For the longest time, I liked to think myself as an advocate against the stigma around depression. Second person narratives, mini rants on social media, heroic acts of retweeting and re-blogging and a healthy side of being that 3.00am call to a few made me assume I was actually dong something about ‘depression and anxiety’.
I took refuge in the notion that encouraging other to speak on depression and get the help they need, reassuring that their depression is not who they are, would somehow help me come to terms with my own. I’ve realised that by doing so, I’ve been trying to cheat my way out of depression.
Truth is, every now and then, I entertain depression and anxiety (take note). Typing that sentence has been one of the hardest things I have done in the entirety of my existence. Definitely, among the top five hardest things. Acknowledging that you have depression is a form of social suicide. Or that is how it is dictated by the high priests that concoct social dogmas. But here I am, having an honest conversation with myself about depression because that is the only way I can tell you, that you’re not alone, we are all a little lost some times.
Depression and anxiety are dichotomies. These two are also complementary, at least in my experience it has been. Anxiety is feeling emotions intensity, and depression is the apathetic numbness that engulfs you. See, for me it has always been a wave of overwhelming emotion triggered by some event followed by the my mind putting up defences to feel nothing at all; anxiety – depression.
It was not always like this, but that’s a whole other conversation. What makes depression and anxiety different from any other illness is that your symptoms are not too obvious, and therefore easily dismissed. To add to that, we live in age where everything is publicly shared, but nothing really is. So its hard for us to muse up the courage to actually type out an honest tweet or Facebook status about what we feel. For me, depression manifested in many ways. The more obvious markers of depression were the slits on wrists, drinks at noon, withdrawing from social interaction etc. Later on, depression was the voice inside my head that kept telling me to give up, that refused to let me get out of bed and face the day, that neglected everyone I loved – including myself, and took comfort in substance abuse (being overly attached to coffee, cigarettes is substance abuse and I’m not going to sugar-coat that). Depression has the ability to mute the voices of your loved ones. It lies to you and tells you that there is no other option. It numbs you to the point where you want to feel something, anything. Some days a bottle of alcohol does the honours and on others, it’s a blade. Depression also tells you that you’re a burden, no one really has the luxury of time to deal with your trivial concerns, you’re alone in this. And anxiety capitalises on this feeling and drives you to the point of malfunctioning with these conflicting feelings throwing a rave inside your head. Through all this, you’ve convinced yourself that you don’t need help, you’re beyond help and no one wants to help you anyway. At least, for me that is what it was.
I’m not writing this with a hope of saying something so profound that would cure you or fix me. This is me coming to terms with the fact that, even though I’m getting better, I continue to be a victim of my own mind some days. This is me coming to terms with the fact that, a recovery is not essentially a linear process. Most impotantly, this is me coming to terms with the fact that society needs to have an honest dialogue about depression. Society should revamp to the point where, “I’m not happy with myself, I need help” is a conversation one should be comfortable having. Society should evolve to a point where that kind of honesty is permitted, if not valued. This is me stepping out and having an honest conversation with depression and anxiety to tell you its okay, you’re not alone.
You are allowed to hurt, you’re allowed to heal at your own pace and you deserve help through all of that. Help is the song you heard, a friend you reconnected with, a brother, a sister, a hug, a road-trip, a slice of cake; help is letting the one true medicine of love in. And it doesn’t matter if what bothers you is a repercussions of a trauma you faced, quarter life crisis induced by the economy, or a heartbreak – you are allowed to hurt, you’re allowed to feel. So give yourself permission to feel, and know that, ‘if you feel too much, there is still a place for you here.‘
This post might be something I laugh at in retrospect. This post might be something you laugh at while reading. You may disagree, you may agree. To be honest, I think I’ve been battling with these two for long enough to have earned the right to do a first person narrative. I’m writing this for you, the one who read this till the end and found this relatable. YOU need to know that you’re not alone, you’re allowed to feel, and if you give yourself permission to be loved, you will find your way out of this.
All my love,