Those are the words my dad said to me when I tried to explain my depression to him. “I know what it’s like. Everyone has down days at some point, and they feel really sad or depressed.”
“No, that’s not depression. Not everyone knows what it’s like, and not everyone has experienced it.”
He insisted he was right, as he always does, and the discussion ended. Or rather, I shut myself up and refused to discuss it more. What’s the point in explaining something to someone who has already made up their mind without bothering to listen and understand? There is none.
A short heads up: I’ve been on a half dose of my medication (a generic form of Lexapro) for the past week and a half, so this post may be a bit more “down” than my usual ones. I figured I should write about depression while being in the midst of it so that I could hopefully explain it better. At least, how I experience depression. It looks different in each person.
Sometimes depression hits me out of the blue with a crying spell. I just start crying and I don’t know why. Or sometimes I will start thinking really negative thoughts about my life and myself and then I become so frustrated with myself that I start crying. I want so badly to not have depression. To be able to think clearly on my own. To be myself without need of medication.
The other week, I realized I was in a depressive spiral. All I was thinking was that I go to work most days, and then I come home, maybe watch TV or scroll Facebook and then once or twice a week hang out with my boyfriend. And I couldn’t think of anything worth living for. And I felt hopeless and empty. Nothing mattered. I thought maybe I was just using my boyfriend to have some small joy in my life and that I should stop because he deserves better.
Or tonight, a couple hours ago, when I started to feel depressed. Over and over again I thought about my depression and how it messes up my thinking. And how awful it makes me. I was angry at myself. I was so frustrated that I started crying. Why? Because depression tells me that I’m not worth loving. That no one could ever love someone like me. That everyone will become as frustrated with me as I am with myself. I can convince myself that people will leave. That I should leave them before they can leave me. It twists my thinking.
Sometimes I recognize when depression tangles up my thinking. Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I recognize it, but I can’t stop my thoughts from tumbling in circles.
I’m so thankful to have a boyfriend who is willing to listen and love me even when I’m in the middle of my worst depressive episode or a panic attack. Who continually reminds me that he loves me even when I don’t love myself. ^_^ And I’m thankful to the doctors who have found different forms of medications to help the chemicals in my brain become more balanced. I’m also thankful for my friends who are willing to skype or FaceBook message me in the middle of my panic attacks. They have helped calm me down and have talked me through the worst moments.
For the moment, I have hope. I know the light will hide sometimes, and I won’t always feel or see it, but it will come again.
P.S. If you know someone struggling with depression, remind them to be gentle with themselves. And please, please, please remind them of how much you love them. We don’t want you to have answers to our depression. We just need you to sit with us and listen and love. And maybe hold us tight when we break down into tears. Or hold our wrists when we try to punish ourselves. Help us love ourselves better, and above all show us love.