I’m afraid of the word depression. Years of incorrect messaging and inadequate understanding of mental health have taught me to shrink from it, to think instantly that if you suffer from depression, it becomes a life sentence to a prison of your own making. It feels like the monster under the bed, this big amorphous but menacing fog. Without helpful interference, the word brings up images of commercials shot in gray/blue scale. People staring hollowly out of windows, unable to finish their morning yogurt, preferring instead to sit listlessly on the floor next to the staircase or something.
I hesitate to name depression in myself because of the fear previously mentioned, as well as the fear of trivializing something that is very real and very serious and affects a lot of people actually, not maybe. I don’t want to disrespect those suffering by being a hypochondriac. And to boot, I hesitate to name it because I don’t understand depression — it can come and go, or it can come and stay. And if it comes and goes but comes back, did it ever really leave? I have so many questions. But I know there have been days when I did not want to get out of bed, the kind where it feels like your body is made of lead. There have been days when I couldn’t stop crying, there have been days when I couldn’t care less about anything but watching Netflix until my eyes rot. It's scary to call out depression because once you’ve named it, there are things to do about it. Possibly medicines to take, self-care to practice, things you actually have to say out loud to your therapist. It feels overwhelming, it’s easier to just “be sad”, or “have a bad week”, go under the radar. And like I said, who knows, maybe I have just been sad. In any case, the last few months have been difficult.
What do you do when you’re in it? I think both depression and positivity (joy, happiness, whatever you desire to call the opposite of depression) are feedback cycles. In depression, your scope narrows, it’s harder to see possibility, it’s harder to believe you don’t know the future won't be the same as it has been. In joy, it’s easier to be open, to surrender with grace, to bounce back, to bloom. So what do you do when you’ve fallen into a rut? Excellent question, and something I think everyone has to answer for themselves. One thing I am trying though, is if it feels like depression is the monster under the bed, made all the more scary because it remains cloaked in mystery, perhaps the way to take some of its power is to name it, to shine a light on it. One of my friends once said she believed depression is a natural response to the happenings in life, and that felt freeing. I still have my reservations for naming it myself, but that is my own process. If you think you’re feeling anything even remotely resembling depression, I hope you find your own healing process.*
*Disclaimer: Guys. I’m not a doctor. I literally just spent this whole post telling you I don’t know anything about depression. So seriously, if you feel like you need help, talk to somebody qualified and trained in this stuff, please! Find healing.