I really hate admitting this, but I need to because it’s the truth: I am depressed.
I have most of the signs and symptoms. Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood, feelings of hopelessness, feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness, loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities, decreased energy, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite. They are all there. Those are the textbook, telltale signs; I have a disease in my brain.
I have been trying to fight off these symptoms for months now. Months!!! They are so persistent and no matter what I have done or do, they will not stop. They will not go away. It’s maddening. I am frustrated that my mind and my body keep betraying me. Inside, deep inside, I know that I am okay. I know that I am absolutely kicking ass at life. But somehow, that understanding, that message, keeps getting lost in translation. It rarely finds its way to the surface no matter what drugs they give me, no matter how much therapy I do, what books I read, what I do or say, or how I try to cope. The positive, peaceful, happy me is completely trapped inside of a brain that doesn’t work the way it should be working and it’s pissing me off.
I quit this defective brain, it’s broken. I want a new one.
The hardest part, for me, is that when all of these symptoms are present, I feel like a failure. I am failing at life, at grief, at happiness, at positivity, at hope, at being a functional member of society. I am failing myself, my children, and my friends. I am letting people down left and right because with depression comes an inability to feel ‘normal’ or to ‘fit in’. So, I isolate. I hide in my house from people, from events, from life. Being a depressed misfit feels a million times worse when you are in a group of people who appear happy and whose brains seem to be working just fine.
Nothing makes me feel more alone than being surrounded by people. Nothing.
Sometimes I feel great. My depressed side disappears and I am happy and have energy and confidence. I can get things done; from doing the laundry to applying for scholarships for grad school. I work out, I meet up with friends, everything feels good, I am hopeful. But, there is always this nagging, persistent feeling underneath all of my happiness. It is depression. It is lurking there beneath the surface. No matter how happy and present I may be, I have stopped trying to convince myself that ‘this is it!’, ‘I have finally made it!’ I have arrived at the space where the ‘happy’ people reside; that ‘this is where I live now’. I can finally relate to the people who have brains that allow them to see the world through rose-colored glasses because I am one of them now.
I used to do the hope thing. I would experience these happy periods and think I was cured. But always, the despair and depression return. Without fail.
I try to enjoy the energy and joy that I experience when it is there. I try to relish those times when I want to be around people and I can actually relate to them easily; when nothing feels forced or fake. But I know now that those moments are fleeting and that realization frustrates the shit out of me. It would seem that I spend the majority of my time beneath the surface, looking up at the ‘normal people’ walking around up there. I am not naive. I know that everyone hurts and that everyone has a story. Maybe they suffer from despair like I do. Maybe someone I know hurts and feels a deep sadness just as I do. Everyone has highs and lows in their lives. Everyone. I think that some of us just tend to have more lows and more difficulty trouble seeing the highs.
The real problem isn’t that some of us are depressed; it is a treatable disease. The real problem is that society rejects those of us that are. When you type the word ‘suicide’ into a search engine on the internet it comes up with “Suicide Squad.” It’s fucked up. We are sent the message that being happy is acceptable; being depressed is not. So we become chameleons. We learn to adapt and to try and fit in as best we can. When we feel brave enough to venture outside, we smile and laugh on cue, even if it feels forced. We play the game when we are out and about. When someone at work asks me, “How are you?” I reply, “I am pretty good, how are you?” But inside I am screaming, “I am not okay. My heart is broken into a million pieces that I can’t seem to put back together. I am worried I won’t ever feel consistently happy. I do not fit in and I do not want to be here pretending anymore. I am exhausted. I want to go home.” When you spend most of your time pretending to feel some way that you are not, it is exhausting. Bone deep exhausting. I cry alone. I don’t want anyone to see me fall apart; it feels embarrassing and I feel ashamed. I hide my tears from everyone except my dog. He’s invited.
What if we all shared our real feelings? At meetings, at the grocery store, with our friends and family? What if I was honest all of the time with my feelings?
Would strangers look at me like I was some kind of lunatic? Would my friends and family reject me? Would they grow tired of listening to me vent about my sadness, my hurt, and my trauma? The truth is I don’t know. My own mother tells me to “put on my armor and be tough.” She clearly doesn’t want to hear it; the hurt and sadness in her daughter’s words. But what if I don’t want to be tough? What if I need to crack, crumble, and break for what feels like the millionth time? That has to be allowed and okay; right?
It does. It absolutely fucking does. What isn’t okay is deciding to take up residence there. Most of the time it is a fight to try and stay afloat. Most of the time it is easier to give in and let go of trying. My hairdresser informed me the last time I saw her that my hair was going to go through an ‘awkward phase’. All I could think was that my entire life has been an awkward phase. A lifetime of feeling awkward, alone, and trying desperately to climb out of what feels like a chasm of hurt and pain.
For now, I am going to try to focus my energy on healing no matter how tiring that may be. I am going to continue to rely on those select few that I have shown my secret self to; my darkest places.
I am holding onto my hope; I am being protective of it. And most importantly, I am determined to keep going; to put one foot in front of the other.
I may never fully fit in but I think that fitting in is a lie. I think that most of us feel like misfits and outcasts at some point in our lives. There is no ‘us’, there is no ‘them’ we are all human and we all hurt. I just wish we could all share more often, love more often, cry more often, and be seen – really seen – when we need it most. Can we please do that? Please?
I found this in my journal the other day:
“You are love and love will find you. I promise. But remember: it is here right now. It always is. Sometimes you just forget to see it. Keep it in your pocket”
Let’s all try to keep our happy in our pockets. And catch each other when we’ve lost it.