“It’s going to be okay.” “Just get over it.” “Depression isn’t real.” That last statement is the one that really makes me upset; depression isn’t real. I hate that statement. For those that don’t know, yes, depression is very real.
Statements like these are made by those who aren’t diagnosed with depression but are quick judge others as they battle depression and anxiety.
I was initially diagnosed with depression in my early teens. I had just found out that I was adopted and I wasn’t handling it well. The feelings that I experienced were of rejection and confusion. My parents decided that I needed therapy, but medication was not part of my treatment plan. Matter of fact, I was told I didn’t need it.
I didn’t know a lot about depression back then and I really thought that depression was a “state of feeling” in that present moment. Even I believed that depression was not a big deal.
“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. ~ Stephen Fry
My diagnosis came during a time when “mental health” wasn’t considered a big issue in our country. It was at a time when it was easier to just stay quiet rather than talk about it. Nonetheless, I wrestled with this illness in silence and alone; trying to make sense of it all. It wasn’t an easy feat.
I cried a lot. I spent a lot of time alone, hoping and wishing for the pain that I felt to go away. I listened to music; a lot of it and different kinds. At the time I really liked listening to Barry Manilow. I really love his voice. I learned how to write poetry. I never showed it to anyone. It was my own personal writings to help me get through. After all, what I was feeling wasn’t “real.”
When I thought I was “feeling better,” I stopped writing. I believed that I was just fine. However, I still spent time alone. Listening to music was my favorite thing. It was the only way to keep my sanity in check and to also escape from those that helped contribute to my pain.
The pain I felt was very real. My need to feel love came from the wrong places. I was in a self-destructive mode that I didn’t want to face. But the pain was so overwhelming. The tears came more frequently. I was asked the usual question, “what’s wrong” or “why are you crying?” Honestly, I didn’t understand why I was crying myself, or I didn’t know how to put it into words. Communicating my pain wasn’t easy for me then, and it’s still not.
“Depression is the most unpleasant thing I have ever experienced. . . . It is that absence of being able to envisage that you will ever be cheerful again. The absence of hope. That very deadened feeling, which is so very different from feeling sad. Sad hurts but it’s a healthy feeling. It is a necessary thing to feel. Depression is very different.” ~ J.K. Rowling
What I did know was that I was in a very dark place and I wanted to get out. You know that space I speak of; the one where you can see a small patch of light, but constantly struggled to reach. You would wonder if the light was real or was it a figment of the imagination? If it was my imagination, that was my only sense of hope.
This year hasn’t been a good year for me. I fell back into my depression episodes. There were a lot of contributing factors this time. Health, financial, but it was mainly people in my life that I need to let go of. It’s hard when some of them are members of your own family. Needless to say, I struggled again in silence. I convinced myself that no one would understand and some people didn’t.
This time, I was medicated, but I somehow plateaued on my medication. I knew I needed help. I picked up the phone to get an appointment with a counselor. I knew that I needed that support from someone that did understand exactly where I was. Someone that validated that depression was indeed real and helped me cope with it. I know that depression is real, but I was dumb enough to try to convince everyone else that it was real. That was my mistake. I didn’t have to prove anything to anyone about my depression. It only mattered what I knew to be true.
“Mental illness is so much more complicated than any pill that any mortal could invent ”
~ Elizabeth Wurtzel,
Depression is very real. Depression is painful, not just emotionally, but physically too. Every day is a victory when I get out of bed. There are some people that can’t do that right now. It’s a struggle.
What has someone told you about your journey? I would love to hear from you.
Until Next Time…