By Gwen Suehunu
[Photo Source: Pixabay.com]
I started telling people that I was sick. And depending how long the episode would last, I’d either tell them I had a cold or say that I had the flu. Both options are a false diagnosis of what’s really going on with me, but often times lies are easier to swallow than the truth. And I’m learning that depression, unfortunately, is one of those things that thrives on lies and seclusion. And like the typical enabler, I try to satiate it out of the misguided fear that it’ll only get worse if I don’t. So I lie and I hide.
I liken living with depression to being in a long-term relationship with a relentlessly jealous lover. It’s an emotionally abusive partner that’s careful not to leave any bruises or scratches on my veneer so outsiders won’t suspect anything is wrong. I’m also blessed (or cursed) with a seemingly outwardly sunny disposition. Meanwhile, it wages psychological warfare on my mind and taxes my physical health daily. And as much as I would like to divorce myself from it, I’m stuck in its grasp; a helpless cycle that consists of me running away from a punch that just hits harder the longer I try to stay clear of its fist.
It peeks over my shoulder and reads my text messages from friends. It reads between the lines and finds hostility where there is none. When I’m treated with kindness it’s anxious to sniff out undercover motives. Arms folded and sneering, it stands in the background of any event I attend or moment I have the audacity to genuinely smile. I feel like it punishes me for every positive opportunity or achievement by delving me further into the abyss once the endorphins die down.
When I’m out spending time with friends and family, or working, or engaging in any celebratory activity, I can hear its hum in the background. Sometimes it’s a low hum, like when the sky is a bright Cobalt blue bathed in sunrays but small grey clouds are on the edge of the horizon teasing rain. Those days, I can still see it in my peripheral view. It’s like a mosquito on a warm day, softly buzzing near me, waiting for its chance to pierce through my skin and begin its feast. Other times, it’s a flash rainstorm. It descends without any obvious warning and seeks to devour me and everything I hold near. It sucks me up in its cyclone and spits me out, leaving me feeling raw, battered, and exposed.
Medically speaking, I’m diagnosed with PDD (Persistent Depressive Disorder) which is a form of long-term depression. Metaphorically speaking, I’m wounded prey trying to escape out of a doorless cage.
I admit, sometimes I do give in and dance with the proverbial devil that is the disease of depression. I let it wrap itself around me until I’m ensconced under its heavy cloak. I sway to its dulling rhythm until it I feel the ache in my bones and it seeps through my pores. At night, I lie in bed with it curled around me possessively, singing me a seductively cruel lullaby of all my doubts and insecurities. During the day, my eyelids and body sagging from a lack of sleep, I then do battle with paranoia. Because although depression is a very egocentric disease, it also makes you acutely aware of how your behavior affects others. I spend a lot of time overcompensating for my perceived failures as a lover, family member, and a friend. I overexert myself physically, emotionally, and financially to make up for it. This then triggers feelings of inadequacy which turns into resentment which turns into bitterness and that then melts into anguish. Then rinse, repeat… and rinse, repeat again.
And that’s the part that I hate the most. The redundancy. I hate that me and depression are inextricably bound together because this relationship is so largely one sided. Because there is no cure for depression, only maintenance and preparation for its next visit. And in doing that I always lose a little more of myself each time around. I lose the interest and support of those who care for me the most by pushing them away. I lose precious time and my sense of direction. And lastly, I lose an integral sense of my identity–who I used to be, who I thought I’d become, and who I wanted to be, with little to no hope of who I can still become.
But that’s all I can type for now. It’s getting late, nearly a quarter towards midnight and my depression is beckoning me to bed with a fresh promise of a sleepless night in its arms.