I struggle with depression. Underneath these curly blond hair and this big wide smile, there are some pretty dark and troublesome visions.
If you don’t know it, it’s not that I’m trying to hide it from anyone. It’s simply not something you can casually share next to the coffee machine. If it does come out, it will probably be in some sort of whining you might confuse with the usual grumble about daily life of those who live in the corporate world. Therefore you only get to see the itsy bitsy tip of the iceberg.
You have no idea what it feels like to wake up in the morning wanting to throw up, to ask yourself if it is justified to call in sick when your biggest health issue is a creation of your mind. You don’t know how it feels to not be that excited about the week-end, because really there is no rest with that monster in your head. You can’t imagine how dark the thoughts can become when I feel alone at night, wishing there was a way out of suffering. Or maybe you do, and I don’t know, because neither of us talk about it.
It’s not that I don’t trust you. It’s not that I don’t want you to know. Mostly, it’s because in the end, I am the first one trying to pretend there is nothing wrong. I am the first one trying to convince myself that I am doing all fine.
There is some truth in that. I am indeed going to make it through. I am somehow lucky: my depression is not the “stay-in-bed-can’t-do-anything” kind of depression. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. The depressive and scary state makes me go on and on, running away from the ugly visions of holes and day-long nightmares. Mixed with my creative energy, it is sometimes what kept me going through long and demanding projects. Afraid of being bored and therefore confronted to those dark thoughts, I make sure my agenda is always filled. I don’t plan vacation. The monsters in my head could show up at anytime. I’d rather do the same things, go to the same places, leave no place for surprises. There is no time off when the biggest work is a fight that involves ugly creatures in your head.
This burning fire is the fuel to my life, until it consumes me. I get burned out. I am burned out. I lost. The chasing monsters now have a grasp on me. All the thoughts I was pushing away are now coming back at me, a huge wave of sadness, depletion, and hopelessness. There it is, the thought I was the most scared of is now the first one I have waking up in the morning: there is no point. We are all gonna die, so why do we even give a fuck?
This thought, those dark visions, are holding me back. They’re the reason why I don’t move on with my life, why I don’t jump and take risks, why I keep my job and don’t go freelance. Because I’m scared as hell that one day, I might wake up and the thoughts will be bigger than my will power. That I might not be able to fight them anymore. That the monsters can win. And on that morning, I am afraid I won’t be able to see the point anymore, and my high-functioning depression will become a ““stay-in-bed-can’t-do-anything” depression. At that moment, I don’t want to be alone. I want to be able to count on a safety net, a security blanket. The kind of thing I cannot provide myself with a 100% yet.
I once believe there was a cure. After 13 years of struggling, I don’t think there is one. I tried therapy and meds, programs and books. They did help, up to a certain point. The thoughts are worse when I am tired, overworked, underfed. So I make sure to take care of myself properly. I sleep, I eat, I move. I even take baths now. But even when I do everything right, there is still something wrong.
Which is fine. Because my dark visions are both a curse and a blessing. Waking up every morning knowing that there is rationally no point, but still deciding to move on because your heart knows better, makes me stronger. Having to live knowing we are all going to die makes me give fucks only about what needs to be given a fuck about.
Slowly, with years and years of practice, I learn to accept. As Krishnamurti once said,
“The first step is the last step. The first step is to perceive, perceive what you are thinking, perceive your ambition, perceive your anxiety, your loneliness, your despair, this extraordinary sense of sorrow, perceive it, without any condemnation, justification, without wishing it to be different. Now that perception is the final step, and when you have perceived, you leave it, forget it, because the next minute you have to perceive anew, which is again the final step.”
Whenever I struggle, I come back to that quiet space. My breath. What is here and now. Suddenly, I see clearly again. I can for a moment let go of anything else and be in that moment. Pure love.
Come over my way big monsters. Stop hiding under my bed. Let’s see how you look in the daylight. I am not afraid anymore.