As someone who has been a long-time sufferer of depression, the best phrase I can think of to describe it is like a monster under your bed.
It sneaks up on you when you least expect it. It can be relentless, but it can also strike at times and ruin a perfectly good mood. Being depressed is like living with a constant cloud underneath you. Even on the most beautiful of days, it can pour a monsoon of rain and thunder on you, completely abolishing your good mood!
My depression story began in my teen years. Depression plays severe games with your mind. It tricks you into believing all the bad things you have heard about yourself and transforming them as the absolute truth. I like to say this is when the devil on your shoulder is in complete control, making your life a living hell. I mean a level at which the angel antagonist has completely fallen off the face of the earth.
Of course, adding a physical disability to your life at a time when you are confused and unstable is even a bit more unfair than normal. It adds to this distance you feel from others and lessens your hopeful connection with humanity. Someone could be right in front of you, but when you are depressed, they can feel like they are a million miles away.
Add in being different from everyone else and these feelings linger 10-fold. You feel lonely, you feel empty, you feel like all your connections have been dumped on the side of the road, never to return to its rightful owner. The teasing and ridicule that you are bound to feel growing up differently does not help matters, either. The teasing is what fueled the fire and made me feel my first bout of emptiness.
I wasn’t sure if I mattered to anyone. Looking in the mirror shattered me completely. I couldn’t stand myself. I was disgusted with myself, and to be honest, I was not even sure who I had become or who I was.
My identity had been lost in a fluster of negative and the world’s most unpleasant feelings. Depression is so much more than sadness, and if you are not careful, it can swallow you up and ingest you indefinitely. This is what I felt my depression doing to me; slowly gobbling me up and ingesting me into its bottomless pit of a stomach.
I needed a way out. I could not get lost in the opaque darkness because if I did, I was not sure how I would recover. There was one problem, though, I wasn’t sure how I would ever navigate this miserable maze. It was like I was stuck on a hamster wheel, just reliving the same emotions on repeat. Out of desperation, I found a light of hope in Lifehouse’s music. Music soon became my go-to; my best friend, if you will. Their lyrics soaking into my mind like the world’s largest sponge. To this day, I still give thanks to music for always be there for me and most of all, for passing no judgment.
If you have never been through intense depression, I cannot expect you to know what it feels like. If you have not borrowed my shoes or walked my path, I can’t expect that you would understand. This is precisely why I was not sure who to talk to, and for many years, continued living without many of my loved ones having any idea how broken I was.
At the time, no one knowing is what felt comfortable. If they did not know, how could they assume and judge something I was sure they knew nothing about? However, as time wore on, I found that keeping my feelings a secret was the worst thing I could have done. After all, how could I ask for help if they did not know anything was going on?
I decided that it was time to let the cat out of the bag. When I told my family members, of course, they were supportive and reminded me of their unconditional love. Several therapy sessions and many different clinicians later, I am proud to announce that it has made a world of difference being open about my feelings, euphoria and disastrous included.
Some 16 years later, I sit here typing this out to help others understand what it is like to live with a beastly mental illness. Here I am, confident, hopeful, and cool. Making a world of difference with my writing in the world with my disability advocacy. I am in such a good headspace, one that represents hope and confidence. I often get asked how I am so happy all of the time now. The key to my overzealous sense of happiness is just doing what I love and chasing after my writing dreams with reckless abandon!