Depression is like a dinner guest who invites themselves and stays as long as they want.
You start out asking them to leave, not understanding who they are or why they are there. But after a while, after one hundred refusals or more, you’re too tired. You give up. They are there forever, you think, and that’s it. The whole experience becomes eerily familiar, perhaps because it has happened before.
Maybe the worst thing about depression is it will stay away long enough that sometimes I forget I had it (or rather, have it… or at least, will probably see it again). Life blends into a joyous collage of fulfilling activities and vibrancy that becomes the norm.
Then, with no warning, I feel the shadow again. That goddamn shadow.
Things that used to make you happy are now unfulfilling. You have 1/32 of the energy you used to, and this needs to be used on essentials, like grooming, and appearing normal so nobody asks, “Is it back?”
No, it’s not back, I’m just tired. It’s been a long week. Work has been tough. I’m worried about the economy.
Whatever the excuse, you have it ready because of all the things you do not have the energy for, reassuring those around you is at the top of the list.
These essentials you spent energy on are eventually forgotten. Going to work is a necessity because you’re hungry… sometimes… and rent needs to be paid. This requires money. Even this is hard to remember because you hurt everywhere.
Emotionally, physically, psychologically, it’s as if somebody has scooped out what made you who you are.
You are empty and have nothing, while simultaneously too overwhelmed to wade through what holds you down. Exhausted in every way possible, you forget the person who picked flowers after a rainstorm or fed a lost puppy for a week until the owner was found. This shell is who you are now.
There is no light at the end of the tunnel. It’s a loop and that thought alone is depressing, but you have won this battle before. Previous battles have been simple, while others have been complicated, maybe even a bloody massacre. You may not remember your victories, but another will come. You will find a photo of yourself laughing, or an invitation will stir excitement deep inside you and the paralyzing fog will lift, if only slightly. You will remember not who you were, but who you are.
As you reemerge, slowly stepping back into yourself, you may see there doesn’t need to be a light at the end of the tunnel because you are carrying it inside of you.
Depression comes without warning. There is nothing hauntingly beautiful, quirky, or romantic about it or anything it does to you. You know this. When it sinks its teeth into you, tearing at the tender meat of your brain and heart, it impacts everything down to your bones. You lose who you are, evaporating into this not-person who stares blankly back at you in the mirror in the morning, forgetting to shower for a week. This is not romantic.
Eventually, however, you will remember you are the one in control. You have overcome this before, and you are able to do it again if you treat yourself gently and with kindness. There are many roads out of depression. You may use one repeatedly or different ones at different times. Just bear in mind it is a battle you can win.