Depression is a crippling mental disorder. Don’t let anyone say otherwise. True, the old adage is that if you can’t see the pain, as in physical, then it doesn’t count. That is completely wrong.
All because you can’t see my depression, doesn’t mean it’s not real. Or doesn’t affect my mood, behavior, physical actions, etc. Depression is just as crippling as someone with a cast on their arm or leg. Or broken ribs. Or some other physically seen bruise or damage to someone’s physical body. The brain, however, gets just as bruised and injured with depression as anything on the outside, anything that can be seen by the eye.
Don’t be fooled, however. Those with depression, social anxiety, or any other mental disorder are just as bruised, just incapable of physical action as anyone with a physical injury. In many cases, sadly, the bruise of depression never leaves some people, as they carry the mental and emotional scars of depression, and its effects, for a long time. Just ask me, as a person who has lived with depression for over 25 years.
Depression has always been with me. Sometimes, it would pop up for no logical reason. Other times, some kind of life-setback sent me into a tailspin. For whatever the case may be, it has always been with me. Like a best friend or arch nemesis. I can’t shake it. I can remember being depressed way back into my childhood. And I am not talking about just being sad. No. It’s more than feeling sad about something or anything. Sadness comes and goes.
Depression stays with you no matter what is happening in your life. Good things. Bad things. Or, even as the case turns out to be, nothing at all. Yeah, I get depressed when even nothing happens in my life. One would think that, after all this time, I would be accustomed to depression. That is never the case.
I can deal with it from time to time, push it to the side and deal with it later, or even try to ignore the depression that is with me at all times. But it always is there with me. Rearing its ugly head, ready to grip my brain like a vice at any given time.
Its effect on me is not just the mentality of dealing with it. It overcomes my physical attributes as well. I feel sluggish a lot. Uninterested or unengaged in everyday activities. Cripples me to a point that I there are days I don’t want to go outside the house, do much of anything. Sure, I would always go out and get my coffee every morning. After that, not much else on most days. It’s as if my depression wants me to be a vegetable all day and waste away the rest of my life.
A major tag-team of depression is my social anxiety. Together, it has not made for a very enjoyable life. I have more self-doubts, second guessing, and regrets than I can count on. Thing is, the cycle is never broken. What’s worse is that, at my age of 41, I know my opportunities are getting fewer and farther in between.
This is not some mid-life crisis thing, either. This is more of a sense of “Where has my life gone?” People always say if you blink, life will pass you by. Well, that is for damn sure. When I was younger, I would just think, and hope things would be different. My life would be better. Active social life. In a meaningful relationship. Creating life memories. Successful career.
My life has turned into anything but those things. Life really did pass me by. At full speed, while I was lagging in the right lane. Now I wish I wasn’t so crippled by depression and anxiety that I could look back on my life with fuzzy memories. Sure, I did have some moments of joy in my life. Moments, and short periods of time, I felt good about life and my station in it. Looking back now, though, I see that wasn’t the case. I could, and should, have done more. Talked more. Done more. Socialized more. Thing is, when you are 20 or 30, that is the part of life you are still active and finding your way through this journey. When you get past 40, there are more regrets than anything else.
That is the part of depression that most people don’t realize. It’s the power of the brain and one’s emotions to completely shut one down into inactivity. The brain controls your thoughts. And your thoughts completely betray you when you have depression. You start to question everything and anything. Should I go out tonight? Will anyone care I am there? Will anyone care I am NOT there? How should I act? What should I say? What if I make a fool of myself or embarrass myself?
So many thoughts run through my head when confronting social situations. Not many of those thoughts positive. On the few occasions I did manage to get out with people, I was the person that was quiet and didn’t talk too much. Too many thoughts running through the mind. I wanted everything to be perfect, scripted instead of flowing naturally. Instead, I was pretty much invisible. There were acknowledgments and cordial talking.
At the end of the night, when I was driving home alone, I would have an empty feeling inside of me. A feeling of unfulfillment. Feeling of things, I should have said or done. Then the depression would hit even harder. Déjà vu.
The thing about passing 40 is that the things you did 10 or 20 years earlier just doesn’t fulfill you anymore. It’s a sense that one should have moved on and done other things in life. Now, with depression, I just don’t want to do as much anymore. There are days I wake up with intentions of getting to the gym.
After a few hours, that feeling disappears fast. Depression just makes it feel a moot point. Why should I go? Will it make a difference? Help me in any way? I was there yesterday, and it just doesn’t seem to make a difference. There are other days I wake up and feel like tapping into my creative side. Writing a story or a few chapter of a novel. Then the procrastination sets in.
Yeah, I have ideas and feelings I want to put down on paper. But is it worth anything? Is it any good? Would anyone even care what I have to say or write? Or maybe I should contact someone and talk with them today? Haha, not a chance. With depression, the question lingers about rejection. What if the person doesn’t want to talk with me, or hang out, or respond back? Rejection is a killer for someone with depression.
I mean, I didn’t join Facebook till two years ago, when I was 39, because I feared rejection. Then again, part of the reason I did join Facebook was because I was lonely and depressed all the time. Birthdays without anyone to say Happy Birthday to me. Or talk to me about anything. Or include me in anyway.
But depression paralyzed my mind into joining Facebook, because I kept thinking of all the people I have met in my life, and all the chances I will be rejected in connecting with them on the social medium. Truth be told, Facebook has helped me with my depression and loneliness, but at the end of the day, I still have that empty feeling in my stomach. That eternal yearning for something more. Anything different that just the same old stuff.
Of course, I worry about how my depression reflects on those around me. Even my dogs. Yes, I am concerned about how my depression affects my two dogs. My one dog, Stella, is a very active dog. Loves nothing more than having me play with her and a chew toy. Or going in the yard and throwing a ball around for her to fetch and bring back to me to throw again. Or even go for a little walk.
Fact is, with depression, there are days I just don’t want to do any of those things. Worse yet, I get frustrated and crabby with her for giving me that look. That sad look that all she wants to do, the only thing she wants in this world, is to play with me. And I lose fact of that I am her entire world. I mean everything to her. And I feel guilty that I am not living up to my end of the bargain with her. That’s what depression does to me. Makes me feel guilty and angry for not making my dog happy.
Another way depression hits me hard is my eating habits. Remember when I mentioned about my lack of motivation for going to the gym? The same can be said with my diet, or lack of. My weight has fluctuated throughout my life. I know, especially at my age, I should eat healthier. Need to, in fact. I have every intention, too. Honestly.
But I do need my comfort food, mostly so I can cover my depression with food I know will release the endorphins in my brain and trick me into thinking everything is going to be fine. I need to change. I just wish I can be more consistent with a diet. But my depression just won’t cooperate.
Most importantly, I worry about how my depression will affect my niece. I know that my chances to have a family of my own dwindles by the day (and not helping my depressive state), my niece is my world. I hope I can control myself to be there for her, support her, and love her unconditionally.
I want her to grow up happy and enjoy life to its fullest and have a fulfilling life. It’s the smaller things, though, that I worry about the most. Playing with her. Spending time with her. Reading books or playing on the computer with her. Not to hide within my shell and be a ray of sunshine for her and help her to see the beauty in life. Even if my eyesight is cloudy for most of the time.