I don’t need a book or lecture to remind me that depression is a physical illness, and not something that is just made up in my head or a weakness on my part. I don’t choose to battle this demon over and over again. I know exactly what has caused this latest bout, but I won’t get into it on this blog because I really don’t want to pull anyone else from my personal life into something so public. But even though I have come miles from where I was three years ago, just a mild cruelty from another person can cause me to spiral.
I am fighting back as best I can, but again I know this is biological in nature because I can actually feel it deep in the core of my being. Depression feels like a physical ache, a dullness, almost like a heavy suit made of lead that the universe forces me to wear and walk around in. Depression isn’t just feeling sad, it is the inability to feel joy. It affects everything I do, everything I see and everyone I interact with on a daily basis.. I have difficulty concentrating, I lose my appetite and have trouble falling asleep, mixed in with the dark moods are bouts of anxiety that arise seemingly out of nowhere. The constant battle of highs and lows is like riding the world’s most unpleasant roller coaster. Sometimes looking at pictures of friend’s babies on facebook, or seeing a loving couple walking down the street will reduce me to tears. The subway tends to bring on bouts of sadness. I don’t know if it is something about the stillness, the anticipation of getting home, or that I have to sit and deal with my brain but I tend to fall down the rabbit hole on long late-night trips. Or maybe it is that while sitting there I have a tendency to notice everyone around me, and little things remind me of what I lost. I honestly don’t know, but those long late night commutes will cause all sorts of negative thoughts to swirl in my head.
But I fight back with every tool in my arsenal. I write, I do all the cognitive behavior therapy techniques I know to dissipate the dark clouds that want to engulf me. I silence the what if, what if, what if narratives that play out like a bad repeated record.
What if I was still married?
What if I was working more?
What if that last date had worked out?
What if I wasn’t so damn broke?
I know these things aren’t rational and I there is no point in dwelling on anything that is hypothetical but the thoughts linger nonetheless. I know I am not alone and that there are millions of others out there who fight with this monster. For some of us we have been at war with it our whole lives, maybe its is partly genetic, or from whatever traumas we have endured but we still have to fight a mental illness on top of our every day obstacles.
I write this piece with no answers, no quips or nifty conclusions at the end. I write this for release as it tends to inexplicably help me when I do it. Maybe one day the medical community will develop medication that actually works without so many side-effects. One day doctors will find the biological mechanism that causes depression, and the stigma towards patients who suffer from it will disappear.
I have to remind myself how far I have come, and how much better I will be in the future. To my fellow suffers of this disease I say…hang in there. Whatever is troubling you shall pass, and you will survive it. Avoid the temptation to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol and try to not fall into the trap of self-destructive behavior. We are all loved and cherished by many, never forget that. We will get better…we are just battling a disease that doesn’t have an easy way out.
- Depression in Men (everydayhealth.com)
- Brain scans, blood samples could lead to customized depression treatment instead of ‘trial and error’ approach (medcitynews.com)
- Online Therapy as Good as Face to Face (marginalrevolution.com)
- Why I can’t just get over it and be Happy – Depression is an Illness (julietjeskeblog.com)