Depression is not clear cut. It can be hidden under it’s myriad of symptoms which can all be put down to the demands of living a busy life.
I’ve always tried to be there for people who have suffered mental health issues, but I have to admit that I had no idea, absolutely NO idea of how it felt. It’s the pits. It’s dark, lonely and it’s grip is suffocating.
When I was diagnosed with depression last year, I read a number of general posts about depression that declared, “I’m always here if you need me. The door is open…” and they are beautiful posts, but sometimes depression is not obvious to the depressed. It sure fooled me, I didn’t wake up one day feeling sad. I very slowly started to have the energy, life and feeling seep out of me, it was so gradual that I missed it. I thought I was exhausted and angry- I didn’t realise that my spiral had landed me in a pool of deep, dark depression.
I was so shocked by the feeling of depression, or the lack of feeling, that I wanted to share that so that others could recognise it. In fact, I’m sure the people around me witnessed my spiral far more clearly than I did myself.
I wrote this after I was diagnosed, and even reading it back reminds me of how dark that time was. I hope that by identifying exactly what depression was for me when I was in the thick of it might help someone else see it in themselves or in someone they love.
It feels like it will never leave, but it does. Slowly it releases it’s grip and you will feel again. The light creeps in at such a pace that you barely notice it, until the sun on your face makes you smile again and you feel it and you recognise it. That will happen.
This is what I wrote at that time. If this resonates with you, speak up. Just do it. You don’t have to feel that way. I promise.
I am depressed.
It took me a very long time to realise that depression has me in it’s grip. I’m writing this the day after I finally accepted that I can no longer do this alone, and that all my usual strategies for pulling me out of my funk just don’t work. Or I simply can’t be arsed to try.
This year has been emotionally turbulent, and due to the past six years being equally as rough for different reasons, I haven’t had the emotional strength to keep my head above water. I kept kicking my legs, despite not being able to see the shore. I’ve previously read enough self help books, meditated and manifested, and posted billions of quotes that assure me that this too shall pass so I just kept swimming.
But it all became too overwhelming. I felt like I just ran out of steam, and despite being equipped with plenty of possible motivation from Oprah, I just broke.
I thought I was tired and run down, with a little sadness thrown in. I visited my GP, with my three fighting boys in the middle of the school holidays. My heart was racing, but I knew if I didn’t ask for help then I would fall apart. I promised them a reward if they could just sit in the waiting room without losing their shit for just a little while. I looked at the only person in the waiting room with my boys, a fragile, tired looking old lady, with a mix of desperation and surrender.
It took me approximately three seconds to fall apart. My Doctor was great, we talked, he offered suggestions and recommended a Psychologist. He also recommended anti depressants which I refused because I wasn’t that bad.
Fast forward six weeks, and I really was that bad. I am that bad.
After my Doctor suggested anti depressants I started to notice how much I was suffering. I noticed that I’d anticipate major events with little excitement. I had stopped meditating, reading, walking at the beach and just about everything that had meant something to me a year ago. I spent most of my sister’s wedding day in a daze, forcing enthusiasm and wondering when the excitement of such a worthy day would kick in. It did when the alcohol kicked in, then I was fine.
I googled depression symptoms which I had very surprisingly dodged doing up until that point. It was the highest I had scored in any test for a very long time, and it made me wake up and acknowledge that this isn’t me.
I’ve started my medication, but I want to record what this feels like, what depression feels like while I’m sitting in it.
I can’t feel much, the only emotion I tend to feel is anger. I can feel flat then something will throw me into a rage. I’m constantly irritated by just about everything.
I don’t have much interest to do anything at all, other than eat and watch Netflix. I have bought books that I haven’t read, stopped cooking, blogging and loving everything that meant so much to me not so long ago.
I think EVERYTHING is lame. I’m so critical. I can’t understand why people like songs/movies/anything- don’t they know how dumb it is?
I make plans with my friends, but struggle to be present with them, to remember words or keep track of their conversation. Sometimes I wonder how they are able to talk to me and interact with me when I feel so angry at best, and so dead the rest of the time. Who takes over my body and goes through the motions while I feel I’m rotting inside?
My house is a mess but it’s too overwhelming to clean. I feel like I never stop, that I’m so busy, but nothing seems to get done.
I bark at my children. I feel selfish because I don’t have the energy or strength to deal with their needs, because I’m so broken that I simply can’t. Sometimes I even tell them, “I can’t deal with this right now. Can’t you see that?” And I know it’s wrong but I don’t feel guilt, only a pang of sadness that passes because I just can’t.
The only excitement I feel is when I crawl into bed at night, excited to be ending the day. Mostly I fall asleep immediately, but I wake constantly seeing in each hour as it passes until 3am when I give in and turn on Netflix or catch up on absolutely nothing on Facebook.
I watch my children perform and participate in things, I go through the motions by clapping and cheering like a robot. I can’t feel it. I can’t imagine feeling it again. Every now and then I get a glimpse of what it used to feel like, kind of how I imagine recovering from amnesia might feel. Like a trapped memory that I’m not sure is correct, but gives me a clue that something else exists.
I go to the gym in the hope that an endorphin will trigger the tiniest spark. Then I give up. Then I start again, then I give up again. Repeat.
Quotes that used to inspire now only manage to enthuse me enough to roll my eyes. My eyes are exhausted from all the rolling. I’m beyond manifesting. I can’t.
The beach used to be my soul food. I’m still drawn there, and it’s nice, but nothing stirs inside me. I can see a beautiful sunset and say that it’s beautiful, but I can’t feel it. It’s as if I had a superpower that I no longer have. Like I could fly with ease, without thinking or trying but now I can’t and I don’t know how I did it before. I know the sky, the stars, the ocean used to make me feel, but now I can’t and I don’t know how to. And I’m too tired to try. I’m not scared to, there’s just nothing that makes it happen. It’s gone.
I’m angry. I feel like a victim, and I’ve never wanted to feel that way. We’ve had so many things happen to our family over that past few years and I wish that someone else could take some of the shit. We’re done.
Someone we trusted broke our trust and it has broken me. I can’t forgive because I’m so angry and that pain is such a burden that I feel it in my chest. Anger owns me and I hate it.
It’s just too much, and even too much is just not worth any effort.
This is my experience of depression, I’m sure it is different for everyone. Depression doesn’t always look like sadness. Sometimes it looks like someone who stops being social, who has no patience, who jumps to anger. It’s a different person to the one you know so well, but it’s not always sadness. Just so you know.