After Years, I am finally admitting I have Depression.
The most vivid memory I have of the past year is a recent one. It was a night in November — a warm one, surprisingly — and I was sitting on the front porch with my husband. I remember having this feeling of my head becoming clear when I suddenly realized I had no idea what had happened in the past 12 months. It was like all my memories had been stripped from my mind and no matter how hard I thought about it, I just couldn’t remember anything other than laying on the floor of our house.
“How long have I been depressed for?” I was nervous and afraid to look at him.
“About a year, maybe a bit longer… Why?” I could hear the pain in his voice. I felt my heart tighten.
“It’s only felt like a month or two to me…” I was in complete shock, I had no idea it had been that long.
It’s interesting how time just stands still in your life when you slip into depression. How it can slowly reach into your brain and take each one of your memories away. Maybe it’s a blessing though that I don’t remember all of what happened, as it pains me so much to know what I put my loved ones through. I mean, what I do remember about my life hurts enough, because everyday was exactly the same thing.
During the week between 5p.m.-9p.m I would finally have the courage to remove myself from my desk at work to start heading home. I would do my best to make it through my hour commute on public transit without crying. Some days I would win the battle, some days I wouldn’t. Most days completing this task wasn’t a hard thing to do as I was simply a walking zombie on auto pilot trying to make it through the day without anyone noticing anything was wrong.
Once I would arrive home, I would take my shoes off and turn the corner to be greeted by husband. After seeing his face I would walk a few steps into our kitchen and collapse onto the floor. He would try to talk to me, ask me how I was feeling today and what he could do to help. I remember not being able to speak because by this time in the day the monsters in my head were too loud for me to hear anyone in the real world anymore. And even if I did hear what he was saying, they were holding onto my vocal chords so tight that I could never get the words to leave my throat. I would stay like this until it was time to go to sleep.
The weekends were the worst — Friday’s especially. After a week of working more than I should have to hide my pain to those around me, I was unbelievably exhausted. On Friday’s I never made plans, no one was allowed to come over, I made no phone calls, I rarely even turned my computer on because on Friday’s all I could physically do was sleep. I would sleep for an average of 15–16 hours straight. I would be out so cold it was physically hard to wake me from my sleep. Saturday’s were used as a recovery day from my exhaustion and Sunday’s were used to prepare my lies for what I had done that weekend. All of this work was put into my life because my existence was being consumed by my depression. And the only way I knew how to fix it was to make sure no one knew it existed — this way, it wasn’t real.
Do you know how exhausting it is to smile constantly? To laugh at everything someone says? To lie when people ask about your night/weekend? I do.
The biggest problem I had was I never wanted anyone to ever worry about me. In my head everyone had their own issues to deal with, I didn’t want to add anything more onto anyone’s plate. I also feared people not believing me—telling me, “Oh yeah, I was sad once too. You’ll get through it. Just let it go, just smile!”. Those words make me cringe. So in order to never hear them I silently detached myself from the people around me.
By the end of the summer I realized my life was starting to spiral out of control. I was having a very hard time keeping myself together in public at this point. I finally saw how many times I couldn’t get myself out of bed… how often the monsters in my brain were telling me “Well what if you just stepped out in front of that car?”, “What if someone just pushed you onto the subway tracks?”, “What if you just slid silently under the water in your bathtub right this second?”. I needed help and I needed it fast.
The day I realized how bad everything was, was also the day I realized I had no one left to help me. I panicked as I woke up.. I was grabbing face trying to stay silent as I felt my body sinking into the sheets of my bed. I felt like I was going to drown at the thought of being alone. That’s when my husband turned over and smiled at me. He kindly reminded me it was time to get up and helped me to get out of bed. I wasn’t alone. I never was.
After this all happened, I remember a blur of a series of events happening. I know I did go to the doctors, I remember crying in her office on more than one occasion. I remember her pointing out to me how much I smiled when I cried because I still was trying to hold back and protect my feelings — I was still acting like nothing was wrong in front of her. I remember her diagnosing me with Chronic Depression & Anxiety with Panic Attacks. I remember her recommending to me to go onto antidepressants, but never forcing me to do so. I remember how awful it felt when she said I should take medication… I was never upset about her wanting to put me on medication, I never felt like it was wrong to go on medication and I still don’t. I just felt so defeated, I couldn’t believe I allowed myself to get to that point. I remember kindly taking the prescription and walking out of the office feeling overwhelmed, head spinning wondering how I was going to go back to the office after hearing all this. I remember researching frantically for the next few weeks on how to heal myself. I remember deciding to not fill my doctors prescription and it being the scariest moment and hardest decision of my life.
At the end of the day, I couldn’t tell you what actually made me better. I mean, I could tell you all the things I changed in my life and you could tell me that is what fixed me. But the truth is, I’m not fixed, I am far from it... My head is just a little bit clearer now, when I laugh I am not holding back whimpers & tears as much and when I get home I very rarely find myself laying on the floor.
I am lucky. I am always repeating that to myself in my head with every step I take. Lucky I am to be figuring out how to live with my depression without medication. Lucky to be walking. Lucky to be alive.
I am turning 25 this year and depression has been in my life since I was about 14 — silently slipping in and out of my head whenever it feels it needs to. Like many people, if you look at my life on paper you might question the pain I feel on a constant basis. If you know me in person, you might be even more confused as to how someone with such a big smile constantly pasted on her face could be trying to figure out the fastest way to b-line out of your sight to go wipe her tears in the washroom and turn those giggles you hear into whimpers of pain. In what seems like my magical life, there is no reason I should be diagnosed with depression.
This story will be the first time I admit to everyone that I have Chronic Depression. This is the first time I will ask for help from everyone as I beg of you all to bear with me as I learn to not fear telling people about my illness, to not fear that people won’t believe me when I say I am sick. This is the first time of many times, I will smile and be relieved that I don’t have to hide anymore.