Depression is a personal battle. Each of our experience is unique, despite the basic symptoms being laid out in the DSM-V. Sometimes, it’s hard to figure out what’s happening to us on our own. How do you really know if you are depressed? Are you genuinely sick or just exaggerating? Is it a phase? Will it pass?
The answer is always the same in our mind: maybe, it depends. If you want to be sure, all you need to do is to voice out your doubts, right? No, but what if you end up making a fool of yourself?
I’ve been there. Keeping it in and instead, staying up all night googling about it. Self-diagnosing. Looking for answers.
But I always end up back to square one. So I’ve decided to face my own demons today, with this blog post, and share my own experience of my maybe-depressive episodes. What I’m going to write may have no relation to what you are feeling when you are depressed or it may totally feel the same. As a non-professional, I cannot give you a definite answer, but maybe, just maybe, you’ll come out of this with a better outlook and a clearer vision of what to do next.
Frankly, I’m writing and sharing this with the world in the hopes that someone out there can finally relax and say: yes, I feel the same and no, I am not alone.
If you are confused and feel totally lost, know that…
Self-awareness is the first step.
Ask yourself, how do you feel? How can you describe this… sadness or emptiness inside of you?
So here we go. Here’s how I feel when I get depressed.
I’m in a black hole. And everything is in black and white. The waves, the sea, the sun… everything is cold. And I can’t feel them. I can’t feel the things I’m supposed to feel. Or maybe I just don’t want to feel.
Everything feels like a chore. Waking up, dressing up, breathing. Eating. Smiling. Laughing at jokes. Knowing when to laugh at jokes. It’s tiring. Looking at my hands, at the movements I make… like I’ve never seen these before.
I’m stuck in a box. Four walls of glass. Almost soundproof because I can only hear the echoes of what people say and what I say. I want to break free and join them. Join the group and be part of the team. But then I don’t want it enough to break the glass. Sometimes I just don’t want it at all.
After all, what’s the point, if you’re just going to go back inside? You’ll feel great for a minute but then the black hole and the greyscale and the chores will come back.
I’ve been reciting the DSM-V symptoms for MDD (Major Depressive Disorder) over and over in my head in all kinds of order, like the diligent Psychology student I used to be. Depressed mood. Diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities every day. Insomnia or hypersomnia. Decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day. Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. Fatigue. These are the ones I’m sure I have.
And the occasional ones. Indecisive. Can’t focus. Impairs my daily functioning, like being unable to work.
The 9th symptom is recurring suicidal thoughts. Do I have these? No. Maybe. I don’t know. Does not caring about whether you die or not count?
Sometimes, it feels there’s no meaning to this life I’m living. Just like there’s no way out. I’m stuck. What do you live for? What are you working for? Money? Cars? Fame? Fuck this. It’s all so shallow and so superficial. This is not the life I had planned for myself. This is not my life.
I’d stare at my hands, at my whole body, and tell myself: this isn’t me.
You wish there’d be someone who would extend their arm and pull you out of this black hole. You’re holding out your hand, waiting for this moment, fantasizing this moment. And here comes the Interstellar soundtrack in your head. Ha, this movie reference makes you laugh. It’s funny. But your laugh is dry.
What’s the next step?
So you’ve realised you are depressed after all. What should you do? This may be obvious but TALK TO SOMEONE. Putting those horrible thoughts into words, whether told out loud or written down (like this post!), may feel daunting at first, but it helps. It helps to seek help.
And once you’re done with that, let’s take it one step further: seek professional help. See a therapist. Talk to a counsellor. Chat with a psychologist.
It may be scary at first, but know that this is the hand we’ve been waiting for. The hand to pull us out from the black hole.
Let’s do this.
D. K. Waye.