Trigger warning: suicidal ideation
I was 27 when the depression crept in. I remember feeling satisfied that I had successfully numbed the pain of walking into a toxic work environment every day. Anxiety would ebb and flow through every single soul trying to stay afloat—except for mine. I had mastered hiding my misery through my smiles, through my jokes, and through my shimmery filtered glasses.
I traded empathy for apathy. I traded humility for indifference. I traded kindness for inauthenticity. I was the robot I needed to be in order to stay alive. Unfortunately, when you shut off the physiological pathways to feel any negative emotions in your brain, you also shut off the ability to feel positive ones. I was so far gone in my numbness I lost the ability to laugh. I lost the ability to care. I lost the ability to feel joy. Happiness slipped away from my fingertips along with my will to live.
I started to fantasize about what I could do to myself to promise I would never have to live through another tomorrow. This is what depression feels like. It makes you believe that this lifeless state you are in is permanent. Depression will lie to you over and over again. It will make you believe no one sees you, no one hears you, and no one will miss you when you are gone.
I had to do the bravest thing I had ever done in my life. I asked for help. I took whatever courage I had left and shared my vulnerability with a few trusted loved ones. Depression makes you feel like you have to go through this alone, when in reality, the ones you love will hold your hand through the darkness and guide you back into the light. This is what surrendering to depression looks like. Accepting you have it and accepting you need help.
I started antidepressants mixed with therapy to recalibrate my emotional well-being. I remember feeling the initial shame of my ongoing treatment, but as I started healing, I became grateful to have access to these resources that saved my life. Now I speak openly about mental health in hopes to break down the shame of seeking help.
I can now feel joy again. I can now live for and through many more tomorrows. I can now navigate through my depression by accepting that it is here to stay, that it is a part of me, and that I will have to learn to function through it. This is what surrender looks like. It is the opposite of giving up. Surrendering to my depression forced me to unravel every facet of its existence. It taught me to recognize how it lies to me and how the weight of a heavy day will not last forever. Depression may be committed to me, but it will never be the death of me.