Have you ever been depressed?
I was never clinically diagnosed. Throughout my life there were many periods where I felt severely depressed for months at a time. I hope you relate to this article and find it meaningful.
How It Started
I always knew why my depression started. At first it was school. I absolutely hated school. In grade 3 I told my mom that I'd rather die than go to school. Each bus ride, each day spent in a classroom, I felt like my life force and will to live were being forcefully syphoned out of me. I couldn't stand the sheer meaninglessness of school. It made me so feel nihilistic and angry. I constantly felt frustrated with how busy I was. I resented my teachers and the principal, and I resented my parents for sending me. I felt that the system of education was not meant to make me smarter, but to drain my will from me. To take my very spirit and the joy from my life. Although the experience of others may drastically differ, that was how I felt for 12 long, grueling years.
Looking back, I know that my depression started long before going to school. It began at home, where I was constantly on guard and anxious. What made me the most angry, depressed, and miserable was being yelled at by my parents, being slapped, or shamed for something I had no control over. The life of no freedom, of slavery to apathetic parents, and going to school where I had empty friendships and the constant business of choking back pointless trivia. Life itself became a slow trudge towards death. That's what it felt like. As if I was just slowly walking through a couple feet of snow, completely naked, with no end in sight. Hoping that I would freeze to death or that I might just drop dead at any moment.
How can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?— Tribal African Girl
Where Is God?
For 15 years I was a Christian. For most of those years I was deeply depressed. Not only because of how I was treated at school and at home, but because I knew what was going on in the world. I knew that children continued to starve to death by the thousands, that homeless people were falling asleep on the cold concrete of a city street while myself and others had a cozy warm bed to crawl into in the evening.
I couldn't understand how a loving God could create such a world full of misery, suffering, and despair. I knew I had to love God but I couldn't, I had to pretend.
Angry At The Happiness of Others
If you've ever been depressed I'm sure you know how it feels to be angry about other people's happiness. You ask yourself, how can they be happy? They must be faking it, and their smile becomes a toxic fakery that makes you feel sick to your stomach. Don't they know what's going on? Don't they know how other people feel? I just couldn't believe that other people were so god damned cheery all the time. It viscerally pissed me off.
As I would fall asleep my thoughts would wander about, I'd find myself feeling stressed, my heart rate increasing. I just couldn't believe that all of this was real. That people were happy. Why couldn't we change things? Why were my parents so indifferent to the feelings of myself and my brothers? Why were the teachers at school so concerned with their own petty power over the classroom? Questions would race through my mind and I just wanted to fall asleep. The only way I could fall asleep was to remind myself that every night that I didn't deliberately try to stay awake, I would fall asleep. I would try to think about that fact until I fell asleep.
That's the biggest problem with depression. You're already tired enough, your spirit, your soul is already so tired of living in a lifeless world that you desperately need more sleep. And you know you need more rest. When its 2am you look at your clock and think, I have to be up and ready for school/work in 5 hours. And then you begin to feel stressed about not getting enough sleep, and the stress from not getting enough sleep makes it so that you can't get enough sleep. It becomes this vicious cycle that repeats night after night.
When I woke up in the morning it was like I just time traveled a few hours into the future. And now I have to get up and get ready to go, and I'm so tired that I feel paralyzed. Then the thought of all the bullshit I have to do during the day paralyzes me even more. Like a weight just strapped onto my back as soon as I get out of bed. I look in the mirror and all I can think is fuck. I'm so tired I can't function, and I'm expected to work all day and be busy and productive. I just can't take it. As I eat breakfast the spoon in my hand feels heavy, the food bland and tasteless. For the whole morning my eyes feel heavy. Until I get my hands on a coffee or an energy drink, then I could more easily pretend to be happy about my work and my education, and not drag everyone else around me down to the pits of despair I lived in.
I always felt bad. Like I was ruining everyone else's life with my negativity. I was dragging everyone down with me. It felt absolutely awful. I became afraid of my own scowl, and I would begin to head out with a big fake smile. I'd put myself into public mode, hiding all of the misery within. I would feel guilty about smiling and engaging in a conversation with someone when I really didn't have the energy or motivation to give a fraction of a shit about anything they said.
I wanted so desperately to find some kind of meaningful connection, a relationship worth having, something real. But I couldn't find anyone who could bear to be around me for a span of time. I was just too "negative." I was a party pooper, a downer. I hated this so much because I felt trapped. To have friends and people who cared about me I had to tell them how I was feeling, I had to be genuine. But I couldn't, because then I would just drive them away. I felt like I was just an annoyance, a nuisance. I felt so frustrated about this, it was paralyzing and at the same time incredibly isolating.
When I finally felt like I met someone who really understood what it was like, I felt so happy. I had a girl who really knew how I felt, she had functioning empathy it seemed, and she wasn't afraid to hear about my negative experiences and the way I felt. The feeling of being loved was so freeing. I couldn't help but be deathly afraid of losing her. I knew that If I lost her I would be back in the depths of psychological isolation, and it would be a miracle for another person to come along and cheer me up. And of course I loved and lost many times, and the cycle repeated. Breaking up, the most infuriating and depressing moments of my life. It was as if I had trusted someone with everything I had, my thoughts, dreams, secrets, ambitions and hopes, and in the midst of fear, the fear of loss, I would lose them. They would be long gone and happier with someone else, and I would remain in a pit of psychological isolation. A place so bitterly cold, so loathsome and maddeningly lonely, that I would be happier dead. At least then I would not have to feel pain, the only thing I could feel.
Many times I was ready to end my own life. In grade 3 I held a hunting knife to my throat and thought about what it would feel like to bleed out on the floor. The thought alone was somehow comforting, the idea that I could leave if it was too much. If I couldn't handle it anymore, I didn't have to. I thought about what my brothers would think, how long my mom would be depressed for, how my dad would react, and how my friends might speak of me when I was gone. I couldn't bring myself to care enough about their sadness at my death, if they cared enough it seems I wouldn't have been holding a knife to my throat, or contemplating what it would be like to drop through the rotted roof of a hundred-foot tall water tower. If people really cared about me, I felt like I might then be able to care about myself. To feel some kind of inherent value, however superficial it might be.
The last time I was ready to end it I was at the top of a cell phone tower. Around 300 feet up. The cold wind steadily blasting in my face. The cold felt warm. The closeness to death felt relaxing and comforting. There I was, with just an arm and a foot keeping me from falling off of an antenna protruding from the tower. I wanted so desperately to let go. I had too. I couldn't fucking take it anymore. Death seemed like the sweetest release. I was ready to let go. But I couldn't do it. I felt ashamed that I would bring myself up there, after thinking about it for so long, writing a note and the whole works, but I just couldn't do it.
Will to Survive
That's when I realized my will to survive was more powerful than my depression could ever be. The tiny sliver of hope remaining in my broken heart was strong enough to overcome the desperation for death. I saw then that the hope I had within me, the natural will to survive, it was all I needed to get out of depression. As I climbed down the tower I felt a rush of endorphins, the pain was gone, and I knew that my will power was indomitable and that with it I could change myself and the world. I was no longer afraid of death, I was ready for it. To this day I'm grateful for the experiences my depression brought me to. I found that after I lost my fear of death, all other fears and pain felt so weak. I knew that I was strong enough to turn my life around, and improve the lives of others.
Thank you for reading this summary of my experience with depression. I hope you found it inspiring or at least relatable to your situation.