Depression – Being stuck in quicksand with your hands tied behind your back
This overwhelming feeling of hopelessness. Nothing matters, nothing will ever change. This weight that pulls me down, keeps me down. This dead fire inside me that I feel will never burn again. This darkness that is torturing my soul. Tears, indifference, despair and helplessness. Why get out of bed when everything around me feels like grey molasses? Why try to shower when just thinking about the task deflates me into a wrinkly balloon? I don’t have it in me. I don’t need to have it in me because I don’t matter. I am just a burden to society and those around me. I am drowning but I am starting to enjoy the sensation. I don’t deserve better. Why eat? Why drink? Why try? I don’t care anymore.
Depression can feel just like that. It can be cold indifference. Or utter despair. It can be slowness or panic, Depression is a not a weakness of character. You are not a bad person because you suffer from depression. And it is definitely not your fault. Depression is something that you suffer from, not something that you are. Depression is an illness, a poison that makes everything that you feel and think toxic. It sucks all your energy and hope out of you, and it makes you feel like you don’t even deserve to exist.
There is a difference between feeling depressed and depression. A lot of people confuse those two. They say that they are feeling depressed when really, they might just have a moment of sadness or hopelessness. Depression affects your ability to function, it is more than just a feeling or a fleeting moment. It is an experience that takes over everything, and has a lot of symptoms that are not even related to emotions. Depression can kill, it leads to suicide. It can ruin lives, relationships, physical health.
Depression can be triggered by something, might it be the season, or life events. It can also come out of nowhere and it has no clear trigger. Or it is one of the markers of several mental and physical illnesses. Depression is not the same for everyone. It doesn’t discriminate though, it can happen to anyone. You can have a mild depression, a clinical depression, major depressive disorder. Someone might still be able to function for a while in depression, others might not be able to leave their bed for weeks.
I know that there is the general conception that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance. Recent studies show that that is not the case though. Instead, the chemical imbalance is the sign of depression, not the cause. There are studies that suggest that depression, unless caused by other medical or psychiatric conditions, is the result of trauma. It could be childhood trauma, neglect during childhood, a lifechanging event, a death of a loved one, a break up, losing a job. The connection is not always very obvious. It might sometimes be such an invisible trigger that the connection is almost impossible to find. Either way, depression caused by other illnesses, by chemical imbalance or by trauma, it is never your fault. It is an illness. It is not something that you have subconsciously decided to do to yourself.
Depression has been my companion for a long time. I am “lucky” that it is not a constant for me. I suffer from bipolar disorder which means that I go through episodes of depression, but also through episodes of hypomania/mania, mixed episodes and even stable times. My depression can last months upon months, or just a couple of weeks. I can never know what episode I will be in next week, or how severe the episode will be. I think I need to add that I am not on any medication so I am kind of experiencing the full-blown symptoms without much of a buffer.
Sometimes my depression gets triggered. Something overwhelming happens in life and depression comes knocking at my door. Sometimes it is the natural crash after a longer time of mania, And sometimes it just happens because, well, that is how bipolar disorder works.
Most of my depressions are pretty severe and they make life extremely difficult for me. I lose all my energy, all my motivation, all my confidence, I become empty, yet so full of negative emotions. Some depressions I cry a lot, I can’t stop crying. I get so hopeless and helpless. And when you have trauma in your background, then it is easy to be sucked into a world where what abusers have said about you, to you and, have done to you, is all true and well-deserved. I feel like the most rotten person on the planet. I can’t make myself go shower, I can’t make myself eat. I can’t find any joy in anything. Everything is dark. And then there are the suicidal thoughts, always going through your mind. A feeling of that nothing will ever get better. That it would be better for everyone if I just disappeared. I am like a piece of old furniture. I don’t matter in this world.
Other times, depression can be milder in my case and that translates into emotional numbness and indifference for me. I just don’t understand why. It is like I am tied down and I just give up. I don’t fight it, I am passive. I can sit on the sofa and just stare at the wall. Not sad, not angry, not anxious. Just nothing. Numb. Indifferent. I don’t care. I can’t move, I can’t do anything. I feel like an empty sack, like a deflated wrinkly balloon. I am nothing. I feel nothing. Nothing matters.
Even though I know that my depression won’t last forever (the nature of bipolar disorder is switching into different episodes after all), it doesn’t feel that way. It feels like depression is all that there is, and it is all that will ever be. It is never going to get better. I am a failure, I am a burden, and I need to disappear. Nothing matters, I don’t matter. This is all I am, and this is painful.
Depression is not the worst kind of bipolar episode for me. Mixed episodes can be more painful, more dangerous, more draining. In mixed episodes you experience all the thoughts and feelings of depression, but they are mixed with the symptoms of mania, creating some fucked up soup of anxiety, depression, suicidality, horniness, and self-destructive behaviour. I know how to handle depression at this point. I hate depression and it always puts my life on hold: I feel so tired, so drained, so unmotivated. But mixed episodes are something I can’t control at all and that leave me in dangerous headspaces.
Depression is one of the most treatable mental illnesses. There are medications, there are therapies, there is a lot of things that one can do for self-management. But all that doesn’t seem like easily obtainable when you are actually in depression. Because you don’t have the energy to reach out or to do the things you know you are supposed to do. But please reach out to someone when you suspect you are in depression, there is help out there.