The word depression terrifies me.
No matter how many times I say it, it doesn’t get easier.
As someone who has struggled with mental health issues for years, I am a huge advocate of reminding others to take care of themselves, but I would honestly much rather succumb myself to the latest remake of “IT” than look someone in the eye and properly admit that I’m suffering from depression.
Maybe because it sucks, a lot. Or because I hate the idea of feeling weak to this intangible thing that pretty much takes over my life. Or maybe it’s just so overwhelming and and I can’t figure out how to shake it and I really wish it wasn’t happening at all.
Yeah. It’s all of the above.
A few months ago, I was living on the edge. And I wish I meant that in a super cool way, but I was really just on edge at all times of every day for a long while. For weeks, I waited for my phone to ring while my Dad attended multiple doctor’s visits to figure out why he just didn’t feel himself anymore. When he was (finally) diagnosed with cancer, I was always anticipating my Mum’s voice on the other end of the phone telling me that the clock was ticking faster than Dad could keep up with and I’d have to pack a bag and jump on plane sooner rather than later. As I made it through every day wondering what was happening a province away, I was walking on eggshells in a toxic household and desperately trying to find a new place to live, while also waiting (im)patiently to hear back about a potential job offer in a new city.
Eventually (not surprisingly) my stress levels peaked. And of course, every situation that I was sitting on burst into fruition at the exact same moment. And just like that amusement park ride I hate so much where you’re sitting in your seat at the bottom of the tower and out of nowhere, you sky rocket to the top and then suddenly fall to what feels like your ultimate death only seconds later — it felt like almost everything about my existence hit the ceiling and immediately plummeted into this sinking direction while I was trying to absorb what was actually happening.
And here we are.
Now sure, it doesn’t always happen that way. Sometimes depression just, well, happens. And I’ll let you in on a not-so-secret secret: it happens to the best of us. Even the people who look like they’ve got it all figured out, all put together. [And yeah, you better believe I’m talking about those people who’s entire Instagram feed screams unicorns and rainbows and sunshine with inspirational quotes] Depression has no preference on who it tortures and if they haven’t already filled you in so you’re in the know – I’m willing to bet that several people that you cross paths with on a regular basis everyday feel the pain.
The way depression slips into our lives is a different experience for everyone. At the worst of times, it can feel like hitting your absolute “rock bottom”; sometimes, it’s less horrific. This most recent bout has felt as though this invisible force is holding me captive underneath the covers of my bed, ever so silently whispering to me that there’s no good reason to face the world or that I am not worth showing my face to anywhere beyond the bed where I lie. All of the sudden, it’s like the motivation to continue my regular routine has been vacuumed right out of me in one split second when I wasn’t paying attention; my drive is non-existent, my beacon of determination has been dimmed.
Depression can feel like life is fading from brilliant light to shades of dark grey, slowly or seemingly overnight. In the process, it’s easy to get lost in the darkness or even to feel stuck inside of it.
It’s been a long time since my couch and I have spent this much time together. As someone who hardly watches TV, I’ve surprised myself by watching 4 entire series on Netflix within two weeks. I’ve been spending time in the kitchen, teaching myself how to cook – and while I’ve boasted that it’s because I really want to stop defaulting to cereal as my dinner option on a regular basis, I’ve mostly just really enjoyed the fact that it gives me an opportunity to hide out in my apartment alone. On more occasions than I’d like to admit to, I’ve had my pyjamas on and tucked myself in around 7pm – usually waking up the next morning still feeling like I didn’t sleep long enough. I’ve cancelled plans to stay home and scroll through my phone, to watch movies I could care less about, to cry on my balcony and wonder about life.
It sounds so awful. I hate admitting it.
As I texted to someone not that long ago: “Depression is a bitch, eh?”
Life can be hard at the best of times. Even if you’ve found your perfect match, you’ve secured your dream job, you’ve purchased the home that ticked off all the details on your “must have” list, your social circle is full of people who just ‘get you’ and want to make your heart explode with happiness… life is never perfect. We live in a world full of high demand (from ourselves and society) to live to certain standards; to always treat ourselves while still maintaining good health, to practice as much self care as necessary while not forgetting about what we promised others, to be an active member of society while also getting enough sleep and taking enough time for ourselves. There just aren’t enough hours in the day sometimes or enough coffee to get you through it, y’know?
And then on top of all the day-to-day stuff, the love of our life suddenly breaks things off with us. Or the economy can’t seem to turn around and we eventually lose the job we were so desperately holding onto. Or maybe the most unexpected tragedy manifests – and then we fall apart.
Or, at least I do.
Reminder: It’s absolutely acceptable to feel defeated by life sometimes.
I don’t recommend having a full-on meltdown in a public area — work, the mall, the grocery store, in the middle of spin class. There’s nothing wrong with doing so, but it’s just slightly more embarrassing or uncomfortable than if you just broke down into a fit of tears on your kitchen floor, in the shower, or even in your car. I will tell you that I’ve crumbled to my most vulnerable state in almost all those scenarios though – sometimes it just happens and/or it’s just too much effort to fight against it. So hey – if the final stitch gives out when you’re struggling to find a ripe avocado in the produce section or one more person sends you an unnecessarily feisty email or you’re just worn out and tired and your emotions burst through the seams – you do you, wherever that may be.
As much as I hate to admit that I feel really out of my element right now, I’ve learned (over time, dealing with depression on several occasions) that the importance is in recognizing that this experience is happening to me, and I’ve got to feel it to heal it. Ignoring it will only make it worse.
1000 words talking about it, and it still doesn’t feel good to put that out in public. And maybe it never will. But if nothing else, there’s someone reading this who’s struggling and now they know that they’re not alone. I know how uncomfortable it can be to feel like you’re trapped in the dark on your own – so this is your reminder that there’s at least one other person who is fumbling around in dim lighting with you.
Fact: it’s not just you and me with these feels.
If you’re fighting your way through what seems like a tunnel with no light at the end, know that you’re not going to stay there forever – at least, as long as you don’t want to. And while you’re surrounded by fog, there’s other people (including me) who are doing their best to find their way through the dark clouds at the same time.
I know it isn’t easy – admitting that you’re not okay, that you’re unsure, that you’re struggling. It sucks to feel less than yourself, when all you want is to feel like the best version of who you are.
Nope. Still doesn’t feel good.
If you’re not okay, you’re not okay. The first step is embracing the reality and then deciding how you’re going to bring the light back into your life. (And if you want to talk options or you’re unsure which direction your second step should go towards, shoot me an email.) In the meantime, feel free to catch up on all the never-ending list of quality Netflix series available to watch or take up a new hobby from the comfort of your home. Or even just treat yourself to a few extra bubble baths, a few more hours of sleep, and a new book to read. Right now, I fully encourage you to do whatever it is you need to feel somewhat peaceful in your existence.
Be kind to yourself. You’re a human who’s experiencing a bumpy ride, and that’s totally okay.
We’ve all got struggles, and this one is yours right now. And if nothing else, I hope you find comfort knowing that we’re in this together.
Trust me – that’s exactly what’s getting me through.