A take on depression: the many-faced foe living inside you and how you can conquer it.
I have grown up with loving parents, surrounded by ample opportunities to prove myself. I have had a full childhood, a college life filled with possibilities for growth, and a job that leaves me with enough space and time to explore my horizons, to broaden my creative boundaries.
If I tell you I understand depression in its entirety, I would be wrong.
But, I know what it’s like to feel worthless, to think that no matter how hard you try, it will never be enough. To muster all your determination to prove yourself, but give up before even starting. Not because the task is hard but because that voice in your head will not stop chanting, “It’s no good. You will fail.”
I know what it’s like to feel so small, you wish you could cease to exist. No, not to die, but to wish you were never born.
I know what it’s like to be in a room surrounded by “friends”, watching their happy faces with a smile glued to yours, hearing their laughter from far away, as if you are inside a box made of glass. As if they — your friends — are from another planet, and the problems they complain about are so simple, so easy, you can’t fathom why they would be problems at all. And there you stand, that fake smile a part of your identity now, wondering if they would listen if you started talking about your problems.
I know how tempting it is to not answer the doorbell. To not pick up the phone. To pretend to be sick and not go to work.
I know how easy it is to simply lie in bed all day, no hunger in your belly, no light in your eyes, no reason to start the day.
I know what it’s like to look into the mirror and hate your face. To curse those pimple marks, pinch at that extra layer of flab around your stomach, to wish you looked like that girl you saw the other day laughing with your crush. To scream at your reflection, blaming your pockmarked cheeks, the limp hair, the skin that’s not fair enough for always letting you down.
I know what it’s like to not eat anything for days, then picking up your second pizza of the hour, gulping down the food as if it’s the last day you’ll eat. To hate yourself with every bite, shaking, unable to stop yourself from eating one more slice, one more bite. Chomp, chew, gulp. It goes on till the floor is littered with crushed food packets and empty Coke bottles. And you are curled up on the couch, sobbing helplessly onto the cold, black leather, wondering if you will ever be able to pull your life back together.
I know how much strength it takes to dress up and be where you’re supposed to be. To bite your lips when no one’s looking, fingers crossed under the table, hoping against hope no one knows of this storm raging on in your heart.
I know how people scoff when you tell them how you feel. “Why don’t you busy yourself in something else?” they will ask, as if all it takes to feel better is keeping yourself busy. You’ve tried that. It doesn’t work.
“Go for a run,” someone else will suggest. “My neighbour got a treadmill and it helped.”
“If you think happy thoughts, the depression will go away,” they will say, like it’s a magic formula that’s bound to work. If it doesn’t, the problem is with you. You are the loser here.
“You just need more will power,” they will insist. But it is not will power you lack, it is energy, it is motivation.
“Oh for fuck’s sake,” they will roll their eyes, “there’s a difference between being depressed and being lazy.”
You hang up the phone in an instant, terrified, hot tears rolling down your cheeks. They just said what you were the most afraid of — that it’s your fault you’re feeling like this. That if you tried harder, if you stopped being so lazy, you wouldn’t feel this way anymore.
Why is it always so easy for everyone else to see the solution and not you?
“It’s all in your head. If you stop feeling sorry for yourself so much, you will be alright.”
Depression doesn’t start with being sad and end with seeking help.
It is a mental disorder that no one will talk about, and yet, everyone seems to have the solution to.
Often, it is invisible, growing stronger by the day, taking up more room in your heart, filling you with thoughts of helplessness and guilt.
No matter how boldly they claim, unless they are trained professionals, no one can understand depression in its entirety.
Seeking help isn’t akin to waving a magic wand. It is but the first step towards conquering a foe that is intricately entangled with your identity.
The foe with no face, yet hundreds of them.
The foe called Depression.
It isn’t you. It is a part of you.
You can be yourself without letting it overpower you.
You can defeat it.
And the first step to doing that is acknowledging that it is simply something that lives inside you, and believing that you have the strength to kick it out at will.
Yes, it will take lots of effort and time. Months, probably years. And courage. The unabashed audacity to claim you suffer from depression without being ashamed.
It’s difficult, yes. but you CAN do it.
I have done it. I know.