What Nobody Told Me About Depression
Nobody ever tells you the real story about living with Depression when you’re diagnosed. Instead, you are handed a vile of pills and an appointment card with a psychiatrist’s name on it. You're gently encouraged with a stoic, “I hope you feel better soon” from a friendly stranger at a reception desk. You might even get a few condoling stares from fellow patients in the counseling office waiting room as you stifle a sniffle and awkwardly pull a Kleenex out of the box. Hopefully, if you’re like me, a friend will be waiting for you outside with an encouraging smile and a pat on the back for taking the first steps towards recovery.
The diagnosis is only step one out of a million in learning how to live with clinical Depression. Truly, there are two sides to this disease - one that is painful and bottomless and another that is encouraging, uplifting, eye-opening, even beautiful in a way. I want you to understand these two sides so that you can learn to coexist with them and learn how to carry a torch with you through the darkness.
The emotional ache of Depression will sometimes be dull and fleeting, but very often can be sharp and throbbing - it will masquerade itself as a rumble of frustration, or sadness, maybe even unfounded jealousy or anger - and make you see the world in only black and white. You may feel as though you’re imprisoned an endless tunnel of self-loathing and destruction that will turn your own thoughts into monsters. A stranger will stare back at you from your reflection in the mirror and cloud your beauty from view. You will act out and hurt those that you love the most. It will do its very best to ruin your plans, your dreams, your future, even your relationships.
But, as I said, Depression is not always woeful and belligerent, though this other side to your struggle may be hard to recognize. In reality, your coping skills will transform you into someone that is so much stronger than you ever thought imaginable. Through every emotional battle, your courage and perseverance will roar through the night. You will learn how to climb mountains and weather the storm because survival amid such agony will at one point be your only option. And someday, after you’ve climbed that mountain, you’ll be able to look down upon your kingdom and take in a view that only those that have known your journey could ever fathom.
It is that stark contrast between the intense lows and the highs that will keep your spirit alive through the darkest of days. There’s a beauty to the calm that comes after the storm. Sure, the darkness can rage on for what feels like an eternity. And it’s true that not everyone will understand the battle scars that gleam upon your wrists and in your heart for what they are - badges of honor. But the light will always find its way home to you through the newfound kindness in your heart and the empathy that swims deeply through your bones for your fellow man. Your ability to carry on amid your most painful days will inspire others just like you. It will grant you the strength to carry your torch with you wherever you go.
"You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it." -Margaret Thatcher