I might get some backlash on this, I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. I’m in a place right now where I’m not really worried about it. Writing this is a struggle, but I’m hoping it’s therapeutic. In other words, I’m in a bad place, but there’s a touch of anger powering me through.
I should state the following:
I’m NOT a medical professional in any capacity. All the opinions here are my own, the experiences my own.
I’ve stated it before, but never as blatantly as I’m about to. I suffer from Major Depressive Disorder. In other words, depression.
Depression and I have a strange relationship. As awful as it may sound, I sometimes refer to it simply as Dee. Yes, I’m aware it isn’t a real person, but it comforts me more often than real people do, and that’s a problem.
Both my parents had issues so it’s likely it was passed to me via genes. It really doesn’t matter. There was enough that happened during my childhood to have caused it ten times over. I’m not here to rehash those years.
What I’m here to talk about is the response I get from probably 98% percent of the people who know or suspect that I suffer from it. If you’re afflicted you’ve probably had this experience when you either reveal the disease or merely confide that you’re feeling down:
Let’s take work, for instance, the voice conspiratorial. “I hope you feel better. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone. It’s okay if you go home/stay home. We’ll leave you alone.”
The words vary, but the sentiment is always the same. You should be ashamed, you just became a bother, and just in case it’s catching we’re going to put you in an unspoken quarantine. Quite often, the talk doesn’t happen, the isolation unofficially occurring without a word.
I sometimes wonder if people have any idea what’s coming out of their mouths or what their actions are risking. If I was an alcoholic would they offer me a drink so I felt better?
Isolation is more time for depression to strengthen its grip on my mind. This is the point when depression starts to feel like Dee for me. Dee wants me alone so she can tell me everyone doesn’t care for me like she does.
Why? Because if I’m around other people her control over the narrative will weaken.
Therein lies the problem with isolation (the worst thing you can do to a depressed person, in my opinion). Once Dee has control of the narrative she repeats what works best on you.
They think you should be ashamed of how you are. Look at how they push you away. It’s like all those other times when you needed someone. Remember those? If you don’t, then I’ll remind you over and over and over. You’re better off alone. Stay away from them. They don’t understand.
And so it snowballs…
Notice how there are grains of truth in all of the above? That’s how depression manipulates. It’s further depressing that people are more enlightened about AIDS than they are depression. More times than I can count people have looked at me as if it was catching.
And people wonder why some take their lives.
I’m additionally hampered because I can’t take medication. After more than a dozen terrifying experiences on meds I put an end to it. That’s including the one that so debilitated me I had no idea a viral infection was ravaging my lungs.
I’m also an INFJ and my personality type is prone to depression. We see all that’s wrong in the world and suffer endless frustration that people can’t apply common sense to the solutions. In addition, I’m empathetic (also goes hand in hand with being an INFJ) and absorb bad moods from others. That’s one of my biggest triggers.
Oh, and I live alone (unless you count my roommate, Dee).
So, why am I still alive?
I do as much that’s preventative as I can. That means positive self-talk, meditation, mindfulness, and exercise. Sometimes, though, that isn’t enough. Sometimes, like last weekend, too many triggers come at me too quickly. In cases when I’m overwhelmed and dive too deep I reach a point where I welcome Dee.
How do I come back from those? That I won’t divulge because that would get me into trouble even though it isn’t illegal. It’s drastic, but so far it’s broken Dee’s grip just long enough for me to realize how far down the rabbit hole I’ve gone.
Another choice is the Suicide Prevention Hotline. I’ve never used it, but it’s on my phone. In the US the number is 1-800-273-8255. That isn’t to say I haven’t sat on the bathroom floor and stared at it. Those who work the Hotline understand that the best medicine for depression is talking.
So, if in the past I wasn’t explicit enough about my condition, there you are.
Maybe by writing this I’ve let some people know they aren’t alone, and maybe some sufferers will feel a little more brave about their condition. Maybe, too, I’ve given non-suffers a glimpse into what it’s like to have a disease that casts you into the darkness. And then have to endure those who could cast you back in.