I have, despite my best efforts and many wishes otherwise, a natural predisposition towards depression (with a heavy side of anxiety that is going to take the back seat here). For as long as I can remember, and far before I knew the label for the feeling, I have fought against the heavy, exhausting, debilitating force formally known as depression. I was officially diagnosed as a teenager (along with said anxiety disorder) and began treatment — an effective combination of therapy and medication. It took me years to feel like me again but, slowly, I came back — I emerged from the depression the person I always knew I was but had lost for a few years to the illness.
I wish the story ended there but, alas, as real-life is wont to do — there is no happily ever after where I ride off into the sunset and never have another problem ever again. No, I have had to deal with several resurgences of that depression that almost killed me as a teenager. While I can (very) thankfully say that I am not at risk like I was all those years ago, I can say that the depression itself feels very familiar as it settles in slowly, each time bringing the same roster of symptoms, but I handle it much differently now — self-awareness and a master’s degree in clinical psychology teaches you a few things.
I know now when the triggers hit. I know what to look for — tired, distracted, sleeping too much, eating too much or too little — and I use the heads up to prepare. I start setting goals, planning things to look forward to, and surrounding myself with friends and family. I use my psychological resources as well — therapy and medication (with an excellent psychiatrist). The one part of the depression that always hits me with surprising force is the loneliness.
Every night I settle into bed alone. I turn on Netflix or listen to music, pull out a book, write, or daydream until I feel like I might be able to fall asleep. What I want to do is turn to someone and have a conversation, to talk to someone who completely understands what’s going through my head and can just say, “I know it sucks but…” and then tell me about their own life so that I can get out of my own head and escape the selfishness that depression brings.
I might be asking for too much. Depression is certainly not fun to be around and I worry constantly that it will be a continual roadblock in any relationship I ever hope to have, but, my depression is also different nowadays. It’s open to suggestions, to change, to activating. It leaves me wonderful periods of time where I’m able to enjoy my life without the heavy feeling holding me back. The depression I have these days allows me to have a life as well…and I’m trying to make the most out of it.
I continue to get out of bed in the morning, to make plans with friends and family, to continue on to whatever is next…because even though sitting alone with depression is lonely, it’s also temporary (as I have learned time and time again).
Depression is temporary and so is the present so…I think I’m going to let the latter win this round — I’m too nosy…I need to see what’s next.