Living with Depression
I am exhausted from trying to be stronger than I feel.
Your alarm is painful... it's loud. You’ve already snoozed half a dozen times. You need to get up.
You put your feet on the hardwood floor.
Your mind cycles through a dozen excuses. A dozen reasons to stay in bed today.
The days change but the routine remains.
You stand up. Yesterday’s clothes are in a pile across the room from you. Those will do.
It’s an illness that fills our news pages on an almost daily occurrence. There's no escaping, this is real.
“Ugh, I’m depressed.” We’ve pretty much all said at some point in our lives. But there’s a big difference between feeling sad, and actually battling a depressive disorder. One is a temporary, bummed-out feeling (and yes it can be awful, it will eventually pass) while the other is a medical condition with some pretty specific characteristics.
People who are depressed don’t all shuffle around with a long face, or cry at any provocation. Instead, we lose interest in the important parts of our lives.
It's not something that happens overnight, it's not a feeling that's erupted because of one incident, nor an immediate effect of a stressful situation. It's a cumulative effect. The past few months or years, the many ups and downs, the pangs of failure, the hurting from many arguments, the disappointments from life's journey, and also, the reactions to each of these scenarios... Total them all up, close them up in a jar, label it as "negative," and tie it around your neck. Walk with that, and you'll feel close to what depression makes you go through. Maybe.
Our symptoms sometimes include us eating or sleeping too much or too little; we may pull away from people and the usual activities we did. We may have low or even no energy. We may often be left feeling numb or like nothing matters in life. We sometimes feel unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried or scared.
Yet still there remains a widespread misunderstanding of the illness... particularly the persistent trope that people with depression should just “buck up,” or “get out more.” It’s not nearly that simple.
Some days, I don’t even want to wake up. I was having a much better time asleep. And that’s really sad. It was almost like a reverse nightmare, it’s comparable to how you wake up from a nightmare so relieved. But each day I woke up into a nightmare. Another day of the same routine, another day of suffering.
That’s the thing about depression, is that a human being can survive almost anything. As long as they see the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily that it’s impossible to ever see the end.
People grow to feel like they are alone, that no one can understand them.
It’s like being scared and tired at the same time. It’s the fear of failure, but having no urge to be productive. It’s wanting friends, but hating even the idea of socializing, let alone going out. It’s wanting to be alone, but not wanting to be lonely. It’s feeling everything at once but feeling paralyzingly numb.
The irony of depression is that people ask questions such as “You’re so happy all the time and you have such a great life! How are you even depressed? Try to open your eyes!” Some will never understand the hell that we feel inside our heads. Maybe it’s because we don’t even fully understand it ourselves.
For me, I don’t want someone to save me. I want someone to stand by my side as I do it for myself. But even in thinking like that, I realize that I’m the biggest hypocrite of them all. I tell everyone to keep holding on until they get to that light at the end. That everything gets better as you continue to wait. I always tell people to have hope. That they need to keep trying because it is too early to give up. That they have so much to love for.
Then there is me.
Barely holding on.
And yet, I am not broken. I find myself that I am breaking through.