I suffer from suicidal depression.
Well, actually, the condition is called: Dysthymia combined with Major Depression sessions, and severe suicidal tendencies. (Quite a mouthful)
I have had this condition for many years. I used to be in therapy for it, but I learned early that I can ‘work’ a therapist far better than I can work out my own problems. Sessions where affirmations are put up on a wall, diaries are kept, and long agonizing conversations about emotions are drawn out three times a week. I hate speaking to professionals about myself, and identifying the clear goal of “not having those feelings” was far easier to fake, than to actually accomplish. Approval is a concept that I used to desire greatly, and the idea of being honest about not making the “goals” was far more painful than just learning to keep my mouth shut.
I am not on medication, and in the same way I treat my other health problems, I treat my depression on my own, through nutrition, exercise and meditation.
One of the most common arguments that I hear is that “Depression” is not real, it is just another version of “sadness.” This could not be further from the truth. Everyone experiences sadness. Not everyone experiences Depression. When I think of the differences, without using long scientific explanations, I try to define it like this: when a person is “sad” they can typically identify why they are sad. When a person is battling with depression, it is usually completely uncontrollable, there is no real “reason” for it, and the symptoms go far beyond just being “sad.”
Not everyone who suffers from depression has the same experience. I can’t speak for others, I can only document my own experience. I have good days, and I have bad days. The good days are the ones I am concerned the least about, because no one harms themselves when they are having a “good” day.
It is my bad days that scare me. The days where I lay in bed and wonder what the point is of getting up. The days where I wander through the motions of life and contemplate how to end it. I even have days where the mere concept of drawing another breath is so painful, that it seems so much easier just to stop; to stop breathing. Who would miss me? Work would replace me. My family would get over it, just as they always do. My boyfriend might for just a moment, but he would move on, and even better, he might find another woman who does not come with all the complications I have. Is it possible that there could be entire lengths of time: days, weeks, months, years even, where people would never even think of me? Wouldn’t that even be better for them?
This seems like a dark and scary moment, and it is. For those that don’t have, or have never had depression, this is what days and, sometimes, entire weeks of life are like. Times where all you can think is how much easier it would be if you weren’t there.
Not all days are like this. Sometimes, I’ll go weeks without having a day like this. They never truly go away though.
When I was a little girl, I used to spend a week of my summer on the Puget Sound in Washington. I would spend hours every day sitting by the bank and watching the tide go in an out.
When the tide was in, the water would be so clear that you could see the fish, the seaweed, the barnacles, and sometimes, even the bank below the water. When the tide was in, the children could go swimming, or play with the small paddle boats. It was the time for activity.
When the tide was out, there was dry, rocky beach that stretched as far as the eye could see. The only fun thing to do here was to chase little crabs around, and possible pick up seashells. You had to wear shoes, and real clothes, and most of the fun of the beach was taken away. The ground was rough, sharp and slippery and it was incredibly easy to fall and get hurt. There were dangers around every step, it seemed, and the beach became no fun to be on. It was barren, ugly and dangerous.
My days are just like that tide. Sometimes, the tide is in, and living is easy. There is the refreshing feeling of life, and the freedom to move, daily activities are exciting and there is joy.
However, sometimes, the tide goes out. Life is barren, so little to look forward to, and the constant fear that any moment, you could fall, and hurt yourself. Dry, rocky days that seem to last forever, with no sign of the tide ever coming back in.
When I wake up in the morning and start my day, I often take a moment and comment on whether my tide is in or out. It helps me prepare for the everyday, and be ready for how to handle it.
In September, I listened to and episode of the Joe Rogan Experience. He was interviewing Jane McGonigal, the author of Superbetter. In this podcast, she discussed living life with anxiety, and how she has learned to handle it as though she were in a game.
The book is incredible and offers great insight into handling every day as though it were a level in a video game, with goals, tasks and power ups. Each task that is completed gives a new goal to people living in this condition. I highly recommend it.
After listening to the podcast, I created my own system of checks and balances. I recognized my risk factors, and what helps pull me out of it.
Just recently, while doing research, I realized that there is an app for this book as well. It is a daily guide of keeping track of power ups, bad guys and goals. It has been a great help in dealing with days when my tide is out, and I highly recommend it to anyone struggling with depression or anxiety.
Help is out there, and as a reminder, the tide will always come back in.