After realising almost a week ago that I had accepted my mild depression as a personality change years ago, I’ve been trying to talk more and more about it.
I’ve since realised two more things:
1. People don’t like talking about depression. Sure, they’ll laugh with you about that one time you almost committed suicide but they never want to dig deeper with you. They can talk about being fat or being ugly or being sad or heartbroken or feeling like a failure… But not depression.
2. People don’t understand depression. They don’t know what to say or how to handle it or, for a moment, be compassionate. I’ve tried explaining it to my boyfriend several times but people really it’s something that you can snap out of but choose not to.
I believed it too. Until a week ago, if you had said that I’d been depressed for 17 years, I would have laughed. I’d have replied saying that I’d had a few ups and downs in the last year, but that I ultimately didn’t have a problem.
I’d seen two shrinks in December and left both feeling like I’m okay. I feel like I should go back but I can’t afford it at the moment.
I look at my past and it all makes sense to me now.
My weight: I put on weight every time I was sad. My weight was always fluctuating and the years that I felt were the hardest, I was at my biggest. My weight protected me from the pain and also enabled the pain… Like a chicken and egg dilemma. The years that I remember as good, I was thinner… Thin. That said, does that mean that right now I’m at my unhappiest?
My personality: I was an extrovert as a kid. I loved attention. I loved adventure. I loved feeling like I’d created something or achieved something. In my teens, I suddenly grew quiet. Everyone assumed it was just a personality change. I spent years thinking that I became an introvert and I switched between the two every now and then. There’s one major difference between introversion and depression, an introvert becomes energised when alone, a depressed person lacks energy.
Hiding: I’d hide a lot. Under clothes, in my room, in a corner… I didn’t want to be seen. I didn’t want to go out. I felt unworthy on every level.
My writing: from as young as 10, my writing was quite emotional. I remember writing a story about domestic abuse at age 10. I didn’t experience it. Maybe I’d heard stories about it. But it was extremely emotional. In high school, my writing had a mental illness focus. Stories about schizophrenics and shrink visits and unhappiness. I even did a talk on mental disorders. By matric, all my poetry had references to death and dying and being unwanted.
My thoughts: my thoughts became quite dark. At age ten, Id walk around school singing ” kill me now, kill me now cos life’s such a drag” to the tune of Grease’s ‘tell me more’. I was constantly thinking and fearing death, I’d think of car crashes as we road tripped or being stabbed or shot. Normally I get to this point before I realise I’m depressed.
My drawings: my final art prac was about death. The one before about betrayal. There was one on hell with the words ‘thou shalt be saved’ and one on God. There was a strong inclination to darkness.
The worst part of it was people labelled and mocked me according to those emotions and low feelings. whether they called me lazy or a hermit or fat or deep… I became that person.
I don’t know where it came from. I don’t know what triggers it. Every now and then I just sink. My mind can only see through negative lenses. I can’t even imagine being positive or seeing things differently.
Words like “I hate myself” and “I’m pathetic” repeat in my mind. Along with feeling fat and ugly.
I just sink. And I have to recognise that I’m sinking before I can pull myself out. I remind myself that I don’t hate myself. That I’m actually quite awesome.
I’m sinking now. Clawing at the rocks to pull myself back out. I need to face me to lose this weight. I need to find me. I need to be me.