I used to be vivacious. I vaguely remember those days, the days where I was always on the go and in want of someone’s company because life was full of possibilities. I remember smiling and laughing without force. Sometimes, when I try, I can even remember what it was like to not have constant darkness standing over me and threatening to pull me into myself.
I’m not that person anymore and I’m left with only memories of who I once was. I clinically suffer from depression and anxiety. I’ve only said it or admitted to a handful of close friends and my husband, only 2 people truly believe me and not one really knows what it means. I should have a shelf full of Oscars for the performance I put on pretending that “I’m fine”. Today, I’m not fine.
So, what does it mean? For me, it means pain. It means fear. It means sadness. It means anger. It means loneliness. For me, it does not mean suicidal or batshit crazy. I was spared the batshit crazy gene, thank God. For me, it’s most definitely NOT “in my head” and I cannot simply choose to “get over it”. There is no medication I can take and magically feel better. I take medication to manage this condition, but sometimes it’s unmanageable.
More often than not, I can be in a depressive state or having an episode and you’ll be standing right next to me and never know. I still show up to gatherings with friends and family because I still show up for my kids and my husband every day and these are the things required of me.
I am a mother, wife, aunt, daughter, sister, friend, and coworker and sometimes that’s really hard for me. Sometimes that makes me cry from the overwhelming knowledge that so many people rely on me and deep down I know I cannot even rely on myself. So many days I just want to let the covers swallow me whole and disappear until these horrible feelings disappear. But, I can’t. I have a life, I have children, I have a husband, I have a career and all of this means I can’t escape to a corner in my room for days like I want to.
I wish I could openly talk to my loved ones about this to help them understand what I feel, but I can’t. I can only write. It’s my mask. Today, behind my mask, I will try to explain it to those who don’t battle these consuming disorders.
Anxiety makes me feel everything all the time and at one time. It feels like suffocation. It feels like drowning. It’s consuming. It’s scary as hell. I feel like I’m losing control. I can’t catch my breath, I can’t see my way through my own fears and I just want to find a dark room. Hearing my loved ones tell me to breathe or calm down or take a pill only adds to these feelings. I feel like they’ve just pushed my head a little further under.
When the anxiety starts to fade and I come out of the suffocating fog, depression is there to latch on and its hold is so strong and so hard to get away from. Depression knows that’s when I’m at my weakest and it twists and turns like smoke and smothers everything that is good in life. My doctor once said that depression is an emotional paralysis. He’s right, it really is. Depression lies to me, fills me full of thoughts of how worthless I am, how much I have failed myself, my family, my friends, my coworkers. Depression steals any ray of light that reminds me I am loved and worthy of being loved.
When the smoke of depression begins to pull back, it leaves me with anger. Anger at myself for falling victim to this disease. Anger at myself for being so miserable. Anger at my friends and family for not seeing through the fake persona I put on so that no one sees just how weak I am. I just want to scream “I’M FUCKING DROWNING, DON’T YOU SEE ME??”, but instead I smile and say, “I’m fine”.
Depression is exhausting. Once the anger subsides I am too tired to care. I am too tired to get up and cook dinner for my family. I sit and I cry because I know I have chores, I have duties, I have kids to feed, dogs to feed, clothes to wash, a house to clean and I just can’t. I’m so exhausted. I’m emotionally drained and I just need to lay down and cry and cry and cry.
These are my bad days. These are the days when I succumb. I can be like this for a few days and then not again for several months. It sneaks up on me and I’m never prepared when it hits me. Depression is a sneaky bastard. It’s an evil I never knew existed and then when I knew, I never fully understood what all it was. Now that I live with it, I know all too well that depression can be debilitating and suffocating and incorrigible, and I hate it immensely.
Man is least himself when he talks in his own person.
Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.
– Oscar Wilde