I have been debating over discussing this topic since so many others have, but everyone lives differently and sees the world differently too. There is an important issue that has been fluttering around the internet moreso since a beloved celebrity took his life on August 11th.
That ugly little word that makes those of us who suffer from it hide away, locking the secret deep down. The stigma of having depression is so overwhelming that we fear opening the Pandora’s Box. There is no knowing what will escape from the Box or how we will be perceived by those we trusted. For those that can openly embrace their depression, I salute you.
I was diagnosed with depression when I was 12 years old. That means I have spent half of my life living with depression.
When I was diagnosed, I was in therapy for a while. I had other issues that I was dealing with as well (epilepsy, anxiety, ADD, anorexia). I was suicidal and doing my best to overcome the catastrophe of my parents’ separation. I was young. I didn’t know what to expect from a world that I didn’t fit into. My solace came from writing and finding people that related to me who knew what was down the rabbit hole. Depression was something I had to live with; I refused to medicate. Note: the medications I took for my epilepsy (not during the time of my diagnosis) are also used to treat depression.
I will not attempt to explain how depression feels. Honestly, I don’t think it can be explained. If you don’t live with it, you will really never understand the insecurities, the mood swings, the disinterest, the guilt, the hopelessness, and the overall loss of passion and color in your life. Depression is rooted deep in your genetic make-up. Everyone who has depression experiences it differently. Depression alters the way you live your life.
How did I live with depression? I found outlets, yes, and I made a few friends. I moved to a different school district (not my own choice). I made it through high school with few major setbacks (mostly manic and low mood swings). I made it through college the same way. I kept my mind and body busy (basically trying not to give my brain any time to feel depressed). Sometimes, my depression overwhelmed me. Other times, it did not. I did my best to not show how I suffered. I hit a really low point in 2013. Recovering from that episode has been a very long process and I have the very best friends to thank for keeping me alive. It took a long time to feel in control of my life again. I am just one person.
I have never been open about my diagnosis (except with a few friends). To me, having depression isn’t all of who I am – it is just a part. Granted, I do feel like a big bubble of depression on occasion, but I keep pushing through. I think that makes a difference. I don’t know if some of my friends realize that I do cope with these bouts of depression. I know they love me even if they do.
The rabbit hole is a long way down, but even Alice made it out okay. Even today, I battle with myself. I often wonder if I should start counseling again, because I have been deeply depressed for too long. I spend random nights crying on my kitchen floor for hours (this can be set-off by the smallest of things). There are also many nights where I forget all about my depression — it is nowhere around. There are many things that a smile can hide…
About 3.4% of people who suffer from depression commit suicide. For those of us who have lived through the worst times, I am glad you’re here.