I’ve heard so many people tell those who suffer depression to just ‘cheer up.’ I wonder if they can really believe that it’s that simple.
Depression isn’t just sadness. It is emptiness, it is misery. It is pain and nothingness at once. When you are truly depressed you lack the ability or will to cheer yourself up. No one just ‘has depression.’ You suffer from it. This is depression:
You will wake at 5, 6, maybe 7am, feeling as though you had only just fallen asleep. It’s likely you did. If you don’t have to be somewhere, you could lie in bed for another 3 hours…too tired, too miserable and pathetic to crawl out of you bed. Or maybe you will sleep until 1pm, because it’s so much easier to sleep through most of the day than actually live it, and you’re so unbelievably tired anyway. You will push through the day, knowing that every hour will be a struggle and not knowing how you will feel tomorrow. People will ask what is wrong, and you will simply smile and say ‘nothing, I’m just tired.’ Yes you are tired. You are so tired of drifting through every day, with no will to actually live. But you simply smile, and they’ll believe you. It’s so much easier to lie anyway, and most of the time you can push away the guilt. Sometimes you might find a way out, temporary as it may be. You might write or draw or sing. Or you might cut, burn, binge, purge, drink, starve, scratch, pull, overdose…anything to take your mind away from the utter misery it seems to be so obsessed with. What you don’t know is that soon these acts will take over your thoughts. You will spend your days not only lost in the haze of depression, but your mind will be so consumed with these thoughts of escaping and self destruction that you think you could explode. You will see a series of lines, and think of the lovely scars you could make, where you will make them. Your mind will be permanently spinning with thoughts of this pain, and different ways you might destroy yourself or, more precisely, this monster inside you. But of course none of this will work. You will still spend your night alone, sitting and staring at nothing, completing mindless tasks as if they have some importance, as if you are really there. Be careful where you let your mind wander. Night time is the darkest time in depression. That’s when all the demons come out, when you become weaker. It is when you will hurt yourself simply to make the urges stop for 5 minutes. It is when you will spend hours crying or screaming for no reason other than the agony inside. You will shake and feel as though your whole body will cave in or explode. No one will understand. You do not have hospital beds, drips, bandages or needles to make people worry. To make them realize that this sad little girl is actually sick and needs help. Of course the depression will have destroyed any self esteem you might have had, so you’ll be too scared to ask for the help you need. You just go on, hoping someone will notice your slow, meticulous self-destruction. Don’t worry, it won’t always be so bad. Some days you might even feel stable. You might walk tall for one day, feeling a glint of hope that maybe one day things will get better, that things are getting better and you have the strength to fight. Then one small thing will go wrong, and you’ll fall apart all over again. You feel stupid for even considering that things could get better.
Have you ever felt as though your whole body could just crumble any minute? Just crumble and fall apart, like it’s lost anything it had holding it together. That’s what it feel like all the time to be depressed. That raw fragility. It feels as though the smallest disruption in our life, or in your head, or in the world, could send everything spiraling downwards. And it can. The tiniest mistake can cause you to hate yourself more than you could possibly imagine. The smallest crack in your world can make it all seem pointless.
Depression destroys any resources you have. Any strength or courage you kept stored away for emergencies. So if the tiniest little storm hits, you are left to trying to survive the ravages of a cyclone without a life boat. It wears you down and even the smallest crack can seem like an earthquake and every minute is spent waiting for the next shake. And then one day, you will find yourself curled up on your bedroom floor, sobbing, because you can’t find anything to wear. Every little thing is just more proof of how worthless you are.
Eventually, you begin to expect it. You anticipate the bad times, because you know the good times are just fooling you. And they are filled with fear and anxiety over when everything will come crashing down again. You are always waiting for the next breakdown. You’ve become so accustomed to feeling miserable, that happiness is a foreign feeling that you won’t even let yourself experience. You don’t deserve it. So you become numb, which at times, is worse than the full-blown screaming and crying depressive ‘episodes.’ You find yourself begging to hurt again, or in my case begging to be used because any feeling is better than feeling nothing at all.
Depression is one of the cruelest of all illnesses. You see, it’s much easier to fight when you can see an end to it all. When you know that in the end you will either win or lose. But whatever the outcome, the war will be over. The thing about depression is it blurs your perception of the future and makes it near impossible to see that end. You start to think that there’s no such thing as ‘winning’ and why bother fighting if you already know the outcome. It gradually strips you of any hope you previously had. And without hope, it’s difficult to see a future or a reason to fight.