I am currently struggling with a bout of depression as part of an illness I have had since I was a young adolescent. It drives a wedge between me and those I love most; a wall stands between me and the world and no matter how hard I push against it, it will not come down. I can tell you that writing about it is much easier than talking about it since it becomes hard to form the right words verbally. Physically writing them is the only way I can truly express the darkness inside. I am a ghost of myself, unable to really interact except through writing. I feel very isolated during these times and the only hope I have is that it will pass, whether it be in two days, two weeks, or two months; it will not last forever the way it used to before my treatment. I used to be much worse. The hopelessness was staggering and unbearable, and the sadness too intense to really call just ‘sadness’. Now my depressive episodes are shorter though they can still be quite terrible. I would like to talk about my life and my blogs will cover many things in it, including my illness.
I just started my classes for my fourth year of college and the stress of sudden changes in my routine, such as summer vacation into school or transitioning semesters, triggers the symptoms of my disorder that throws me off balance, sometimes for long periods of time. It is often sudden, like my brain derailing and crashing into the earth, with very little warning if any at all. This time I noticed that I was irritable and overwhelmed with anxiety and unexplained anger, but I tried to refuse to let it get to me. The problem with mental illness is you cannot choose to feel better or not to have an episode any more than one cannot choose to not have a stroke or heart attack. It happens and will-power becomes void. The depression often comes like a severe thunderstorm, gradually but quickly, and drops tornado after tornado, hail torrent after hail torrent, until everything is obliterated and what remains is a hollow shell ravaged by hopelessness so extreme that one cannot express it in its true nature. For me, my efforts to keep going are thwarted, leaving me feeling so worthless and guilty for not being able to even live. It is like a tsunami that engulfs me before I have a chance to take a breath. With depression there is no “getting over it” because it is an illness, a disease, not an attitude or fleeting emotional state. There is so much more to it than sadness and many people do not understand that. In some cases, like mine, there is nothing that can prevent it or take it away. My medications shorten the duration and lighten the intensity, but even they cannot truly heal it.
There is so much I could say about depression and the other symptoms of my disorder that I will talk about in later posts, so I will try to share as much as I can.
For me, depression is a void full of weeping, pain, loneliness, and agony unlike anything I can really describe. Living is worthless; in those times there is absolutely nothing to look forward to because all I can see is darkness. I look in the mirror and see a man I do not recognize, a man with death written in heavy shadows across his face and fear glaring through dark, lifeless eyes. Speaking is difficult, tedious, laborious, and the very sound of my own voice makes me flinch with disgust. I want to be alone, but when I am alone I am terrified and begin to decay, falling apart piece by piece until I am pretty much dead. Many of those around me grow weary of the storm and often find it difficult to stay at my side and they helplessly watch as I sink in an ocean with water too thick to tread and too poisonous to drink. My thoughts consist immense guilt and self-hatred, anger and abhorrence, loss of drive and passion, all of which revolve around an orb of thick black fog and smoke, violently cycling with tendrils of fire scorching and chaining my head to itself. It is a black hole, infinite in fear and malice, and devoid of light or any chance of escaping its enormous pull. Depression is when I feel like waste in a landfill waiting to be incinerated or buried deep in sludge. It is a boa that constricts my brain and squeezes the life out of it. It is a hammer that bludgeons me into pulp that is scraped off the cement and thrown in the trash. It is having aches and pains that make the most simple tasks a major obstacle and the most peaceful moments a tempest. There is no light in depression and for those of you who have not experienced it, know that when someone is diagnosed with depression it is unlike any other emotion you will ever feel. The very intensity of it can be enough to almost feel through the skin, so real it is almost tangible.
With mental illness, you cannot just rethink your situation because it is not a matter of your situation. The most well off people can experience the most unbearable emotional distress while a less fortunate person may not, and vice versa. What I want people to understand is illnesses like depression cannot be fixed and it can take years, even decades to manage it completely. Some may never truly manage it and may need help the rest of their lives.
I am in one of many battles that I fight during the war of my mind. I wanted to share a little bit of it and how I am feeling at this time. I am heavy laden, but I will talk about what gives me the ability to continue in later posts. I haven’t even covered the tip of the ice berg and I am currently working on a memoir that will draw on all of my experiences and show the world through my eyes, the eyes of someone with madness. I just wanted to share briefly the basic characteristics of my depression in my first blog post. I am new at this thing so bear with me. I have so much to share.