Depression is extremely topical right now. It’s currently in the news a lot (especially following Robin Williams’s suicide,) debated ardently in the forums, recurring in blogs and on tumblr – everyone has an opinion. I’ve thought a lot about writing about my feelings recently. Firstly, I didn’t really want to as I don’t really like the idea of exposing myself in that way. Depression is a deeply personal thing and in this society of the “over-share” I didn’t particular want to contribute to it.
But one of the things that I find most difficult about it is that I can’t talk about it. Friends profess to understand, nodding and murmuring while you do your best to describe the aching in your chest, but if you appear fine the next time you speak to them, you can bet your bottom dollar that they won’t bring it up again (and why should they? If it’s so outside their realm of experience, how would they know that it’s lurking in the background even when you’re smiling?)
I live with my parents currently and for the first time ever they can bear witness to it. Before, when I lived away at university or in Vietnam, it was not something I mentioned to them because I didn’t want to worry them. Now, they can observe the violent and intense mood swings, the irritableness, the uneasiness, the tension; all of which I can’t seem to shake. Their reaction is to blame themselves and that is something I really don’t want them to do.
I’ve read that depression is like a fat parasite sitting on your chest. It’s a constant pressure that rests on top of you with its claws clamping around your throat and at the worst of times, it’s a demonic three year old crushing you, bouncing on your lungs like they’re a flabby pair of trampolines and making it hard to breathe.
Having been depressed before, I know it’s going to pass at some point as it has done before. However, any little negative nudge has the tendency to set me off while it takes an excessively great thing to set me going the other way. It’s very hard to cope with because logically I know lots of good things about myself and my life, such as having a loving, healthy family and a decent set of friends that should make me feel better.
Depression is feeling that despite all those good things that happen, life is an empty, dank and dark pit that wants to swallow you whole.
But I’m not going to finish there. Who am I? Some defeated masochist that wants to reveal all their crap and the crud to the world without a slither of positivity? I bloody well hope not as that would be a terrible thing to admit to. I want to think of myself as a fighter, as someone who is prepared to fight the demonic toddler and if need be, think of even cruder metaphors to describe how I’m feeling. I need to force myself to listen for the fairy bells more often – by that I mean noticing the lovely little things that can surprise you if you’re open to them. But I am also fed up of saying that I’m fine and racking my brains for an alternative answer to how I’m actually feeling. Now, if you ask me how I am, I am actually going to be honest with you. That’s my first step. The second is that I’m going to set myself a challenge. I’m going to write something every day, just for the thrill of it. I might not post it on here, but I hereby officially announce my intention to do this. Writing is something that I derive a great deal of pleasure from and I will not throw false modesty into it as I know I am inclined to do. I will write and it will be something positive about my day that only I can do for myself. I’m not going to set myself the strident limit that a lot of people declaring these sorts of experiments tend to do (30 days, a year?) I think I will just try to keep it up until I have reclaimed myself from the brink.
And what-do-you-know, my throat doesn’t feel like it’s clasped as tightly.