The Summer that Depression Decided to Stay
How internal pain is not always healed by external forces.
This is a brief description of my personal experience with depression year-round.
In my experience with depression, the winter months are the hardest. It's dark all the time, you need layers and layers just to be comfortable outside, and, mostly, you just don't want to go outside. The gas bill gets higher and higher every day, because you have to have the heating on. It all causes a huge struggle for me and my depression. I remember sitting down with my counsellor some time in February after a huge breakdown and telling him, "It's ok, because summer's coming and I always feel better in summer!"
Summer did, indeed, come. The days got longer and lonelier as everybody left my small university town to visit their families all over the country and, in some cases, in different countries. The place I work at shut for summer, and I had no extra income. I have no hobbies to speak of, and everything cost money and usually required multiple people. I was feeling pressure from my family to make the four-hour journey to go and visit. The depression did not go away.
Somehow it's harder sitting in your bed alone when sun is shining through the blinds—I could not bring myself to buy curtains because then I would have to put the curtains up and I wasn’t sure I could get out of bed. It's harder to explain to someone why, in the middle of a hot day, you're cowering under your duvet with tears running down your cheeks. And, frankly, it's a hell of a lot more annoying. I just want to enjoy my summer! Can't I enjoy the fact that I have all of this freedom and no work to catch up on?
I find myself looking forward to autumn constantly. But that voice in the back of my head tells me that with autumn, soon comes winter. Those dark days. So, it becomes hard to even look forward to anything. I told my counsellor I didn't need any appointments, so I truly had nobody and nothing.
It's bizarre to sit here writing this now. It's still summer and my depression is still hitting hard, but it seems like it shouldn't be. The skies are clear, I've rediscovered a love for baking, reading and writing, I'm taking some online courses and I have everything in order. My mind still has a storm raging through it, though.
And the bottom line is, that that's OK.
Summer is not the cure for depression. Some fresh air does not fix mental health issues. It makes us feel better for a brief moment, but all of those moments must come to an end, and sometimes the crash back down is ten times worse.
So, if you're reading this and you've ever felt like you don't have the right to be feeling depressed—it's sunny, things are going well, you have everything you need—remember that your depression doesn't care. Depression wouldn't care if sunlight was shining 24 hours a day—it doesn't go away. And it's OK. It's hard, but you're not alone.
If you notice someone doesn't want to hang out over summer and is staying inside all of the time, don't chastise them and tell them that a bit of fresh air will do them good—we've heard it all before and, chances are, we've tried it all before. Support your friends who are still depressed when all of life seems to be going OK. Always keep in mind that internal pain is not always healed by external forces.
If you are struggling, reach out to somebody.