You wake up one morning, and everything is exactly as it should be. Nothing seems out of order. No one is sick or dying. The world is turning just as it always has, and life is moving along. You should be happy, comfortable, ready to greet the day with your sense of contentment, but for reasons you don’t know, you can’t. Instead, you stare at the ceiling while you try your best not to cry. You look in the mirror and the reflection is some cracked, peeling, worthless beast staring back.
The worst part about it is no matter how much you try to explain they way you feel, you can’t. Sure, maybe someone insulted you, or your car wouldn’t start the morning before. Maybe your favorite show was cancelled, or maybe your mother pointed out that she still doesn’t have any grandchildren. Yet none of those things should cause you so much pain. It’s debilitating, frustrating, a struggle for clarity that seems an unwinnable battle.
That cracked, peeling, worthless beast has a name. Depression.
I’m not just talking about a rough patch that leads to depression, though that’s truly horrible as well. I’m talking about chronic depression. Every now and then my brain decides to send false signals to say that I’m sad…and not just regular sad. This kind of sadness is life-halting, stopping you from even enjoying a healthy joke, preventing you from getting out of bed and going about your daily life, causing headaches, stomach aches, nausea, chest pain. It cuts deep as though it were a physical ailment.
I find myself irritated with television commercials selling anti-depressant medication. (I don’t like anti-depressants, but I’ll get to that.) The problem I have with the commercials is how they seem to trivialize it. A woman walks around with this cute little monster who won’t leave her alone, or a man can’t go anywhere without a cute, sad cloud hanging over his head. I mean really? There is nothing cute about depression. It’s not adorable, it doesn’t hold your hand, it doesn’t frown, and it doesn’t keep you company.
Depression is ugly.
Instead of a cloud, it’s every natural disaster in the history of mankind hanging over your head. Instead of a cute, fuzzy monster, it’s scribbled angry words with razor sharp claws. Instead of holding your hand, it eats you, devours you. It swallows you whole, and escape is not as simple as a cute little pill. And then I have to scoff at the side-effects. Not only will it possibly cause you to feel suicidal, but there’s this whole other batch of horrid symptoms.
Why don’t I take the medication or even like the idea of it?
Well, besides the above listed reason, there’s the fact that it doesn’t really solve anything. It’s a cover up. A false sense of security, even more useless than a child’s blankie. For me, personally, it makes me feel numb. I’m out of touch with any emotions I’ve ever felt, both good and bad. I can’t connect with my inner turmoil which, yes…I love my stormy center. It’s who I am. I’m emotional, erratic, impatient, a little temperamental, and sometimes kind of a bitch. But I’m also kind, loving, caring, sympathetic, empathetic, and deeply affected by the world around me. I feel everything with such profound intensity that it moves me and builds the worlds in my head. The stories I write would never have existed if I were to lose that. Colors would lose meaning, characters would lose voice, and I would lose something I consider to be the biggest part of me.
In the end, I’ve found that biting down and crying it out is my best bet to get through it. I also have a few select friends that know how to handle my blubbering. They talk me through it like champions. And I am so very grateful for their presence in my life.
If you’re one of those out there like me, you know what I’m talking about and how hard it can be to have no real reason for tears, yet you cry them all the same. Maybe you have also done that thing where you attach those emotions to something in particular, like something your spouse said which normally wouldn’t have bothered you so much. In truth, that has nothing to do with why you are depressed. You just need something or someone to blame. I’ve stopped doing that, thankfully. I’ve learned to recognize the pattern, though each time is the same struggle.
Someone you know might even live with chronic depression and not realize it. Or maybe you do. It’s hard to see sometimes. You might think it’s just life giving you a bunch of rotten fruit, when in fact it’s your brain. I always suggest talking to someone professional before jumping to any conclusions. There are people out there whose job it is to help people like us. Don’t shy away from them simply for their title. I know how easy it is to become disillusioned with the medical world, to believe that they really aren’t in it for you. That may be the case for a few of them out there. You can’t be sure unless you try. And trying is the first step.
So if you ever see that cracked, peeling, worthless beast, tell him this, “I have survived you time and again, and I won’t let you take me down now. I’m going to get through this, and you are going to fail this time and every time after.”