So, here is the post I’ve been unsure about writing for a while now but, in the interest of keeping my writing always real and honest, here it goes!
I am depressed, I think. At some point a long time ago, perhaps in my morose mid-teens, I saw a doctor and discovered I was depressed. I don’t think at that point I was offered any medication, perhaps just some brief counselling which I have no recollection of attending. I’ve worn the badge of depression ever since (only visible to those close to me), almost defensively lest anyone dare challenge its authenticity. Having sampled several different antidepressants and types of counselling over the last twenty years or so I am still wearing the badge, albeit quite wearily now.
The reality of being a depressed person
I wanted to write this post and continue writing about mental illness to try and help dispel some of the myths that still invade the topic of depression. I do not generally sit in a corner rocking and crying, listen to sombre music on a loop or exclaim to anyone and everyone that I can’t cope with life anymore. The thought of ending it all doesn’t enter my head, I don’t want to die. I am, on the surface exposed to the world, a relatively normal-looking and sounding person (I hope!). I hold down a full-time job, organise the little lives of my two young boys, ensure life admin and bills are dealt with promptly, keep my house clean and tidy (as much as it can be with three and five year old boys), and manage to have a conversation and perhaps a kiss with my husband occasionally. At work I give it my all, I smile and laugh, and I talk about my life as if I haven’t this grey (sometimes black) cloud cloaking me. When I’m with family I also smile and laugh, and talk about the kids and future events as if they are the only things being held in my mind.
But I am different below the smooth surface. Underneath there is a black hole of anger and sadness which sucks the joy out of everything. Life is grey and I feel irritable all the time. I snap at my husband and shout at my kids over small things, because I am full of rage which I don’t know what to do with. Everything seems pointless, there is no fun or laughter to be had anywhere. Just moving or transmitting thoughts into speech is hard and I’d quite like to just disappear, for everything to stop; I don’t want to talk to anyone, play with my children or generally be there in any space I’m existing in at that point. On days like this the future stretches out like a bleak, waterless desert I don’t want to traverse. But even when I feel like this I usually still carry on, still scramble to drop the kids at school and nursery and get to work on time, and function like nothing is hard. I look and sound fine, I think.
So, what to do?
I realised a while ago that there is nothing much to be done here really. Some days I even question whether I am really depressed, whether I’m actually making it all up. Why should I be depressed? I have a loving family, a good job, a home. Sure I have problems; we have a lot of debt which is crippling and means we can’t afford much or treat ourselves and the kids to nice holidays or days out. My weight is getting out of control, particularly my emotional eating which is one very big manifestation of the depression. But I know nobody’s life is perfect, if such a thing exists.
But depression supersedes all of this; it is indiscriminate in its reach. I am still on medication, but don’t want to keep fighting to find counselling that actually helps anymore. I’ll carry on, exist. Good days for me are days where I just get on with things and don’t dwell on anything, when I feel proactive and act methodically. I can take that. But every now and then I just crumble and my husband has to pick up the pieces, for which I am eternally grateful to him. There is always hope that things may improve in the future, but I genuinely have no idea how to get there.
But for now I can laugh and smile, and be fine. You don’t need to worry about me. Of course everyone’s experience of mental illness is different and I know others’ might be more unbearable than mine. I do think most of us depressed ones will just carry on though, keep traversing the desert and maybe even finding some water along the way.