That’s the thing about depression

As someone who writes for a living, you would think it would be easy to write down how I feel and I suppose you would be correct. Since I was twelve I have filled endless pages with thoughts and prose; expressing how I felt on pen and paper was the easiest thing in the world. Getting my deepest and darkest thoughts down on a page was the most natural thing in the world and it was the only thing that relived the immense pain I felt, that and slitting my wrists.

As easy as it was to write down how I felt, I struggled with really getting it across in so many words. I tried to tell people, but how can you? What words can describe the dark abyss? What words can describe the screaming inside you? What words can describe the sheer lack of emotion for life? There are no words for this.

There are no words to explain how you find a release in ripping your skin open with a sharp object; with anything you can get your hands on. How do you explain that you leave in the middle of class armed with a pencil sharpener with the intention of breaking it open just so you can hurt yourself? That’s all it was really, hurt. A hurt caused by years of confusion, of unsettlement and unstructured living. A hurt so strong that you aren’t really sure where it comes from, just that it’s there, and it hurts.

That’s the thing about depression; it doesn’t really come from anywhere. No sense of achievement or well wishes will make it go away. No amount of love will cure it. No amount of pleasantries will ease it. In fact, it never goes away. Medicine might numb it a little, although in my experience it makes you worse. Talking to a “professional” (I use this in the loosest terms) might help you come to understand it. However, it won’t ever leave you.

That’s the thing about depression; those who also have it will understand it just becomes a part of you, like your arm. “I have depression”, still makes me feel uncomfortable saying that. What I have come to understand about it greatly is that we know each other very well, my depression and I, and there is a mutual respect. It respects me enough to not overwhelm me too much, knowing I have been through too much and I respect it enough to not prod at it too much, to keep active, to keep healthy, to practice mindfulness and take care of my mental health.

That’s the thing about depression; it is all consuming. It devours every pore, every fibre of your being, every molecule and leaves you defeated. Many people think those with depression are selfish, I have been called it enough in my day, but it’s not about that, it is hard to explain. I suppose it is a bit like when you fall in love and all you can think about is that person, they take over your entire thought space. You can’t sleep, eat or dream without them being in your mind. Well imagine that is what depression is, except turned ugly.  Your mind runs and races with thoughts of self-hatred, of self-mutilation, self-loathing, you’re self-conscious, you think everyone hates you, you’re paranoid, you feel lost, scared, out of control, helpless. Maybe it is selfish, but whatever it is, it can’t be helped and calling someone who is like this selfish is one of the most damaging things you can say.

That’s the thing about depression; when you say something to someone suffering from it, it sticks with them. They over analyse every syllable, every word, thinking over and over what did they mean? What did I do? I’m such a fool. I can do nothing right.

That’s the thing about depression; no matter how far you go in life, no matter what awards you win or academic achievement you reach, no matter if you become king of the world you still think, well…I’m not king of the universe, I’m not good enough. You’re never satisfied with anything you do, so you keep achieving but it doesn’t bring any satisfaction, nothing does.

That’s the thing about depression; the nothing feeling. This is the worst feeling anyone can feel. Not happy, not sad, not angry, not upset….not anything. Not feeling anything is the worst feeling a person can feel, completely numb. The things they once loved in life mean nothing any more. The things that once brought joy don’t bring anything. Nothing.

That’s the thing about depression; or at least what I found to help. Funnily, it was nothing. I learned one day how to do nothing. I learned when things get too much to bear, too overwhelming, too dizzying, too much, to just sit and do nothing. This nothing has become a regular routine in my day to day life. To fill up the nothing, I breathe and concentrate on breathing but that’s it and it has kept me breathing!

That’s the thing about depression; when you learn how to manage it, you can keep it under wraps. You can keep it locked up in a little box and just take care of it. For people with depression, talking out loud about it can feel very uncomfortable. It makes me squeamish but I still try. In fact, hearing other people talk about it is very overwhelming as it makes you think “wow, other people know how I feel, I’m not a freak or a weirdo. I’m not alone”.

That’s the thing about depression; you’re not alone.

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