If you’ve ever experienced depression you’ll know that it sits on you like a suit made of stones. It’s as if your bones are suddenly made of cement, being dragged towards the ground. It hurts to move, you’re so tired and all you can contemplate doing is lying in bed and crying.
Well that’s my experience.
The thing with depression is that people think of it as a mental disorder, as an emotional thing. You are sad and that’s that. But it’s actually something that hijacks your entire being. Everything in you that can be screwed with is. Yeah you’re sad, but there’s so much more. Your taste buds suck, your attention sucks, your brainpower sucks, your energy levels suck, your sleep sucks, your strength sucks, your life sucks, everything sucks and you can’t just snap out of it.
But there is so much pressure on us to do things, so much pressure to work hard and play hard. You need to get a degree, start early, finish late, write that novel, save orphans in Africa and elephants in Nepal, get a good car, get a nice house, get good friends, have Instagram-worthy weekends, get a husband/wife/whatever, have kids, use your time, drink it dry. DON’T WASTE IT.
And I’ve fallen into that trap, of trying to use the whole thing, of freaking out at myself when I’m sitting still, of checking whether I’m going to regret this on my deathbed. But it drives you freaking crazy after a while, especially when you realise that most other people are not worrying about living, they’re just doing it. Yeah, maybe they’ll look back when they’re seventy and think ‘Shit, I wish I’d…’ but surely that’s better than worrying right up until you’re seventy and beyond?
If you’re a worrier like me, when you’re depressed, the worry is still there, but it’s amplified. Not only are you not doing any of the things you’re ‘supposed’ to because you can barely find the strength to push your covers off, but you’re also seeing your whole life through the foggy kind of glasses that tell you that you can’t do anything right. Everything you’ve ever been proud of is skewed or disappears. Everything you’ve ever wanted is impossible. Everything is bleak and black and there is no light because there is no tunnel. There is only fog.
You forget how you did life when everything was fine and your brain was balanced. It’s incomprehensible that you were able to achieve anything with the same body and the same bones that now feel like bronze anchors scraping against the ground. It feels like you’re looking through the magic mirror at an entirely different person who is somehow able to navigate the quicksand and the sludge like they’re only air.
But you’ve got to remember that different people are capable of different things, and when you’re depressed it’s as if your brain has flicked a switch and swapped your body with your not evil, but less-capable twin.
For a baby, walking is a crazy awesome achievement.
For a heroin addict, not taking heroin is a crazy awesome achievement.
For a learner, driving around a roundabout without causing a five car pile-up is a crazy awesome achievement.
And for someone who’s depressed, staying alive is a crazy awesome achievement.
There is a baseline for what we, as human beings are required to do, and that is eat, drink, sleep and breathe. If you are doing those things, you are amazing. If you are doing those things whilst working or going to school, you are epic. And if you are doing all of those things, plus work or school, plus extras like dealing with strangers/friends/children/parents/etc. then that is some next generation level shiz, and the Queen needs to send you a medal.
Nobody is expecting you to invent a cure for cancer or start a colony on Mars. Nobody is expecting you to save the world. The world just wants you to save yourself.
I can guarantee you that there is at least one person that cares about you, even if it’s some random on the internet like me. I care about you. You are an important piece of this gigantic, mysterious puzzle. And if the people who care about you knew that one more straw would break your back, they would never expect you to take it. They would rather you were here and their dinner came out of a packet. Trust me.
It doesn’t matter if today you don’t write that thousand words, or finish that assignment, or paint the fence, or wash the dishes, or even shower, because as long as you are breathing, as long as you are alive, you are doing just fine.
You’re not failing if you don’t do what you ‘should’. A wise lady once told me that ‘shoulds are shits’ and I tend to agree. You’re not failing if you’re alive. If you’re not giving into the darkness, then you are winning one of the hardest wars that you will ever fight. Just because there are no guns or spears or cannons doesn’t mean it’s not a battle. You’re fighting and while you’re alive you’re winning, remember that.
It’s hard to admit that you’re failing.
It’s even harder to admit that you’re not.