“If you know someone who’s depressed, please resolve never to ask them why. Depression isn’t a straightforward response to a bad situation; depression just is, like the weather.
Try to understand the blackness, lethargy, hopelessness, and loneliness they’re going through. Be there for them when they come through the other side. It’s hard to be a friend to someone who’s depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest, and best things you will ever do.”
― Stephen Fry
My movements are slower. My thoughts are bleak. Nothing about the future, present or past seems positive. I look down and to my right a lot. I’m not seeing anything and I’m not thinking anything. I’m horribly sad. I can eat and I can sleep and I can work and I can watch movies or TV. Usually these things keep the depression at bay. But when I wake up or work is over or the show ends I’m back there. Living the nightmare of slow, ponderous, numb thoughts of sorrow.
I’m able to write this but the process is slow. I’ll type a few words, stop and feel the pain again. I can imagine not being able to continue. I’ve sat with the remote control in my lap unable to turn the TV on. I just spent several seconds looking at the cursor, mesmerized by nothing. The dull ache of depression enveloping me. I ran nine miles yesterday and the post run endorphins kept the misery away for several hours. I had a reprieve, a vacation from the suffering. But I knew it was waiting, silently waiting, to come back and assume control of my consciousness.
I’ve looked at the Golden Gate Bridge and thought, yeah, I could jump from there. That’s possible. That would end the pain. But my wife loves me through all of this and I love her. My children love me through all of this and I love them. My physical health is excellent. There is a lot to look forward to if I can ever get out of this. So I have to say no to suicide. It’s too final, there’s no coming back from that leap into the ocean. Anyway I’d probably regret my decision half way down.
The doctor upped my meds last week. It takes time. I’ve got to be patient. I’ve got to continue to swallow pills, including those I take to keep the panic attacks at bay. I have a two-a-day steady diet of medications. Yippee. I don’t like having to take pills. It feels like defeat. It feels unnatural. It feels wrong. But if I didn’t take them this would all be worse.
It’s hard to talk to people about this so generally I don’t. Of course people who’ve gone through it understand and know what to say and what not to say and what to ask and what not to ask. Some people who’ve not suffered depression don’t assume to know “what you’re going through” and are sympathetic, even encouraging. That’s nice. But a lot of people make it worse — if you tell them about it. Some don’t believe depression is real. Some don’t believe a person should take medications for it. Others assume that you’re dealing with psychological problems. The notion that your body chemistry is out of whack doesn’t seem real to them, or they think that surely you’re dealing with some issues. Yes, I’m dealing with depression, that’s the issue. It struck at a time in my life when everything is fantastic and I’ve nothing to be depressed about. Oh sure I’m dealing with existential angst and am becoming increasingly aware that my time on this planet if finite, but those thoughts don’t depress me in and of themselves. I’ve accepted that reality.
One thing that helps is hearing from or reading about other people who have suffered depression and made it out. If I can make it out of this I’ll sure share that. Right now I can share what I’m going through. If you’re reading this and you’re experiencing this type of pain, know that you’re not alone and know that you’ve got to keep going and to keep trying to get better and that you can’t ever give in to it completely. You mustn’t do anything that is irreversible.
I wrote some suggestions for people going through depression a few months back, I’d encourage you to check that out.
I’ve been writing about this a lot. Someone asked me if I was afraid of who might see it this blog being this is viewable by one and all. No, I’m afraid of who might not see it.
It helps a little to write about it but it helps a lot to put it out there with no shame or guilt or reservations. I’ve nothing to feel ashamed of anymore than a person going through a physical ailment does. I did nothing to bring this on and I’m actively trying to end it. Yet I do not feel like I am a victim. The cloak of victimhood is often used to abdicate any responsibility. I am not responsible for the depression but I bear a responsibility to myself to be treated and cured. I’ve got enough pain right now that I don’t need to add playing the role of the victim. People suffering from depression need not be pitied. For god’s sakes it’s not a death sentence (however much may exist the feeling that happiness has died). A kind word, a smile, a hug and validation of our story is what we need.
We also need to know that others are out there and we are not alone in our misery and we can see it through no matter how dark our minds are now. I feel pretty damn miserable right now and I feel like it will never end. But it will.