I was diagnosed with depression when I was 12 years old. That was 9 years ago. A lot has happened since then, changes in medications, diagnoses, therapies, hospitalisations and so on. But one thing that has not changed, is the overpowering shadow of depression that stalks me. Sure, I handle it much better now, I cope with less self-destructive mechanisms and I think it’s fair to say I put up a stronger fight. Because whilst my psychosis has been the reason I’ve ended up in a lot of tricky situations that could have potentially killed me, depression is the one that actually intentionally tried to kill me. Depression put me in a place where death was the warmest, safest, most appealing of options and so I took measures to ensure my own demise. If you’d asked me, say, just over a year ago if I felt relieved, or lucky, that I am in fact still alive today, I wouldn’t have answered honestly. Today, however, I can truthfully tell you that I am happy that my suicide attempts did not work. Does that mean I’m all better? No, not fully. Not really. Because even though I’m now in a place where I’m not acting on suicidal thoughts, it doesn’t mean I don’t still get them every now and then. And I’m not trying to overlook that, because I recognise that is progress and I am proud of how far I have come. I am. What I’m saying is that, still, 9 years on, 9 years fighting, I still to this day will have hours, days, weeks, where depression is the solid anchor dragging me down into murky waters. Where depression is a bully on the school playground beating a child over and over despite them already being down.
To say depression is ‘heavy’ is an understatement. I’ve found that lately people are utilising the word depression as a daily adjective in their lives when really what they mean is sad, or down, or upset. “My favourite show got discontinued, I’m so depressed”. “I spent Friday night inside watching movies, my life’s so depressing”. And you know, I sit and a listen and nod, when really, what I want to say is this: “I woke up this morning with a feeling of disappointment and heartache because I didn’t die in my sleep, I’m so depressed.” Or, “I haven’t left my house in three days because even the thought of showering, getting dressed and going out makes me physically sick, my life’s so depressing”. There is a difference between being sad and being depressed. That’s the point I’m trying to make here. Depression is an illness. Depression is lonely and scary and ugly and often deadly.
You know, I’m someone who is genuinely stunned at the fact that there are people out there who don’t know what it feels like to actually want to die. There are people out there who have never got so emotional that they didn’t even contemplate dragging a blade over their skin. Because for me, I cannot fathom a life without those things plaguing my mind. And why? Because of depression.
Now obviously I’m not naive, I know depression impacts different people in different ways, this is just my experience of it all. However there are similarities in most cases of depression, such as the lack of energy, the consistent low mood, anger, lack of self care. It’s an all consuming darkness that is relentless.
This post is even quite difficult for me to write because as I’m typing I’m remembering the times where I truly was trapped in the pits of depression. And how utterly unbearably painful those times were. Times where I would physically and tightly wrap my arms around myself because my stomach was churning and twisting from emotional pain. Times where I would scream and cry for hours and hours because everything just hurt.
Depression will wrap it’s cold body around you and trap you in its embrace. It will make its way into your brain and manipulate your sense of self, your feelings, your actions. It’ll blind you from positivity keep you in the shadows. I became a shell of myself when my depression was at its worst. I felt like an empty vessel, not living, merely existing. It was numbing.
But, with all that being said, it isn’t a life sentence. People recover from depression. And even those who don’t are able to find a place where they can live comfortably with their depression, like me, for example. I know my depression is still there. I’m on 2 different antidepressants currently. But I only get dragged into the darkness on rarer occasions. And even when I do get dragged back, I manage to keep the light in sight and can claw my way back to it. It may take a couple of days staying in bed, a couple of days not seeing anyone, but I always find my way back. Because depression is strong, but I am stronger. I’m going to say that again. Depression is strong, but I am stronger. And this goes out to anyone and everyone who is suffering from depression. I’d like you to read that statement. You may not believe it straight away, and that’s alright. I didn’t believe it at first either. But please, please trust me when I say there will come a day where you don’t just believe it, but you know it as fact, and that day will make all the pain and fighting worthwhile because you will see that you have a life that is worth living, and you are so, so capable of making it such an amazing life.
In August 2014 I lay in a hospital bed connected to monitors and IV drips truly believing I had finally done it. That I was going to die. I look back now and I feel thankful for the doctors for saving my life, I feel grateful that my body fought so hard for survival.
Because things may not be perfect still, but they’re much, much brighter than they used to be.
Hold on. Have hope. Keep fighting and stay strong. I promise you it will be worth it in the end, and if it feels like it isn’t worth it, then that means it is not the end yet. You will get there. Be kind to yourself, look after yourself and remind yourself that your illness is not as strong as you are.
Sorry if this was an intense post. I just really needed to get that all down.