So recently I met someone who told me something interesting- that she had utilized her depression as a way to bond with similar minded individuals. The concept itself baffled me. Every time I’d brought up the topic around people, their reactions could be easily sorted into these categories:-
1- Extreme pity. I’m talking ‘BooHoo you broken soul…talk to me when you feel depressed again’ level of pity. ‘Say something nice at the moment and then forget it’ pity.
2- Disbelief. ‘You seem too happy to be depressed’ or ‘Girls this young don’t get depressed’ or even the occasional ‘You have everything! Why would you feel depressed?’
3- Accusations. ‘Oh the special snowflake syndrome’ or ‘You’re just trying to get attention, huh?’
4- Awkwardness. Followed by sudden change of subject. ‘Oh so you were once depressed, huh… Ever heard of the Great Depression of Europe? I’ve always wanted to visit Europe’
Sometimes I think to myself, why do I even bother? When people ask you ‘how are you?’ they expect an ‘I’m fine, thank you!’. It’s more a matter of politeness rather than genuine interest.
I’ve been living with depression for a very long time now. When people ask me for the ‘exact reasons’ as to why it started, I can name a lot. I was bullied a lot and as a result, lost my voice for about two years. Friends? I didn’t have any for a long time. Of course, there were the occasional sun-lit spots in my life- contrary to popular belief, a depressed individual doesn’t always live life in the grey. But even so, it is true that many times I’d reached the lowest of the low.
The worst came when I was seventeen. I had no friends (only a handful of acquaintances), a teacher who hated my guts and wasted no opportunity to put me down (my sin being that I dared correct her mistake once) , an ex-bully whom everyone hated but ‘loved’, over-expectant parents and of course, the ever-demanding Indian society. It reached the lowest pit when a relative made advances towards me, and I was blamed for ‘fueling’ his passions. For the first time, I want it all to end. How easy would it be to leave this all behind? I spent two days drawing up the perfect plan to kill myself. Then I burnt it. I was depressed, but not that desperate.
I always laughed at jokes, though. I never cut myself…not really deep, anyway. I smiled and jumped around like everything was alright with the world. I studied harder than ever and was almost at the top of my grade. But my private life was in shambles. I kept hating what I saw in the mirror. I hated how disproportionately big my head was. I hated how I could never gain weight no matter how hard I tried. I hated my frizzy hair and squinty eyes. A lot of guys had confessed to me during that period, but it didn’t matter. To me, I was a lost cause- the ugly duckling who’d never blossom into a swan.
I’ve come a long way since then. Gradually, I started attending literary competitions (Still can’t speak well in public, though). I use my depression to provide me with inspiration to do a variety of things. At one time I had gotten over sad spells by locking myself in my room and sobbing into the pillow. Nowadays, I go out for a walk. Sometimes I walk more than seven kilometers, treat myself to some ice cream and don’t return until I’m comfortable with myself.
Basically, I deal with shit by myself.
I know that there are a lot of people out there who have had similar experiences. And there are even more people out there who’d see them as trivial and demean the immensity of the effect those experiences have had on us.
I live in a country where anyone who consults a psychiatrist is labelled as ‘insane’. I’ve never been put on meds or had someone to talk it all out with. I don’t know how I would’ve turned out had I been exposed to such help.
Nevertheless, I am content with my life right now. I have not magically emerged from the cocoon depression thrust me into, but nowadays the cocoon has become airy and comfortable. Better yet, I can see it begin to fall apart.
Don’t give up on your struggle, everyone 🙂