I consider myself a pretty happy, content person. Life is usually good. I have a loving family, incredible friends and attend an amazing institution with countless opportunities. I can’t find much to complain about.
Sometimes life is so good that I even forget I suffer from depression – until it smacks me in the face, all like “Hey, don’t forget about me. I’m still here.”
I write about sobriety often, but I never really write about depression and negative self-image– the underlying issues that I let drive me to rock bottom. I don’t like to focus on them because I feel like that gives them some sort of power over me. But that strategy isn’t biding well lately, so maybe confronting them will do some good.
As most people know, mental health disorders go hand-in-hand with alcoholism/addiction – whether it be depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, etc. I, an alcoholic, am no exception. I have battled depression and anxiety since a young age and have been on medication since middle school. Sometimes I beat it, and sometimes I let it beat me.
I’ve never been ashamed of this per se, but I’ve never broadcast it either. I see no reason to, as it doesn’t define me.
Except when it does.
The thing about depression is that it can elude you for so long, and you think maybe, just maybe, you’ve moved past it. Then it rears its head again, resulting in such a defeated feeling. Maybe something triggers it, maybe nothing does. It doesn’t matter. It manifests itself and becomes a daily battle. The littlest things set you off, and you find no joy in tasks that you would have enjoyed the day before. Nothing sounds appetizing. You’re just hollow. The world seems a little darker, a little sadder, no matter where you look, no matter how beautiful of a day it is. Every task is so daunting when all you want to do is stay in bed and do nothing, feel nothing.
You learn to ride it out, to force yourself to act as you would on a normal day. You get up, get dressed, make yourself eat. You learn to distract yourself, to be with people you love and who love you. But that only lasts so long and sooner or later you come face-to-face with yourself again – your worst enemy in this cycle, the one telling you you’re not a good person, you’re not worthy of feeling happy.
And occasionally you may let someone make you feel worthy, make you feel like the person you want to be. And then when they change their mind, all you feel is broken and empty, left to pick up more pieces than there were to begin with, kicking yourself for letting your self-worth be dependent upon someone else’s feelings.
Somewhere inside you know that you are a good person, that you deserve good things and good people in your life. But that voice never outweighs the voice telling you that you’re not and you don’t. It’s not a cry for attention or validity – it’s literally how you feel in the deepest parts of yourself.
And depression in sobriety? Even more consuming as there is no easy way out. You are forced to confront your demons, to ride out the discomfort. You wonder if you’ll ever experience emotions like a normal person, instead of these escalated highs and lows. Will you ever be able to maintain a relationship without scaring the other person away? Will you ever be able to wake up and be positive that you will have a normal day with normal reactions?
And what do you do when you feel like it can’t get better, when you feel so disconnected from everyone and everything?
“You cry a little and then you wait for the sun to come out. It always does.” –The Sound of Music
And it really always does. Sometimes in a few hours, sometimes a few days, and sometimes even weeks. But it always finds its way back into your life if you’re willing to walk through the darkness.