Sunday, 10 November 2013

A 31-year-old musings on life with depression

The first time I noticed something about me wasn't normal was when I was twelve. I was walking on the street with my mom, and there had been an accident. Someone had been run over, died, and was now on the ground, covered by a plastic sheet. I just saw a bunch of people gathering, and asked my mom why they were there, and she, innocently, showed me the sheet. I guess she had no idea what was going to happen. She must still feel bad about it, but she had no way of knowing. I remember what I felt when I saw it. It was a feeling that would accompany me forever, coming in many different ways. It was unbearable pain, as if my heart and stomach were sinking inside me. I could feel that person's death, even though I had no idea who it was. We moved on, and down the road someone said that the person who had died was an old woman. That's all I needed. I immediately thought of my grandma, and in my head it had been her. I started crying, and nothing in this world could make me stop. My mom took me to my grandma's house, and when I saw her I cried even more, relieved that she was alive. I still remember the confused look on her face. She couldn't possibly understand why I was so upset. The thing is, there really was no reason to be so upset. Nothing obvious, at least. Because that's what depression does to you. It makes you feel things in a way that can't really be considered normal. Except for you, after twenty years living with them, they kinda become normal. Which is why it can be so difficult to treat it. Because at some point, you start thinking that that's just how you are, and that's how the world works.

On that account, I consider myself extremely blessed. Because I was lucky enough to look for help and find it. And the people who've helped me along the way were extremely competent in their jobs, as they wouldn't give up until they found the exact kind of support I needed to feel better. In my case, it was the adequate medication. Now, I don't really like having to take medication. I wish I didn't need it. And at times I still think myself weak for depending on it. But that is not true. I have a real problem, and I need real help. I've tried to be 'strong' and make myself better on my own. It didn't work. At some point it wasn't a matter of realizing I wasn't strong enough, I should just stop being so stubborn. You don't call a diabetic person weak for needing insulin. Why should I be weak for needing anti-depressants?

Often I'll try to get rid of the medication. I'll think I've had enough, and maybe I'm all better now,  and maybe now I'm cured. It still hasn't worked. Whenever I try to stop, I just have to start again a while later. Now this is not me saying medication is the ultimate solution. Some people do get better without it, with the right support system, talk therapy, hobbies, exercise, whatever. I'm just not those people. I've tried all of that, it's never enough.

What I am saying is this: it's so easy to start thinking that it's normal to live under this fog. That it's normal to see the world covered in negative feelings all the time. That it's normal to constantly under perform. Whenever I go off the medication and then back again, I see it clearly: nothing could be further from the truth. Those feelings are not normal, in the sense that you shouldn't let yourself live like that. Always look for help. In my case, part of the help came from doctors and medication. Who knows what it could be in yours? Could be talking to friends and family, going for a walk, writing, travelling, therapy, yoga, I don't know. The point is, someone or something out there can help you. Never stop looking for it. It may be hard to find it. It was for me. It took me years to find the right doctor and the right combination of meds. Today I can say with confidence: it was worth it.

To illustrate: I tried to decrease my dosage this past month. I had a really low point, then I went back to the regular dosage. And the difference is unbelievable. One day, the world is dark. Every single person in the world hates you and is rejecting you. All your ideas are worthless, and why should anyone ever be interested in anything you have to offer? The best things in the world feel just okay, like being in your favorite city in the world or your favorite band's gig. It's all blah. Nothing is funny, and everything people say makes you want to cry. But then, if you're blessed to find the adequate support for you, the fog is lifted. It becomes obvious that no one hates you, maybe they're just busy. But you're never alone. And yes, you have lots of interesting things to share. And it's possible to laugh, and feel happy and enjoy music, beauty and life once again. And the weight is lifted, and you feel normal. Yes, now you feel normal. This should be the only thing you consider normal and acceptable. Being happy. Nothing else. And if you ever feel like I described in the first part of the paragraph, I urge you, never stop looking for help. And have faith that you will find it. You deserve to see the world without the fog. You deserve the chance to see who you truly are away from the disease. The amazing person you are. Because I'm sure you're amazing. You just lost touch with that person because the darkness is too strong. So keep going, and don't give up until you find the thing that makes you feel better. I'll always keep my fingers crossed for all of you. I know you can do it.