My Depression

I have depression. That’s right. Me. Depression. I am a sufferer, a barer, a depressed person. This is my life, and this is who I am.

If you peer at me on the surface you would never guess what is hidden beneath. Never dream that there is some hidden inner torment going on inside my soul. I am the girl that smiles at the elderly as I walk past them on the street. I am the person that holds the door open for the young mothers, struggling with a baby in a pram and her arms full of shopping. I am the one who smiles at the bank teller. The one who says good morning to the young man behind the cash register. The one who is always laughing, always with a joke to tell. But if you scratch the surface and gaze deeper inside of me, inside of my mind and my heart and my being, you will see that I am fantastic at wearing a mask. At covering the truth and showing only what I know you want to see. Making it easier for you, so you don’t have to deal with something as big as this. Making it easier for me, so that I don’t have to deal with your pity and concern. Your sympathy and fake understanding.

My Depression

I keep my true self hidden away. Only the very special people in my life get a chance to see who I actually am. Only the very special people in my life get a chance to glimpse inside my real world, my head. And even then they only know the half of my day to day battles. Because even though I let them inside, there is always one door that stays shut. One door that is locked. One door without a key or a way inside. This is the door to my inner depth. My pool of misery, despair and self loathing. This is the truth of my illness, and this is the part of me that I can never share.

Why does the depressed person keep themselves so guarded? So hidden from the world and those that love them? Why do we put up walls and try to keep out everyone that means something to us, yet keep inside everything that hurts us so much? Why do we push away the people that we love so much, eventually making them hurt, making them hate us? Are we sadists? Do we like the pain? Is this how we get our sick little kicks? Why is it so hard to let someone in? To ask for help and to let people help us?

For me, my depression has a name; Dysthymia. It means I have always been this way and that I may always be this way. That I have a ‘sad’ personality and that it is just the way I happen to be. I try to control my dysthymia, my depression, my black dog. I take medication to sedate it and to calm it. But it never stays quite for long. Eventually it will rear its ugly head, and the cycle will start up again. And again. And again. I am on a continuous rollercoaster of my emotions. Eventually the ride will stop, but then I just go wait in line again. Wait for it to pull up to the platform so that I can get on once more. To start it again, and to take me on a journey through my own personal hell. One that I have traveled every day for 21 years. If this is me on the medication, then not even I want to know what it would be like if I ever stopped.

For me, almost every day is a struggle, from when I get out of bed in the morning, to when I fall asleep at night. I wake up each day and automatically go over in my head what I have to do, who I have to see. Then I spend time trying to make up excuses as to why it’s a bad idea to leave the house. Why I shouldn’t go see my friends. Why I should call in sick for work, or play hookie from school. Then I get up and make my way to the couch, where I will spend most of my day. I do not think about getting out and interacting with people, because to me that is the scariest and most draining thing that I have to do. It is not easy wearing my mask. Trying to keep everything inside. But it is even harder to let people in. When I shower for the day and get dressed, it is a struggle to look at myself in the mirror without feeling pure disgust. To find something to wear that doesn’t make me look fat and horrible. To fix my hair a certain way and put my makeup on so that I am not the most hideous beast that the world has ever seen. But still this is how I feel. This is what I see. I try to alter my views, to help my self-esteem, but there is never anything I can do. So then I try to get other people to tell me what I cannot tell myself. That I am beautiful, inside and out. That I am a kind and caring person, someone that they treasure in their lives. The ones that go through the same battles as me every day, they know the right things to say to make me feel happy about myself, even if it’s just for a fleeting moment. But the ones who have never walked down my road, never stood in my shoes and felt the things that I feel, do not understand my desperate need for approval and praise.

The only thing worse than not having anything nice to say about myself, is when someone else doesn’t have anything nice to say about me either. It cuts me right to my core. Am I that horrible that they can’t even say something small, like ‘you’re funny’, ‘you’re smart’, or ‘you’re a good friend’? Is the stuff that I think about myself really true? That it’s not just in my head and that othr people see it too? That I am truly worthless, unlovable and a waste of space? And the worst offender of this is the person that I need the most in my life. The person that I love the most, and probably the person that I shut out the most. Once upon a time the compliments used to fly thick and plentiful, but over time, over the years that have gone by, the source has dried up. Is it that he doesn’t think I need to hear it anymore? Or is it that he no longer feels that it’s true?

I don’t know why I push people out of my life. I don’t know why I build up the walls, higher and higher, to stop the people that love me and whom I love climbing in. I can see myself doing it, yet I can’t make myself stop. And the worst thing about it is that every time something else happens, every new incident that takes place, it just brings me down lower and lower. If I was digging myself a hole in the earth, I would have surely come out the other side by now, then turned around and started again in the other direction, several times over. It is a very lonely world for someone with depression. It is so hard to keep up relationships and friendships when you don’t have the emotional energy to hide the way you feel. Show your true self too soon and you scare the person off. Hide it from them for too long and they feel deceived because you have kept it a secret. There is no happy medium. The easiest way to have a social life when you have depression is to make friends with those who are also depressed. Misery loves company, and it is often only the people that can empathize that you feel you can let inside. And hey, when all your friends are feeling the same way, no one complains when you have to cancel on them. When you are just feeling so shit about yourself that you cannot bare to be around anyone else. They don’t feel like you are abandoning them, because most of the time they will be feeling the same way.

Even writing these words is very hard for me. It’s hard to get what I want to say out there, and I am scared that someone will read this and it will alter their views about me. I am so scared to let other people inside, so scared that I will frighten them away, or hurt them even more than I have. For those that I do hurt, for those that I have hurt and for those that I will hurt, I am truly sorry. Please understand that it is not me, not my true self that pushes you away and shuts the door. It is not how I want things to happen. Not how I want my life or my world to be. Sometimes when I just feel so down and so sad in myself, I unintentionally take it out on others, usually whoever is closest to me at the time. I don’t fully understand why I do this, but I know that in a small way it makes me feel better to know that someone else is hurting too. That I am not alone, and it doesn’t really matter that I am the cause of this hurt. But then on a much greater level I can see that I am making someone else feel the pain that I don’t want to feel, and then I loathe myself even more for hurting someone I love.

So please, if you are reading this and you feel the same way as me, know that you are not alone. But if you are reading this and have never been down the same path, know that the things I do are not intentional. That the things other people that you know who have depression are not intentional. Be understanding, and show them that you love them. Sometimes all we need is a hug…..

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