-a depressed or sunken place or part; an area lower than the surrounding surface.
-sadness; gloom; dejection.
-Psychiatry: a condition of general emotional dejection and withdrawal; sadness greater and more prolonged than that warranted by any objective reason.
Depression, to me, feels like walking alone in the woods on a cold, bleak winter day and not knowing where you are going or where you came from or why you are there. Happiness and joy do not exist in these woods and it is getter darker and darker and you do not know the way out. You are all alone in the world and no one cares or notices.
My depression started, as far as I can tell, in college and got worse in the few years right after I graduated. The world seemed hostile and uninviting. I was always profoundly sad. I had a hard time performing basic every-day tasks, such as doing my laundry, getting up and going to work, enjoying social events, and maintaining friendships. I also had a very hard time pursuing any creative endeavors, particularly my writing, because I was too preoccupied with feeling sad and angry about everything.
I remember a time when I would go to work with the sense that I was walking into hell. I would sit at my desk all day and feel like everything was pointless. Being depressed, I was drawn particularly to depressing subjects, so I would obsessively research things like the Holocaust or read articles about tragedies in the Middle East at work. Those things would fuel my reasoning that everything in the world was sad and happiness was an illusion, and most importantly, that it was not attainable for me. I was doomed to be sad forever.
The future looked like a black hole; I did not know what was coming but I knew that it would not be pleasant. I did not know how to deal with this seeming “reality” so I drank too much, ate unhealthy food, slept too much during the day, and stayed up all night, unable to fall asleep, fretting about the oncoming morning. It made no sense to me that other people were able to enjoy their lives. That was completely foreign to me.
Perhaps those thoughts about other peoples’ happiness made me feel hostile towards others because many of my friendships fell apart during that time of intense depression. The friendships I did have became strained and I preferred to be alone all the time. Romantic relationships were completely out of the question, though I yearned for the comfort of a relationship and since I didn’t have that, I felt even worse about myself. I felt like there was something wrong with me.
One of the best decisions I have ever made for myself was to seek therapy. I realized, finally, that the way I was feeling was not normal and that I did not have to feel that way. In therapy you are able to constructively discuss your feelings and receive valuable guidance on how to improve your quality of life. I was skeptical about medication at first because I was worried it would “change” me. I was scared it would make my brain different and I would not be able to write. I thought my sadness was a necessary aspect of my creativity, since it had been that way for so long. Turns out I was wrong. Medication, combined with therapy, alleviates some of the sense of hopelessness so that it is possible to free up my mind and emotions for positive thoughts and creativity. Medication takes the edge off of my depressive thoughts so that they do not seem as devastating and I am able to fall asleep much more easily at night. I feel calmer, and I am still the same person I was before, only I can smile now!
When I look back on how I was a year and a half ago, before therapy, I cannot fathom how I got through the day. Depression is crippling and takes all the joy out of life. Now that I have been working on feeling better for a while, I realize that it is possible to experience joy and love and creativity, and that pain and suffering are a part of life (and art) but not all of it. I have learned that depression is a condition and does not have to be who I am. It takes a lot of work and it is definitely a gradual process, but it is worth it. And, just like with writing, the process is everything.
Thank you for your courage and for your sharing!