We all have secrets. You know the kind of things you don’t want the world to know. The kind of things you do your best to hide from people. We all have secrets and I am no different. My secret is something that only those close to me know about and it is something we rarely talk about. Because if we talk about that thing of which we dare not speak its name, it will awaken and it likes to torture me. That thing is major depression. For the most part of my life I have battled with it. I know most people cannot tell because I use humor to disguise it. And when it’s really bad I withdraw from society and often times also from those closest to me. Even though depression is always lingering in the shadows of my mind there have been four times in my life that I had serious relapses and they were really bad. I decided to share my story with you today in the hope that if there are any of you out there who share my battle, I want you to know that you are not alone. It will get better.
According to the World Health Organization about 121 million people in the world suffers from some form of depression and only 25% of those people have access to effective treatment. This is a scary thought. Depression for me is like a toxic cloud that draws over your life sucking all the joy out of every fiber of your existence. It leaves you immobilized, unmotivated and wilted. You go through your days just going through the motions, much like a robot, and even breathing feels like an effort. You lose perspective on your long term goals and become shortsighted with an inability to feel anything. Some people believe that you can just simply snap out of it, but you can’t. You desperately want to but it is near impossible.
Depression is not just feeling blue and it’s not just feeling sad. When you are depressed you don’t feel and that is the problem. Your emotions become one monotonous string of nothingness. It’s an experience alien to those who have never experienced it before. It’s somewhat similar to having to eat the same bland meal everyday for the rest of your life. It’s difficult to connect with people who have feelings because when you are depressed those people seem strange to you. It’s a bit like watching a movie about your own life without actually participating in it.
Many times you will pretend to have emotions. You will fake a smile, fake a concerned look or fake surprise. Often times when I do this I worry whether I correctly matched the correct facial expression to the correct socially acceptable emotion. Sometimes I don’t because you know with Botox these things can become confusing. When you are depressed you learn a lot about serotonin and dopamine and just recently I had it explained to me again by a doctor like I was a six year old. It’s not like I studied this shit before and know exactly how depression presents in your brain chemicals, but I was depressed and probably behaved like a six year old emotionally disturbed child so the doctor felt the need to refresh my memory.
Depression is also a sneaky fucker. It’s not like you wake up one morning and realize you are depressed. It’s a process that happens unnoticed and it is a gradual downward slide. When you have reached the bottom it is very hard to get out and you are sometimes incapable of reaching out to call for help. In my case I have learned to see the warning signs. These signs are different for different people. In my case I have learned that once I no longer look forward to activities I once enjoyed, when it starts getting physically difficult for me to get out of bed and when I actively start avoiding social contact then I am sliding towards the precipice of depression and it’s best to get help before I fall. This is also when I become less of a diva and more of a muttering hot mess.
Luckily I have a husband that understands and can see the warning signs. Not that I always listen to him because I am a stubborn bitch like that, but he is persistent and can be very convincing in a Tim Gunn kind of way. So when I have slipped into the firm grip of depression I usually see my therapist and start with some meds. We are fortunate to live in a time where great medical advances have been made in treating depression. No longer do you need to have the shit shocked out of your grey matter, now you can just drink a pill. And there are some great antidepressants on the market right now. But unfortunately none of them are a quick fix or overnight cure. They take time to work and most of them have side effects.
Some of my least favorite side effects are headaches, dry mouth, tremors and diarrhea. Fortunately they rarely last longer than a couple of weeks. I remember the other evening when I came home from work waiting for my 6 o’clock headache to take hold. I was sitting on the couch having a pity party of one thinking to myself “For fuck sakes, I am depressed and now I have to deal with fucking migraines to get rid of the fucking depression. Maybe I should just stop taking the pills and see what happens.” I did that once before and it did not end well. But even in my depressed “I feel sorry for myself and the world hates me” state I knew better than to be that stupid. So I drank two headache tablets instead.
Many people become suicidal when they go through a depressive episode. I have been there too. I totally understand how people can get to the point where they think that suicide is the only choice left for them to make. I don’t judge those people. I also stood on that doorstep twice before but I chose to live. I wouldn’t lie and say that I haven’t regretted choosing life because quite frankly the world does suck sometimes, but when my mind goes to those dark places I remind myself that I have a future, I have people that love me and care for me and that it is just the depression talking, it’s not me. Depression fucks with your mind, clouds your thoughts and makes you believe things that simply aren’t true. It is important not to give in to those negative thoughts and to fight even though it is hard as fuck to do so.
There are people who believe that if a person suffers from depression that they are weak and that it is something to be ashamed of. But I am here to tell you that simply isn’t true. Some of the strongest and most creative people I know battle with depression. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. I never before today thought it was important to tell people about my depression because I felt it was a very personal thing. Something I wanted to keep to myself. But then I realized if I could blog about the day I shit myself, why shy away from this. After all depression is a bit like shitting yourself but mentally and it doesn’t require a wardrobe change. So there you have it my dirty little secret is out for the world to read. Hi my name is Pierre and I suffer from Depression. I am having an episode right now.
Till next time.