Have you ever felt like you were surrounded by darkness? Like you were in a hole, unable to climb out? Have you ever felt like you were not even sure whose life you were living because you felt, deep down, that the things you were saying and the things you were doing were not the speech and actions of the real you? That’s just the tip of the iceberg of what depression really is.
It’s been very hard trying to figure out how to make others understand the pain and frustration I’ve felt. Most people don’t understand that “depression” is NOT an interchangeable word with “sadness”, “loneliness”, or “angry”. They don’t understand because they can’t. They’ve never experienced it for themselves. They can’t understand what it’s like to know that you were born into an amazing family that loves and cares about you; that you’ve done well for yourself and become successful; found an amazing person with whom to spend your life; were blessed to be born into this life with your charisma and ability to make friends…and STILL be depressed and feel like you’re worthless. They don’t see how you can have so much and yet still feel the joy you receive from life, fleeting from your body like birds from a tree just as soon as they’ve landed.
Imagine your energy and life-force being sucked from your body by an dark specter with no face; by he who drops a colorless filter over your eyes so that the world is different shades of grey and black. Imagine KNOWING that this is happening to you; KNOWING that you have become someone that you’re not; and KNOWING that you are intelligent and brave enough to conquer any challenge that is placed before you, yet realizing that you are helpless and trapped in this prison of your own mind. This is what depression is.
I watched in first-person as this man, who looked a lot like me, destroyed my good nature and sense of humor, rattled my relationship with my wife and friends, and made it increasingly harder to concentrate on my job or find any reason to do it, knowing full well that I had bills to pay. Depression is watching this horror movie, set in your life, through an impenetrable pane of glass, without any way to intervene and keep the star of the show from ruining your life.
If you know someone who has “changed”, who seems to be battling demons of their own, or who has been diagnosed with depression, please reach out to them and offer your support. You’d be surprised how much help it is to just know that someone gives a damn. My wife stuck with me through it all and urged me to get help if I felt like something was wrong. So I went to the doctor.
Thankfully, modern medicine has come a long way in being able to diagnose this and treat it. I was diagnosed in late October 2014. My doctor said that all I was missing was suicidal tendencies from the textbook definition of severe depression. Luckily, although I felt worthless and there was no real point to life or living, I didn’t feel like the world would be better off without me. To be honest, I felt completely worthless and if I wasn’t worth anything, why would the world give a shit if I was gone?! I started taking Wellbutrin for my depression and it worked for a while, to an extent. But after about 5 or 6 months, I knew I needed something else. I was switched to Lexapro at the end of 2015 and now, after traveling a long, winding road, I can say now that I can see where the darkness meets the light.
My sense of humor has returned, along with my patience and easy-going, laid-back mentality. Colors are more vivid, I take joy in the little things in life again such as drinking an Irish coffee in the morning from my french press or taking a break from my work to play with my dogs. My wife has never stopped being beautiful, but I can appreciate and revel in her love again. I picked up golf again and just have fun with it instead of letting a bad shot make me so angry I could barely finish the round. I am ME again.
I’ve always believed in staying humble, remembering that we are all human and therefore, are all equal to one another. I’ve always believed that we must always remember how incredibly lucky we are to have been given life and to have been made human (I mean, would you want to be another life form that is currently known to us? We’re the most intelligent life of which we’re aware at this point in our history). We owe it to ourselves as part of the same species to help one another, understand one another, and most of all, LOVE one another.
Now that I’ve beaten the faceless man, I can appreciate these things once again and live my life the way it was meant to be lived…as myself.