Depression is an interesting disease.
It forces you to face things about yourself that you wouldn’t usually even think about.
It brings up memories that illicit unpleasant, and sometimes downright painful emotions.
It fills our present with fear, desperation, hopelessness and anxiety.
It feels as if nothing will ever break through this solid sheet of glass that now surrounds us. Day after day the glass thickens and eventually even begins to frost over. Nothing gets in, nothing goes out. You’re trapped. You’re alone.
So why then, do I describe it as interesting?
I am a sufferer of said disease and have been ever since the age of 15. For me, it is cyclical in nature and comes around, almost like clockwork, every 4 years.
It starts off slowly. I know the signs now. I become irritable, I seek out escapism and find myself playing online games, watching YouTube for hours on end and, my all-time favourite, sleeping a lot more than I usually would. I’m a natural dormouse of a person, but after a full night’s sleep, I don’t then need to go on to sleep another 6 or so hours on top of that.
“What’s the point?” is my brain’s favourite response to me even thinking about getting up and doing something. “You’re tired, just stay in bed a bit longer. You can set an alarm to get you up in time to do everything you really need to do. So just stay in bed. Besides, it’s cold outside.”
I’d lie there for hours, dozing, making up stories, thinking about my past, worrying about my future and steadfastly ignoring the present.
Any time my life shifts away from the now, a little warning bell goes off in my head.
I’ve learned to listen to that bell.
Whilst endless reminiscing and dreaming of the future may be nice, continuous mulling over old losses and failures as well as worrying about what might go wrong, isn’t that productive.
Depression forces you to face loss, grief, failure and fear head-on. It makes you live in it. It won’t let you go until that demon you’ve been hiding from has been slain.
Inside that wall of glass and ice, you feel so isolated that sometimes the only out you can see is death. You’re cut off from the world, and thus feel as if no one would miss you in any case. Facing your demon is too hard to do alone. You know you’ll never win, so what’s the point of fighting? Who are you fighting for? You? How can you be worth fighting for when you’re so weak and pathetic?
It’s a pattern of thought that repeats endlessly until you start to believe it to be The Truth.
Even if, at the start, you knew that it wasn’t, by the end it feels as if it is.
What if I told you that there was a way out? That there had been all along? How would you feel then?
What if I told you that the out was simultaneously the simplest and yet bravest thing you can do for yourself?
What if I told you that the glasshouse, had no roof?
People can climb in there with you to sit close and give you comfort. They can pass tools over the top of the glass, no matter how thick or frosted it may have become; or maybe, they can just sit there on the other side and talk to you. They can help you fight those demons. You don’t have to be alone.
What you have to remember though, is that whilst that wall might be so very obvious to you, others can’t always see it. You might have to ask them to help you out, and asking isn’t always easy.
You risk rejection, ridicule or even people claiming that the wall doesn’t exist in the first place.
Acknowledging this reality is very hard. Understanding that, just as people are free to live their lives the way they wish to, they are also free to choose to not interact with you in the way you wish they would.
It’s another lesson that depression teaches, and it, whilst being harsh, is invaluable.
Learning how to face rejection in a new way, after mulling and ruminating on all the times it has happened to you in the past, is how you grow.
That very rumination, if looked at in the right way, will teach you valuable lessons.
It will also teach you the signs to look for when you do ask for that help. You will be able to spot people who are more likely to say yes and give you the love, affection and tools you need to carve your way out of that prison.
And do you know what? The more you do it, the easier it gets. The more tools you are given, the faster the walls break.
And break they will. I promise you that.
Depression is never forever.
It too shall pass. Learn the lessons it’s trying to teach you, with the help of those around you, and live, my friend. Live.
Life on the other side of the wall is glorious.
One day, who knows, you may be able to see someone else’s wall, when no one else can. Then it can be your turn to sit and talk over the top of it. You can teach someone else how to punch, dig or climb.
Either way, remember, help is but a small set of words away.
Sophie, signing out.