“How can you be depressed when you have such a great life?” is like asking “How can you have asthma when there is air everywhere?” – Anonymous
One day your seemingly normal self looks at itself in the mirror and fails to recognize the reflection. That day, your thoughts echo louder than your tears. You feel like you’ve fallen prey to a dementor sucking the happiness out of you, without the light of a patronus to protect you, nor someone to nurture you back to health with a Honeydukes chocolate after. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” feels like the most deceitful adage ever, and you feel like you have no one who can understand except the unfamiliar reflection staring back at you.
My tryst with the dreaded disease is not one I’m proud of. It’s a dark phase, and revisiting it is like treading forbidden land. You may have gone through it, or seen someone fall victim to it. You may know of it, but may never have had a first-hand experience of it. Depression never knocks before entering. It may have become a household term synonymous to sadness, but its implication as an actual disorder should indeed be taken very seriously.
Every battle fought is not won with grace. Every suffering is not admirable. I’ve been told it’s a phase that will soon pass when all I saw was an endless tunnel. I’ve been told to stop using my depression as an excuse to “justify” my behavior when I really couldn’t help it. I’ve been told my life seemed too perfect to believe I could be depressed because I chose to not speak of my problems. I’ve been told to look around at people with bigger problems, when all that did was take me down the guilt road. It got ugly, and there is nothing admirable about it; nothing inspiring. I’ve been through the dirty nooks of it. The staring at nothing for hours. The crying on the bathroom floor with the shower and music on to drown out my sobs. From three to no meals a day. From being someone unfamiliar with anger to feeling pure rage over nothing. The self-inflicting pain, loss of interest and dulled-out motivation. The ever-persistent lethargy. From being a social butterfly to an anti-social rat. The mask of normality covering the pit beneath. The insomnia accompanied by the desire to stay in bed all day. The drowning in alcohol, and feeling comfortably numb (Pink Floyd understands).
Depression is characterized by negativity; and negativity breeds bitterness. If you’ve had it, you’ll know how real it is. You tend to suffocate yourself with self-loathing thoughts, but know that you’re not a failure. Even if the selfish act of suicide feels comfortable, hang on to the dim faith that seems like a distant dream. A strong heart is a myth. A brave heart is not. No matter how worthless, how hopeless and how much of a liability you feel you are, don’t give up on the one person who’s always been there for you- YOU. For if you do, you’ll let depression win. Which is basically like letting the bad guy (imagine Dolores Umbridge) get what (s)he wants, because you chose to give in.
My one regret now is not being open to people around me about what I was going through then. I made myself believe no one could understand or help, and assumed people could do without the added concern. I was wrong. Always reach out for help; it won’t come looking for you. Talk to your parents, your friends. See a counsellor if you wish. Manipal offers professional counsellors all week round. I almost considered taking medication. What stopped me was someone blatantly putting the truth across for me- choosing to be dependent on drugs is accepting you’ve given up on yourself. Fight for yourself with all you have before accepting defeat. And so I fought.
To listen to people say they understand when unknown feelings of insanity grip you is not easy. They probably won’t, unless they’ve gone through it themselves. But to know you’re not alone is essential to heal. Depression affects a lot of people around the world, and there are people around you willing to help. I learnt a lot in the past six months. I learnt the importance of friends and family. I learnt to let go of what harms my growth. I learnt my worth and how important it was to give myself the time I needed. Moreover, I learnt to believe the truth behind “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. Not all battles fought are won with grace, but then again, as someone once told me, “A knight in a shining armor is the weakest, for he has never been at war.”
If you feel like you suffer from depression, please don’t hesitate to contact any of the following counsellors:
KMC: Department of Clinical Psychology – 0820-2922415