This is a guest post by Mark R. He does a great job of addressing many of the misconceptions associated with depression and articulating the chronic nature of the beast–helping loved ones and friends who haven’t experienced a mood disorder understand the illness better. He ends with hope. And I want to reiterate — there is always hope.
Sometimes depression is not what most people think it is.
Sometimes depression doesn’t make you hide under your bedsheets or eat ice cream from the carton or weep in your therapist’s office, or any of the other tropes from movies and TV.
Sometimes depression is not easy to define or even understand; less like a big, dark ominous cloud and more like a tense conversation that you overhear but can’t make out the words, only the tone of the voices. Sometimes depression feels like a cliché, and sometimes it’s as unique as you are in the universe at this very moment.
Sometimes depression doesn’t stop you from going through your day and trying to manage your responsibilities like everyone else. Sometimes you seem normal on the surface, even when you’re carrying the burden of depression alone in your soul.
Sometimes you wish you didn’t feel compelled to hide the despair within you, to show a brave face to the world and then withdraw to a bathroom stall at work, quietly sobbing because so much is overwhelming and there’s no relief in sight. Sometimes there are no tears, only sluggish emptiness.
Sometimes depression takes a vacation from tormenting you, maybe an hour or an afternoon, occasionally for days. Sometimes you feel real joy in those moments, and you’re able to laugh and love and you wonder if this is how most people experience life. Sometimes you even forget about the darkness, until it subtly creeps back upon you. Sometimes it occupies a small corner of your life, and sometimes there is nothing else but depression.
Sometimes depression doesn’t overwhelm you with grief. Sometimes it’s a little voice that whispers to you, “you’re not worth it.” Sometimes that voice doesn’t hurt you at the moment you hear it. Sometimes it’s the 10th time, or 100th, or 1000th before you start to believe it.
Sometimes depression doesn’t stop you from being grateful for everything you have. Sometimes you can love others deeply even when you can’t love yourself.
Sometimes depression doesn’t mean you want to harm yourself. Sometimes thinking about death doesn’t mean you want to die, it means you think about what the world would be like without you in it, maybe from a fatal disease or accident. Sometimes you wonder if you’d feel relief if your doctor gave you an expiration date. Sometimes you skip over the death entirely to ponder what happens after, whether you’d leave behind a legacy or the universe would simply carry on, unaware.
Sometimes you wonder if anyone would miss you if cancer took you, if your absence would really affect anyone else’s lives, if anyone would shed a tear besides reflexive weeping at your funeral, and sometimes you fear how few of them would. Sometimes the thought of an empty funeral is scary.
Sometimes depression has companions, other illnesses and disorders and behaviors that amplify your depression and each other. Sometimes depression causes physical pain in your nerves, your muscles, your joints. Sometimes it’s impossible to tell where one condition ends and the next one begins. Sometimes you wish you knew if one is causing the others or if they gain strength by feeding off each other in an endless loop.
Sometimes depression makes you turn your back on those you love or run from the people who bring joy to your life, because you feel at your core you don’t deserve them. Sometimes you think that they agree.
Sometimes depression is all of these things. Sometimes it’s none of these things. Sometimes you are acutely aware of all of these feelings. Sometimes you know nothing more than you simply don’t feel right.
Sometimes you want people to leave you alone, because you don’t know what to say to them about how you feel. Sometimes you worry that your depression is hurting them too.
Sometimes you crave someone to hug you tight, to love you unconditionally, to encourage you and stand with you as you seek treatment. Sometimes all you want to hear is that, despite what you feel at this moment, the world is still beautiful, you’re still capable of happiness and worthy of receiving it, and the future still holds amazing possibilities.
Sometimes there is still hope. Sometimes that’s enough.