I was probably depressed long before I knew what it was and many many years before I was officially diagnosed as having Recurring Depressive Disorder (among other things). I have been wanting to write about my struggle with depression for a while now. I am very good at expressing my feelings and making people feel what I feel. I hope to do the same in writing. That being said, no one really knows when I am depressed. I feel I am like the batman of depression in that sense. Bruce Wayne has a practiced apathy that he puts on to fool the world into thinking he is a spoiled billionaire. But in fact, he carries a huge burden. We know what it is.
What is it to be depressed?
It is different for different people. My description here may not be yours. The purpose of this article is to create empathy in those people who do not understand what or how depression works. And I understand that that is quite natural. We are all mostly apathetic to things that we haven’t experienced. My depression has given me a deep understanding of disabilities and discrimination and what it is to watch everyone you know race past you in life while you find it difficult to just get out of bed.
I never finished college. I wished I did. I regret it deeply and agonized in guilt for many years after my final year because I couldn’t do what others could do so easily. To my family, I was just watching TV and wasting time saying “I can’t do this now. I can re-take it next year.” I thought so too. I joked about it for many years pretending I purposely didn’t write it because I was lazy. But in reality, all those times I was so depressed, I would just spontaneously burst into tears. I would look in the mirror and just start crying without a second’s hesitation and then I would stop just like that and no one would know a thing. I didn’t know depression was a thing until my early years of college. I was happy to self diagnose myself as depressed. At least now I know the reason. Or maybe I just felt special. Ordinary, good for nothing, a failure who couldn’t pass a simple exam now has an excuse. But I never really used it as an excuse until recently. It’s not an excuse anymore, it’s a reason. I never finished college because I was depressed throughout my college years and I kept writing these exams again and again hoping to pass and failed so many times that now I have a crippling fear of exams, even to this day. I feel hopeless thinking about exams because that’s how I felt back then. I would pray for there to be a god so that he/she could help me with it. I am an atheist, I have been one for a very long time. Even when I pray I am. I pray so that I survive. Hope gives me optimism.
I was officially diagnosed with RDD (Recurring Depressive Disorder). I was prescribed strong antidepressants and antipsychotics to help me sleep and stay happy. It worked for a couple of months. Then I ended my toxic relationship with my partner and ran away and that was that. I had no one in my corner because I didn’t know how to ask for help for a problem that seems to not exist. This is the case with most depressed people. To other people, they seem perfectly fine. The sickness is inside, hidden, like a cancer of the mind. To this day, when people find out I am depressed, they are surprised. So getting help was out of the question because making yourself do something is the most effortful thing during those times that I am depressed. I think about taking my life on a daily basis. Sometimes interactions with loved ones would throw me off the edge and I would attempt something. Apart from depression, I am also hypersensitive. This means that I am hurt by anything as small as a hurtful look. More so when I am depressed. But when I feel better occasionally logic takes over and I am able to overcome it or suffer it in silence by hitting my head or punching a wall. At those times, when you feel so much emotional pain, the physical pain relieves it. So much so that many times I was quite surprised that I hit myself in front of people. It was like it was involuntary. In the last 10 years, I have been depressed for longer than I have been normal.
The funny thing about depression is, I can easily tell when I’m happy. But I can’t tell why or when I’m sad or even angry. An emotion I rarely feel or try not to until two or three times a year I explode in a fit of rage causing physical damage to myself and scaring someone else. I can tell easily when someone is sad or angry. Years of physical abuse will do that to you. The fact is though, I can’t tell my sadness apart. Am I sad because I’m depressed or because of something that happened in my recent past?
There is perpetual guilt associated with depression. I feel sad all the time. I used to think of it as a superpower. I feel nothing. I accepted my fate. This is how it’s going to be. Now I do not think it is a power of any kind, although I do accept that this is something I will have to live with for the rest of my life.
I take 100 mg of mood stabilizer and 150 mg of bupropion every day. This means even if miss a single day, I feel the effects of it almost immediately. And that scares me every day. My biggest fear and cause of anxiety is that someday I will forget to get more meds. My life, my job, depends on those meds.
For many years now I always thought and accepted that I would eventually kill myself. Every time I hear someone has taken their life, the suicidal fantasy becomes more of a reality. Robin Williams, a couple of my family members, talking kitty cat (Steve Cash), Sushant Singh Rajput. Every story scares me. Because if they can, maybe I can too. I survive this because, despite everything, I see the beauty of the world. I have an incredible amount of hope that tears my heart but also sustains me. I want to experience everything this world has to offer me and hopefully, I will.
Keep hoping. Reach out to me if you feel it’s too hard. We’ll talk.