We aren’t all predictable. We are all human.
“Pull it together”
“Sort yourself out”
“What’s the matter with you?”
These are the things that I have been told time and time again when I’m not being the confident and social individual that perhaps people are used to. When you are known to act and behave in a certain way, a sudden switch to being enigmatic is rather evident whether you are with one person or a room-full. Now, I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with people saying these things, not in any way whatsoever. One thing I have learned is that friends, family, colleagues and even strangers want to help. There isn’t a guidebook of how to be around someone like this, which is why it’s incredibly difficult for everyone involved.
I have been noticeably depressed for two years. The reasons behind this, I do not need to share. In the interest of context and background, I can say that a series of events that resulted in an incredible life change lead me to that point. For the majority of that time, I had no idea what was wrong with me. To the outsider, it seems a touch more obvious; arching my back as I sit down, unwillingness to make eye contact, silent during conversations that I would usually be a part of. I wanted to share something with whoever was interested in reading because it has been, in a way, relieving to share with people exactly how I thought and exactly how I feel when this illness surrounds me.
First, it’s the anxiety. Without warning. I could be sitting on the train, or sitting at my desk when suddenly it feels as though my chest is being pushed down by an incredible weight — this passes after a while. This feeling increases day after day and if you work in a stressful environment as I do, it’s very difficult to find the time to pull someone aside and let them know what you are going through. This feeling grows and continues to absorb my being until one day, you wake up and it’s there. It hasn’t left from the night before and it feels as though it is never going anywhere. From there, it is a downward slope. One that stops me feeling anything. That summer breeze for example that has blown through the country recently, I can’t even feel on my face or in my hair. You know it’s there, you can see my hair moving but for me there is nothing. The laughing stops, the smiling stops, the jokes stop. Everything gradually drifts away as if it someone is disconnecting wires from inside you. As if someone is draining out the chemistry and make up that make me who I am and makes me the person that everyone knows and can put a name to.
Imagine a busy street in Central London. Imagine the noise of the cars, the buses, the horns, the people, the voices, the bars, the shouting. Imagine this scene and as if someone clicks their fingers, the noise is gone. The scene remains exactly the same but there is nothing. It’s not a case of just pressing the mute button because these things are real. Your brain knows exactly what sounds these things make, what you would expect to hear in that environment but at this moment in time, everything is numb. A car is a car. I know that. But that’s it. Everything just has a name; nothing has any vibrancy, any soul or character. The picture gradually fades away so that in my mind, there is not a street, there are no people, there are not buses, and there are no horns. It’s blank. Numb. Meaningless. People would talk to me and I would just look expressionless. I don’t feel anything when I’m like this. A void completely surrounds me and my concentration vanishes, my ability to function simply disintegrates and in all honesty, I am embarrassed by this. I hate it. I hate myself. I hate everything about me that has driven me to this position. I have rather a short fuse at the best of times but at this moment, my heart races at the hatred that I have for myself and for all the pain that I have caused other. This is non-stop, swirling round and around whilst, as I mentioned previously, the environment I am in means nothing. I start to focus on the “bad “that I have done (I put this in inverted commas because actions are a matter of opinion but I won’t get into that here) and I become saturated in guilt, fear and hate. I don’t want to be around anyone, I don’t want to do anything. If I could turn the clock back, I just should have stayed in bed, on my own and gone through all these feelings alone. Which is how I believe I should be at these points. Alone. Nobody around me, even if they say they care. I don’t care. Leave me alone.
When I used to hear about people going through depression, the thought of abruptly ending your life seemed like something I would never consider. I can’t even tell you how many times I have thought this. The “what ifs” and the “who cares” moments. The truth is, everyone cares. All of those people that you have spoken to in your life, all those family members, all those people you see day in and day out, whether you are able to interact with them or not, they all care. Every single one of them. People you have never met and won’t until the future, they care about you. I can sit here and say this in retrospect because in some ways, I feel lucky that I can sit here and share this with you today. Perhaps if I had taken the wrong turn at that crossroads, I would not be here. I drift through this period of time just wondering what will happen. I don’t know and I don’t care what happens at this time. It is only for people close to me who talk to me that I realise what I have been like over that period of time. I’m not writing this to give advice by any means, just sharing what my experiences have been so that if anyone is reading this, they know they are not alone. You never are alone in this world; there are always people there for you. Seeking professional help was the best decision I have made in my entire life. Talking to someone impartial who won’t judge you is a release that, quite frankly, we all need from time to time — especially when feeling like this.
Yes I have had thoughts I never thought I would think and I still do. I push people away more than I ever have done in my life. I get angry if someone walks the wrong way on the street, but I’m doing everything I can to get around this. Will this ruin relationships for me in the future? Maybe. But I can’t stop moving forward and dwell on that. The people you have around you now are the people that can help you. I have to remind myself of this among many other things whilst I go through these periods. But they love you and will do anything for you, never ever forget that.
Anyway, I have rambled enough. I just wanted to offer a glimpse into what I have been through as a reminder that it does happen to people. You can’t pick and choose how you develop and how things will affect you. Did I see this coming two years ago? No. Not in the slightest. But I am who I am because of this and it’s made me a stronger person. I still have days where I can’t get out of bed but we are all human. We live in a stressful society where each day is unlike the one before in one way or another. I want to be strong and be the best I can for everyone which, you know what, isn’t always possible. You need to look after yourself. I hate hurting people but I hated who I was becoming even more. I’ll fight this for the rest of my life, but I know people around me are always there for me. As they are for you too. Thank you for reading.