Back where I grew up, being depressed is considered the same as being sad, only the expression is so overused that you would never be taken seriously. Even my parents told me to simply think positive and start jogging because depression is a made-up modern concept by lazy people or attention-seekers. I was all of that apparently, even for them. I wasn’t the best daughter growing up, but I was still the best in class, the loudest, funniest, and somewhat of an It girl. Elementary school was all about me and my accomplishments. But then, at the age of 16, everything changed.
There were periods when I resented going home from school, I felt that something is not right there. Energy is low, the atmosphere is gloomy like we have always had family issues that we didn’t resolve on time, and now I can smell them rotting from kilometers away. Sometimes, my emotions were disturbing. There were signs of my illness, it seems since forever. I would write sad lyrics, almost suicidal lyrics on the back of posters and keep them under my bed. Mother was never happy about them, she thought I was punishing her for something.
I cried a lot, felt abandoned and not loved at times, the cries for help were everywhere, I just didn’t know how to recognize them. Same goes for my parents. They made it even worse. I was grounded for months, misunderstood when I had panic attacks or breakdowns when I would cry for days. Cry myself to sleep, wake up and start crying. Yet somehow, without any knowledge and support, it was a struggle, but I was living my life in my teenage days completely unhappy, problematic, and stubborn. Heavy alcohol and drug abuse didn’t help, but I didn’t know what I was doing.
Then I fell in love. That helped for a while. Five years later, we moved in together, and then I realized – I really need help. I cried for days, couldn’t answer the phone, and had no idea what was going on. We thought the separation from home for the first time could be the issue and we thought it was a healthy reaction to stepping into the adult word. Not with me. I wasn’t happy at my parents’ home, so I left. It could only get better. But it wasn’t. Tried therapy, the doctor told me I am most likely only looking for attention, and I am making a huge deal out of normal, everyday issues. Basically, she called me a drama queen. That didn’t go well…
I thought it was me. I made peace with the fact that I am not the most positive person in the world. But it became obvious that I am not ‘balanced’. It was on another level, it was not sadness. Years later, I don’t feel well again, but this time for reasons – my relationship is going downhill, and my partner had no idea how to help. It ruined his confidence as he considered himself incapable of making me happy. It was a tough period for love, communication, trust, and our 7-year relationship. We were both unhappy. I saw that he was trying at first, but we both didn’t know how to fight it, so he just gave up. It was devastating for me to see him powerless in front of my pain, and then he just gave up.
Soon after I found out – I am deeply depressed, and I have been for a long time. I am 27 at the time. It was undiagnosed, lurking, growing, and became a monster. Sometimes, the emotional pain would become a physical pain, and those nights would look like the last nights in my life. When I was prescribed a medication for anxiety and depression, I was happy that there is a chance to feel better soon, no matter what, but I had no support whatsoever. My parents were ashamed that I am having mental issues, my partner often used it as an argument against me. It was getting worse again. Parents were stressing out because they know they are being talked about and analyzed in the most uncomfortable way for them possible. And everybody tried to make me realize how hard it is for them to see me struggle and go through ‘all that’.
But there was no support. And that is all I needed. Then I decided to leave for a couple of months. I needed the beach, the sun, and my job is online so I could do whatever I wanted. I lived on the beach, I enjoyed every single moment of it. Never wore shoes for three months, and have a nice collection of bikinis. One would think I have it all. I was taking my meds regularly, but after two years of being ‘high’ all the time, I felt completely lost. I just broke in front of my friend and cried for days. I didn’t have any idea why, what was hurting me so much if anything, and finally when it is going to stop.
My roommate approached with a cold soda and said, “You know you are like that because your hormones are not in balance? Do you even know why you are taking your meds?” And it hit me, I was looking for a reason, something in my life to let it make me unhappy and I didn’t have any reasons. I was blaming myself for feeling helpless, but it was just chemistry? And after having heard that dozens of times at therapy, from friends and read in media, I’ve never understood it until he almost verbally attacked me after seeing days of my misery. I stopped crying, wiped my face off with a sleeve, and had the whole soda.
I finally realized, parts of my life that I was constantly blaming for not feeling easy like Sunday morning every single day are perfectly fine. I’ve created this dark blue picture of my life in my head, and it just evoked more pain. It was not the case. I was digging so deep in order to find the epicenter of the problems – it is only natural to find something. Where have I ever seen perfection? Nature is merciless, beauty is relative, and I don’t believe in diamonds, there is nothing perfect out there. Why was I trying to make my life better, I don’t know, it already was what I wanted, but I couldn’t feel that.
From that point, I would lie if I said nothing has changed for the better. Only better understanding of the real problem helped heaps. I am still taking my medication, it has been three years now, and my mood is not constant, but I know how to get away with it with the least amount of disturbance. When I feel a bad phase is coming, I talk it out. I talk for hours. Support in difficult times like these is crucial to your recovery. If there is no one to say it is all going to be OK, I don’t know if it actually could. Depression is a mean condition, it affects everyone around you. You are not aware of times that your pain is hurting others, including parents, partner, work… My experience is a sad one. My decade-long depression ruined my nine-year relationship and damaged both of us, little by little. It hurt my parents, my sister, and it is interfering with my work.
If my friend didn’t point out my issue in a way comprehensive to my drained soul on the balcony that day, I don’t even want to think what would have happened. I got tired of crying. I am exhausted of overthinking and creating negative scenarios about everything. But I am proud and happy to say that I made progress. I am not putting a scarlet letter on my life and blaming myself for wars and hunger.
I am putting on mascara, taking regular showers, watching less series, and I am answering my phone. I learned how to say ‘no,’ and I learned that it is all chemistry. If it wasn’t, it would be sadness, melancholy. For that, you need a reason. And I am not sad. My life is good.