I’m not sure when I realized I was depressed. Maybe it was in the past couple of weeks. Maybe I’ve been depressed my entire life. I have no idea.
I’ve known a lot of people who have said they’re depressed, who would talk about the prescriptions they were on, and write detailed blog posts about their depression, noting every last depressed idea they had. I always thought it was sort of bullshit – the way they talked about it, shrugging it off like it was no big deal, popping pills, then doing the same things they’ve always done. I never related to that because in a way I just thought it all seemed like it was a part of some shitty Tumblr fad. That probably sounds awful and I’m not trying to make light of anyone’s mental illness. All I’m saying is that it didn’t feel genuine to me.
I’ve always been a bit sad, yes, but it was always something I kept hidden. It was something I never wanted people to know or talk about, which all seems a bit silly considering I’m writing about it now. But I guess I always thought that other people were sad or depressed, but not me. Never me. I wasn’t allowed to be sad. “The torch is passed to you now. You’ll be the one to make this family proud.” I remember my uncle said that to me after my brother’s funeral. My brother killed himself. My brother was depressed. But not me. Never me.
Last summer I was walking through a parking lot with a friend and they said to me, “I can’t even imagine you being sad. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you upset about anything. You’re always so upbeat and happy.” I didn’t say anything back. Isn’t it interesting the way other people see you vs. how you see yourself vs. how you actually are?
I can read people well. I know how to give them what they want – how to be the endlessly charming girl who has all the witty comebacks, who can make people laugh, who can make them feel good and loved when they need it the most. I’ve been taking care of other people my entire life. I can sense without words the things people need and then I give it to them. That’s just the way I am.
It’s easy to write viral listicles giving positive advice about best friends and dating and the things people can relate to because if you think it’s easy to fake it in real life, it’s even easier to fake it on the internet. All I can do is explain, so I’ll try.
Depression is feeling paralyzed in your body. It’s waking up and knowing exactly all the things you need to be doing and should be doing then realizing 12 hours have gone by and you haven’t done a single thing.
Once you’ve realized you’ve accomplished nothing, it’s showering under scalding hot water for just a little bit too long, thinking about how much you fucked up today because hey, at least you felt something today, right? It’s knowing all the steps to take you where you need to be but feeling as though everything within your being feels like it weighs a thousand tons.
It’s sinking deeper and deeper into a sadness well and knowing the only thing that can pull you out of it is yourself. It’s wanting to do better, to be better for you and for others, and feeling like a constant disappointment.
It’s having a conversation with your mom, your friend, the mailman, whoever, and feeling a sense of relief when they finally go away. It’s knowing people legitimately care for you but not wanting to burden them with your thoughts and emotions. And what would you say anyway? I’m depressed. I’m sad. I feel nothing. No one really knows how to respond to that language. They just want you to stop talking about it, get over it, and move on with life so they can get back to their regularly scheduled program.
It’s choosing to spend Christmas alone because you’d rather be alone than have to fake it one more time. Next year, you think. Next year I’ll be better.
You see it is important to understand how damaged people don’t always know how to say yes, or to choose the big thing, even when it is right in front of them. It’s a shame we carry. The shame of wanting something good. The shame of feeling something good. The shame of not believing we deserve to stand in the same room in the same way as all those we admire. Big red As on our chests. – Lidia Yuknavitch, The Chronology of Water
There is so much I want to do with my life and yet I’ve realized lately I’m scared. When you’ve always been the one taking care of others, the one who “will make this family proud,” this is not an easy thing to admit. I told that to someone last night and their response was to immediately laugh and dismiss it, “Uhm, are you fucking serious right now? You scale volcanoes and mountains for fun. Nothing scares you. You’re not scared. You’re fine.”
Yeah, okay then. I’m fine. I’m fine. That’s all I ever say. I’m fine. It’s something that slips so easily off the tongue I don’t even have to think about it anymore. The truth is – yes, you can do things people think deem you a strong person either physically, emotionally, or both, and you can still not be fine. It’s actually quite incredible how can you do all sorts of amazing things and still not be fine.
The holidays are almost over and soon it will be January. Soon it will be a new year. Soon it will be my birthday. Life goes on, the seasons change, we begin again – these are the things I know.
I wish I could explain the reason why this winter has already been harder than others. I wish I knew how to fix that little bit of sadness that creeps in. I wish I could disappear into drugs or drinking or pills the way others so easily can but that’s just never been me. So I’ll take it one day at a time and I’ll try to do better. Next year, I think. Next year I’ll be better.