A piece I wrote about depression, explaining it to what I currently understand about the illness in detail. Most people do not understand what it is like untill they have been through it themselves, so i believed it was time to give those suffering through it a voice, a way to explain it.
Nowadays people idolise mental illness – even glorify it. But mental illness isn’t a heroic battle at all. It’s not a battle for the greater good of thousands of people, it’s not a battle you chose because you want to sacrifice your freedom for that of others. It’s a destructive battle within yourself, your subconscious declaring war with your conscious. The battle may not be as bloody or loud as those of the soldiers marching on Normandy in 1944 on D-day, or as physically visible as the prisoners in Auschwitz; but it is just as destructive and just as real.
Depression is not a trend, it’s a disease of the mind. It is common knowledge that the mind is a powerful thing that it can change you physically to; phantom pregnancies, pseudo effect testing in medicine and the saying “mind over matter” are all examples of this. Merely by using hypnosis, the manipulation of the mind, you can overcome a lifetime of addictions or traumatic events with the click of your fingers, sometimes even get rid of physical pain to. Your brain controls every single function in your body, every thought and feeling that crosses your mind; so just imagine what your brain could do to you if it turned against you, because that is what depression is. Depression isn’t a sudden mood swing, it is a constant fight with you mind. Having one breakdown or the odd sad thought isn’t depression, depression is a constant thing. Make no mistake, you do have some good days when you manage to distract yourself, but as soon as you close the door and are in a room alone it comes back twice as hard.
Every single task seems impossible, unable to sleep, you feel constantly drained. You struggle to get yourself out of bed, the idea of leaving your room or your house is almost impossible. You can feel this impending doom hanging over you wherever you go, but more so when you’re away from the comfort of your own space. Any little task seems like a massive quest that isn’t achievable, even things so much as making a brew or writing a few paragraphs. You end up over-eating or under-eating because of too little or too much of an appetite. You try to fight these unhealthy eating patterns but no matter how hard you try you fall ten steps backwards and none forwards. You feel like you have no one by your side, like you truly are alone. No matter how many people you surround yourself with, the feeling wouldn’t budge. Even with constant reassurance you still can’t erase the thought that everyone will leave you, out of your mind.
You try to motivate yourself, tell yourself you can do it, that it’s all in your head and you can snap out of it. Sometimes you manage to fool yourself for a brief moment and muster the courage to accept the new-found motivation, only to have it swept away. You find yourself breaking down into tears, feeling as if you’re grieving who you once was. You feel as if your heart is being ripped out all over again, the noises you can hear yourself making when the tears flood uncontrollably from what you presume are your eyes, only make you feel worse. You don’t know who you are anymore, you feel as if you’re no longer living – just existing. You can’t help but yearn for the loving comfort of someone’s arms, but you don’t want anyone to see you in such a state. You don’t want people to see you at your most vulnerable, with the battle finally showing on the outside. But when someone does, and they hold you in their arms, you find yourself clinging onto them tightly – afraid they will disappear or leave. Because in the end, everyone leaves or gives up on you, or they ignore what you’re going through and pretend it doesn’t exist. It’s easier for them to pretend it isn’t there, that it isn’t real… they don’t have to live with the fear and the self-hate and the loneliness, but you do.
You feel like you’re in a constant limbo, unable to keep your feet on the ground. Floating between on world and the next. You go through the day, you see yourself typing or writing, but it feels like you’re far away from what you see. Your mind is elsewhere, fighting your brain. The body you see looks foreign, the arms you’re using to perform tasks are no longer yours. You try to focus, to snap back into the world you see around you, but no matter how hard you try it seems like its a million miles away – out of reach. Sometimes you welcome physical pain, it’s less painful that what goes on in your head and its and easy distraction. Sometimes when the depression gets bad, during breakdowns you have no control and can’t even remember what happened during it or what’s been said/thought. Sometimes when this happens, you come back to your senses when it’s all over with marks and wounds that you’ve’ self-inflicted’. Only, you haven’t ‘self-inflicted’ them, because it wasn’t you, it was the illness taking over. But no one understands that, they think you can stop it or it’s for attention. But it’s not, you’re ashamed at yourself and mad at yourself, you hate yourself more for it. You keep fighting it and manage to go a while without falling back to the lowest point again, sometimes you remember feeling of needing to do it again or wanting to from when you break down. But you manage to ignore them and stop it from falling so low by distracting yourself. But then, when you feel that alone and that defeated, and the break downs become more common and frequent, and the feeling of loneliness gets worse, you have the worst kind of breakdowns again, and sometimes you relapse. When you’ve relapsed it sends you spiralling lower than you thought could ever be possible. People around you can pretend you never harmed, those few who found out, but you can always see the shameful scars even when they’ve disappeared over time.
You try to explain to people how hard it is, how hard you’re trying, but no one understands. You can’t put down in words how you feel, the physical side effects and the thoughts are easy to explain. But the feeling, the pure emotion that is constantly there, clinging onto you like a cancerous tumour is indescribable. You need people to understand, or at least accept you’re not coping and that what you feel is very real to you. That it is worse than any physical pain you’ve experienced before, but few people can. No one knows how to help it, there is no magic wand to make it all go away, no quick-fix solution, but it’s a battle that can’t be fought alone. Even if people can’t understand what you feel, what you think, what is going on; just them accepting it for what it is and not making it out to be any less than it is and supporting you can work wonders. Because when people accept that you can’t switch it off and that it is very real, you feel less alone. You can spend years pretending to be okay, pretending that you can switch it off to make others happy, but in reality you just make it worse, because you’re smiling on the outside whilst more cracks appear on the inside.