It’s so easy to forget that the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Too easy to think that because your loved one’s attitude or overall demeanor has perked up, they must be better, when in reality, it’s not that way at all.
Being happy and depressed is like walking into a sunset. The light is ahead of you, bathing you in its rosy glow, and yet you still feel the ever-present shadows creeping along behind you, threatening to plunge your whole world into darkness if you don’t move quickly enough. Depression is a slippery slope, and it’s not something you can just get over. It’s an illness, not a feeling, and those of us who have it deal with it every damn day of our lives. People with depression can be happy, or sad, or excited, or disappointed, just like anyone else. Sometimes the symptoms aren’t as obvious as we think they should be. But just one step backwards can send you sliding back into the darkness, fumbling for a bit of light to find the way out.
When you’re having a good day, most of the time no one can ever tell you’re depressed. Sometimes these “good days” can last for years, but one bad day can be enough to send you spiraling back down into the deep black pit that most of the non-depressed world thinks of as “traditional” depression, as if you were a genie being sucked back into your bottle after years of freedom. They call this recurrent depression, and it keeps you on your toes every time a bad day rolls around, knowing that with one wrong move or one more unkind word, the darkness will catch up to you.
When you’re depressed, you’re not happy because you want to be. You’re happy because you have to be. You have to stay one step ahead of that slope, that dark cloud that threatens to envelop you.
It’s a terrible thing to be at war within your own head, because it’s a battle that you will only ever face on your own. You know there are things and people worth living for, but it’s so easy to become frustrated when none of those things can help you. No matter how hard they rub the lamp, they will never be able to set you free, so you contemplate smashing it, knowing that you’ll destroy your physical form in the process but it doesn’t matter because any kind of freedom is better than being held prisoner within the confines of such a small space. For some people, the need for freedom is all-consuming. But your soul isn’t the only thing released when you smash the lamp; all that pain streams right into the hearts of those closest to you. It’s freedom, but at a cost, and it’s rarely a step taken lightly; truly a last resort, knowing those who are left behind will be sweeping up the pieces of your shattered lamp, wondering what they could have done to help you.
If you are depressed, stay in the light. Find people you love and trust to hold onto your lamp when you’ve been sucked back in, once again fighting the war within the confines of your head. If your friend entrusts you with their lamp, keep it safe, and remind them that they are loved and that they are not alone. Sometimes one wish is all it takes to bring you back out of the lamp and into the light.
Genie, you’re free.