts of depressive episodes over the course of six months after moving to another country for university studies that my hero(es) came into my life, out of nowhere, when I wasn’t even looking for it. And this is my favourite part: my hero happened to be the love of me life, my life increasingly started looking, feeling and sounding like a theatrical, poignant epic love-story. Now, the hero was here, trying to rescue me, pacify and heal me, yet I found myself drowning in an overflowing tub of overwhelming emotions, joys and passions that still remained lost and crippling, paralysing fear of falling apart any moment. My partner tried convincing me to seek help for my disturbed mental health, but I, being the stubborn, cynical, lugubrious sap that I am, rejected the thought fully because: a) never been made aware of mental health issues, treatment etc., and b) very hard-bitten! Finally, a once-in-a-lifetime, brutal attack of neuroticism occurred, crushed me and caused gnarly, impulsive, suicidal thoughts, pushing me and my partner to the edge and landing us straight to a general physician’s office who is prescribing me some happy pills aka antidepressants.
It was a basic Prozac, aesthetically decent looking, green and white, and a little bit sticky in texture. But boy, was a beauty on the inside! After about two weeks of beginning my 20mg per day dose, I started noticing the effects and was incredibly in disbelief- my surroundings and environments were no longer weighing me down and taking me to eerie headspaces, I could finally feel “enjoyment”, I gradually started regaining my long-gone sense of excitement. A few more months passed by, and here I was with my little joys, cheap thrills and lots more gratitude, an enriching sense of self, a better working mind and body, and my beautiful partner, my tremendously supportive family and friends (and the internet?!) without whom I would not have been here.
Anyway, ALL I AM SAYING IS, I used to be a serial killjoy and tell people how life’s a punishment and not worth living, that I never asked to be born and I hate that I was born at all. I genuinely gave up on the hope of things getting better after holding onto it for years with things getting only worse. And after all of that, I found a life that is more than worth all the pain I’ve ever felt. If I can get there, maybe you can too. If you feel even the littlest need to seek help for your mental state (therapy or medication), know that your emotions and state of mind are a hundred percent valid and get working on getting some help for it. Here's also a link to a nice, fuzzy video which helped me a little during the bad times:
For more information about the effects and functions of antidepressants: