I stepped outside into the beautifully hot, humid sunny summer afternoon and my heart absolutely soared. It felt like it was only a moment ago when I was deeply immersed in the dark, bitter chill of winter, wondering if I would ever feel the warmth of the summer breeze again.
Depression is like that. When you’re up to your ass in it, you can’t accurately remember what joy really feels like. It’s this elusive, far off place, what while you have clear memories of it, you can’t actually feel it. Sort of like when it’s snowing, cold and bitter outside. You remember what the summer feels like, but you can’t actually feel it when the wind is chilling you down to your very bones.
Depression is a silent thief – robbing you of joy, pleasure in even the smallest things. You become a shell of a person, you may even look “okay” on the outside at times, but on the inside you are an empty vessel, devoid of anything real and good.
A common comment made to me when I was drowning in depression (by those without any true understanding of the illness, I might add) was that I wasn’t “present” or “real” with those around me. Well, duh.
That’s what depression is.
I wasn’t myself for a very long time. When I count back on my fingers and am truly honest with myself, the depression went on for 18 months. Sometimes I was able to function as normal, and make it look good on the outside, when really, on the inside I was dead to practically everything and everyone around me. For a while there, I tried to make it look like I was alright, because I desperately wanted to be, even though I had no real idea how to do it. It took a long time for it to become obvious to me (and everyone around me) that I needed help. It took me even longer to a) get the help that I needed and b) to truly act on that help.
It’s so sad to me that there’s not more resources and assistance and – most of all – understanding out there for those of us struggling with depression. The isolation and stigma attached to this disease is sometimes more devastating than the disease itself.
Depression changed my life. Depression led me to end my marriage. It prompted a re-examination of my entire life and belief system. It saw the end of decade-long friendships.
Oddly enough though, I have come to realize that depression served a very real, very useful purpose in my life. It brought me to a point where I lost almost absolutely everything. And for me, that was necessary. It wasn’t until I hit absolute rock bottom that I was able to start rebuilding from scratch. Building the life that I really want. And while I may not be finished the re-building process, I am happy and content with my progress. I know now what I have to do in order to keep it from returning. And like the winter winds on this gorgeous day, depression is but a vague, chilly memory for me.
I have a feeling that it’s going to be summertime in my heart for a very, very long time.