It’s a box– a dark inescapable place where the ground you stand on is a bottomless shaft. It’s a vast ocean where waves of hope recedes more than it surges. Thoughts are often inebriated: fear, despair, shame, guilt, worthlessness, emptiness and most times the feeling is unexplainable. “A colorful world?… well more like black or white.. perhaps greyscale. The proverbial light in the distance that energies life grows dimmer and dimmer while the hole you’ve fallen into consumes you entirely.
A cancer of the soul. A complete paralysis of the mind. A play of the smiling person you used to be…
Depression… mythicized… ignored… but real; and unknowingly to many, it was a real part of my “smiling” life.
The year 2011 commenced my battle with the undiscussed “Big D.” While in the midst of preparing for CAPE exams, someone… something was rude enough to dim my life lights and eventually switch them off. However, at that time, I didn’t identify that I possibly had a mental illness. After all, sadness was equated with weakness and I had been called strong and heroic repeatedly after my mom passed in 2008. I was not prepared to call myself a “wimp.” In the presence of my denial, guilt and embarrassment crashed in as I grew increasingly listless– never studying, always eating, always sleeping but never feeling rested.
My attendance in school dropped and so did my grades. Friends walked out and I was all alone. Teachers looked on in grave disappointment as they watched me plummet to rock bottom. I didn’t get the scholarship they foresaw me winning. Depression stole my ever-dreaming mind and switched it for lifeless rock.
Then… my lights turned back on.
University brought much smiles and laughter amidst several sleepless nights. She… Jo, a.k.a “Smilie” was back. I became the overachiever as I managed to develop friendships, receive academic prizes and hold leadership positions. “I’m doing pretty good!” I immersed myself in pools of positivity, consuming as many motivational videos and books, Pinterest quotes and christian posters from my church’s bookstore. I definitely would have won the prize for having the brightest eyes and bushiest tail.
Unfortunately, my burst of happiness and positivity lasted maximum 2 years although many would think that it was always present.
2015 marked the year of the suicidal death of my best friend, a murder of a neighbour, fatal accident of a guy that I not too long met and the sight of my dog of 8 years being eaten by vultures. Life decided to do its own damn thing without being sensitive to what I needed. My family moved twice further making my standing ground an unstable one. My lights switched off.
The following months was similarly characterized by my first encounter with depression. However this time I sought help and was put on medication by a lovely doctor. I won’t go into detail with what happened but what I can tell you was that it felt like there was a black hole not too far from where I stood and every good thing including my entire self was eaten alive by an abyss of nothingness. I managed to still achieve First Class honors and other academic prizes. Unfortunately, depression reduced me to feeling worthless and hopeless. The light I didn’t see. The happiness I didn’t feel. I didn’t feel anything but anger and pain when I saw pictures of myself smiling in the past. I wanted to be “Smilie” Jo again.
I tell you all of this because I was the happiest person you could have imagined. I was versed in the “greener side” discourse. My eyes shun the brightest, my gait was the most confident but my heart and mind was the dimmest and darkest. Today… with many thanks to my heavenly Father and a few supportive friends, I can safely say that my lights aren’t so dim. Though, I know some days feel like I’m in my own time zone, I note my progress and the authenticity of my smile. I’m patient with myself and I worry not when others don’t understand my strong desires to be left alone. The truth is no one really understands what it’s like to be interfered with by depression. Actually, only you and God understands.
My fellow readers, Depression is a real thing. I saw my happy-go-lucky best friend changed out for a hollow shell. The internet has so much information about it so misunderstanding should not even be an excuse. Educate yourself and know that a depressed person doesn’t choose depression but its chooses them. It’s not a sign of weakness but a sign of illness. If you experience any of the following, please seek help:
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
- Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
- Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- Irritability, restlessness
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
- Overeating or appetite loss
- Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
Click this link for more info, Symptoms of Depression
Don’t let depression accompany you to the grave. It can and must be conquered.
Daily Post Challenge Word: Gray