I suffer from depression. I am depressed. If memory serves me correctly, it is something that I’ve dealt with dating back to high school. Back then I was young and care free, it was probably something I would’ve been diagnosed with but never truly felt the effects of. For the record, I have never been diagnosed with depression but I have the capacity to put together enough of the pieces to figure out what the picture is on the box of the puzzle.
It has grown more difficult with age. I used to have a raging fire burning within me. The passion to say “yes!”, the motivation to explore, learn, meet new people, and make unforgettable memories from new experiences. That fire inside has been reduced to a smokey campfire that couldn’t withstand an unexpected overnight thunderstorm. At times, it feels like the firewood and tinder are so waterlogged that any chance of reigniting it will be more than difficult.
Maybe I’m old school. Maybe I’m old fashioned. In fact, I’m definitely both. The thought of medication has always irked me and made me feel uncomfortable. The idea of putting synthetic chemicals in my body to feel “normal” has never been appealing to me. The constant ads on TV that follow the same template as most pharmaceutical campaigns where the side effects listed sound worse than the original issue make me weary.
I can’t explain my motivation for writing this, like most people I’ve never felt all that comfortable when feeling vulnerable. Lately I have found myself bottling up a lot of feelings and writing has always been a preferred release of mine. I also take solace in knowing that I am not alone in this. Mental health often gets swept under the rug and isn’t openly discussed as much as it should be considering how many people struggle with it at times.
It is difficult to describe how it truly feels to someone that has never had to deal with it. It is like trying to tell someone how a first kiss with a new lover feels or seeing your mother’s smile when she is proud of you. Words can’t do it justice.
There are times that I feel isolated. Alone. Part of me craves some attention, while lacking the desire to go out and interact socially. Sometimes getting out of bed in the morning seems more daunting than climbing the highest mountain in the worst of conditions. Sometimes it’s difficult to remember when I flashed my last genuine smile.
I am an only child, but I have a group of friends that I consider brothers scattered across the country. Despite the distance, any time our paths cross the heart of that aforementioned fire begins to spark again. There are many times that I wish they were closer. I know I cannot rely on anyone else to help or make me feel whole, but if they knew the power their text messages and funny conversations had on me… they would be amazed.
My last relationship was the longest relationship I had ever been in. I had never been as close with a woman. I had never found the combination of a lover and a best friend in the same person before. I felt so comfortable in my own skin with her that I felt like it was only a matter of time until I put the biggest diamond I could find on her tiny, little finger. I don’t blame the relationship falling apart solely on depression. She had plenty of other reasons to say “enough is enough”, but when I needed that fire to push me, motivate me to make things right, and go get what I wanted, I found nothing. It makes me stomach turn to this day that when I needed it, it wasn’t there.
There are many nights where I look myself in the mirror after washing my face and brushing my teeth and tell myself “You need to have a good day tomorrow.” Knowing that deep down a “good day” consists of what are every day tasks to some but seem like grand accomplishments to me. Mix that with being my biggest critic and holding myself to an extremely high standard, and it’s a difficult recipe to cook with.
I do not want sympathy or any texts saying “I hope you’re ok” because I decided to write from the heart, open up, and share this. I didn’t write this for those reasons. I wrote this because there are other people that will read this and maybe it makes them feel stronger. I wrote this for the people that feel like their voice isn’t loud enough to be heard by anyone. Maybe someone will feel like they aren’t as alone and isolated as they had previously thought?
There is strength in numbers.
I found myself constantly getting geared up for weekends after a long week at work (which I love because it keeps me busy and gives me a sense of accomplishment), only to go out drinking on the town. In my mind it was a form of an escape, but that alcohol only makes you feel more down the next day. Which is totally counterproductive. I still drink occasionally and enjoy it, but I don’t do it nearly as often as I once had.
Bad habits easily become routine. Monotonous routines that become difficult to shake. Which is why perspective is always important. There are times when I need to take a step back and take off those gray tinted glasses that make everything seem worse than it really is. It’s not easy, but it is definitely necessary to continue to develop that inner strength for myself.
I am blessed to have parents that truly love me. They give me the reminders of how strong I am, how talented I am, and the kind of good person I am during the tough times of self doubt. My heart goes out to the people that aren’t fortunate enough to have their own loving voices in their ear.
Although the path of this journey that I am on has not been the smoothest, I will not let depression define me. I will not let it consume me. I will be strong and grow stronger as I overcome what has held me back from reaching my full potential to this point. I will get that fire burning again. Once it’s burning, I’m going to douse it in gasoline until the flames tickle the belly of the rain clouds that had once extinguished it.
Tomorrow is going to be a good day.