I think it’s time that I come clean. This post was originally going to be something completely different, but I started writing it at work today and, well… I left it there. Since I can’t remember how I started the post earlier, I’ve started over. And seeing as I am currently struggling with depression yet again, I think it’s time to share my story.
First, I want to acknowledge that my current depression is unlike most of my depressive episodes in the past. On a scale of 1-10, one being “I’ve got the blues and life is a mess,” and ten being “I want to die right now,” I’d put the past few weeks at about a 5 or 6. I’m average depressed, which seems incredibly mundane except that this is the first time I have felt this way in at least 7 years.
Since I started working with the law of attraction, practicing self love and positive thoughts, working through my shadow self, exorcising my demons, and generally going through massive personal changes, I have not experienced depression. Every so often, I’ve felt it reaching for me, clawing at my soul, begging to pull me back to the dark side. But I’ve become exceptionally good at fighting it. I’ve felt like the victor, standing strong, refusing to give in to temptation.
Because you see, me and depression, we go way back. The first time I met depression, I was 12. I had just moved away from my childhood home and all my friends. I was living with strangers, I was overweight for the first time in my life, I had stage 3 acne, frizzy hair, no friends, and parents who routinely put me in the middle of their nasty custody battle. I came home from school and went to bed every day. I cried myself to sleep most nights. I idealized and fantasized about the sweet release that death would bring… but that’s a story for another time.
Since then, depression and I have engaged in an unpredictable and somewhat disturbing dance more times than I can count. 7 years is the longest I have gone since the first time we danced. Depression is like a frenemy of mine… the worst thing ever, but also someone with whom I’ve become extremely comfortable. I spent upwards of 15 years immersed in my shadow side. Giving into every sad little twinge, keeping people at arm’s length, snapping at those who came near me, and wearing lots and lots of black. I was emo before it was cool and for long after.
But it wasn’t a style, it was me. It was who I am. And even as I experienced happy times – great times at concerts with friends, falling in love, finishing school and having jobs I loved – depression was always there, at the back of my mind, waiting for my to come back. Everything was tinged with the feeling that my life would never be quite good enough and at any moment, I could slide back into the dark hole that awaited me.
Until I started doing my soul work. I focused constantly on changing my thoughts, changing the way I interacted with people, the way I interacted with myself. I became a person I barely recognized and while it was thrilling, it was also terrifying. Who was I, if not the girl with the face-melting stare and the constant sarcasm? Happy??
Still, I eventually gave into that as well. I loved the idea of being a bright light, an optimist. I really thought I had depression beat. I felt like an addict, feeling that seductive pull again and again, but knowing how to distract myself, I beat it back each time. But the dichotomy of my character is that I’ve wanted so badly to give in. The times I’ve thought about giving in and reverting back to my old self is probably equal with the times I’ve told myself that depression is a part of my past and it’s not who I am anymore.
Yet still, the struggle continues. And while much of my time spent dancing with depression has been somewhere between a 7-10, this time I’ve topped out at a 6.
This time, I know that life moves on, I know that it will get better. I know that I will accomplish amazing things and have so much freedom and beauty ahead of me. It’s just really, really hard to be patient and push through the muck that is my life right now.
My day job is absolutely soul-crushing and I’m constantly tired and on the verge of tears. I hardly have the energy at the end of the day to do more than come home and drink until it’s time to go to sleep. I’ve spent a lot of time contemplating becoming an alcoholic. (No, not really. But also… a little.) I don’t think I could ever be suicidal again, but I think I could be a good alcoholic. It would be an alternative to ending my life – just throwing it away instead.
But I digress…
The point is that last night, my fiance and I got into it about depression and suicide and his opinion that it’s the “coward’s way out.” I told him only someone who has never experienced it would say that. While I know firsthand that it takes a ton of bravery to go on and see what life has in store when it seems like the only way forward is to press the emergency escape button, it also takes a lot of bravery to face what’s on – or not on – the other side. And when you can barely wake up to face another day, whatever freedom or afterlife or oblivion awaits you after death is preferable. It will always be better than what’s in this life.
I get that because I’ve been there. HOWEVER.
I also know that life can get infinitely better. If I had ended my life at 12, I never would have met almost all of my friends. I never would have met my soul mate. I never would have gotten to meet my all beautiful nieces and nephews. I never would have graduated college or had my own apartment or been to Jamaica and I never would have realized how amazing life can be.
I couldn’t see it back then. I couldn’t see a way forward. I want everyone struggling with depression to know that there IS a way forward and it’s LIFE.
You may dance with depression again – hell, you may spend half your life spinning in circles – but there will be days that will make sticking around SO WORTH IT. You have no idea what lies ahead of you.
As for me, I’m in a sort of slow waltz with my beast right now. I cry more than I laugh, but I still have great moments. I had some amazing moments just a couple of days ago with my adorable 8-month-old niece who so easily lights up the room. (I don’t even usually like kids.) I couldn’t imagine having missed her bright, toothless smile or her infectious little giggle that springs forth the moment you tickle her.
I couldn’t have imagined, but now I can and I know that I would never want to miss it if I can help it. No matter how many more dances depression and I have in the future, I know that it will never take me down again. Life is too precious.
Anyways, that’s all I’m willing to share for now. Maybe someday I’ll tell the rest…