It isn’t easy for me to express how I feel on a good day. Being in the midst of a depressive episode makes it 10 times more difficult. When I find words from others that I strongly relate to, I like to share it, because I feel like it does a better job of explaining my own feelings than I can. I also hope that it will help others understand what I’m going through.
I read this article on The Mighty this morning, and wanted to share it, for that exact reason.
Yes, I was doing okay for a little while, until about 6 months ago when I slowly began to slip into the most severe depressive episode I’ve ever experienced. It took a couple months to even realize it was happening. There was no trigger. There’s no reason for why I’m depressed right now, I just am. The fact is, there is a chemical imbalance in my brain and the meds I was on for a year and a half stopped working. It is likely there was a drastic change in my brain chemistry that caused the particular antidepressant I was on to no longer be useful for me.
“Depression doesn’t feel like sadness per se, but more of an emptiness, like instead of being able to feel 100 percent of emotions you can only feel 50 percent. The [other] half just doesn’t exist anymore. You can still feel happy/sad/frustrated/excited, but not to as full a capacity as normal.”
In addition, I also had a side effect at higher doses that made it very difficult for me to function on a daily basis, even though I had been feeling ok, emotionally, so increasing my dose, even temporarily, was not an option I was willing to consider.
Over the past 6 months, at my lowest, I couldn’t go 5 minutes without thinking about suicide, no matter what was happening around me. I could be surrounded by family or coworkers laughing and joking and I would sit there, feeling alone, surrounded by people, wishing I didn’t exist. Driving home from work each day was a tear filled 20 minutes where I imagined myself driving of the road and smashing my car, multiple times.
It took an enormous amount of energy just to get up and shower every morning, but the only reason I did was because I didn’t want to admit to anyone that I was struggling. I didn’t want the attention. So I went on auto-pilot.
“Just because I’m feeling this way doesn’t mean I’m worthless or lazy or slacking; it just means doing what I do each day takes a lot more effort than usual.”
Depression basically sucks the life out of you. It takes away not only your happiness, but your passion, motivation, and energy. I was constantly exhausted, both physically and emotionally. I can’t even begin to describe the feeling of exhaustion caused by severe depression. It’s like nothing else. Being exhausted from intense activity or whatever, doesn’t even begin to compare to the exhaustion felt in every millimetre of your body and mind because of depression.
I could barely concentrate on anything. I wasn’t even making it to a full 8 hours each day at work. I would barely eat anything all day. It took enormous effort just to find the motivation to eat. And when I did eat, it didn’t matter what I ate, it all tasted the same.
When I watched my favourite TV shows, I couldn’t focus for long enough to follow what was going on. I wouldn’t laugh at things I knew were funny. The sad things just didn’t get to me the way they normally do.
I became obsessed with suicide. I started reading a lot of suicide stories online. I don’t entirely know why I was doing it so obsessively, but I never seemed to get what I was looking for out of them. And the stories with happy endings just didn’t resonate with me the way they used to. Even though I could relate to the feelings these people were writing about, I didn’t feel it. Normally, reading stuff like that would trigger an emotional response in my body and mind, but it didn’t. That’s when I began to become aware of the emptiness.
One night, in September, all of this came to a climax. When I didn’t think I could get any lower, I did. I wanted to die so badly, but didn’t know how to do it. I cried for hours upon hours, in bed, just trying to fall asleep, praying for it to be over. I knew I probably should have woken my parents up and asked them to take me to the hospital, but I just couldn’t do it. I decided that if it wasn’t gone by morning I would go to the hospital.
Have I ever mentioned how talented I am when it comes to procrastination and convincing myself it’s not that bad?
That moment of procrastination was probably the worst possible thing I could have done. I was still too terrified to tell anyone and because I felt just a tiny bit better the next day, I did nothing. Nothing. I felt physically ill because I had taken several Tylenol Cold nighttime pills in an unsuccessful attempt to fall asleep, also hoping that maybe it would interact with the newer antidepressant I was talking and possibly do more than simply knock me out, which of course didn’t work. It took several hours after taking those pills for me to actually fall asleep.
I kept considering going to the hospital for the next few weeks, but couldn’t bring myself to do it because I never quite reached that same point again, even to this day.
I’ve stopped and started three antidepressants since August. I’ve just started taking what is now my 6th antidepressant in the past two years.
I definitely feel quite a bit better than I did in September, but I am still having a hard time. I may be through the worst of it, but I’m not on the other side of it yet.
My work has been extremely supportive, since I opened up about it. I’m currently working 5 hours a day instead of 8, but that is flexible. They know some days will be better than others and I might be able to work more. They know some days will be worse and I might not be able to work at all. They have made me feel valued and keep reminding me that they don’t want to lose me, and that is incredibly encouraging for me, especially given what happened with my last job.
I’ve also been told, by multiple people, that I am very good at hiding my depression and anxiety. I’m not intentionally trying to hide it. It just seems to be my body’s natural instinct. I don’t know how else to explain it. I’ve been hoping, for months, that someone would notice and ask me about it so I wouldn’t need to bring it up myself.
“If you ever have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. I have a lot of friends with limited experience with people who have a mental illness, and being open to learning is a huge step into ending the stigmas associated with it.”
Seriously, I’m not afraid to talk about my issues if you ask! I may not have the right words to explain it in a way I feel is fully accurate, but I’ll try. I’m scared to bring it up because of responses I’ve had in the past. People often feel uncomfortable, which makes me uncomfortable. But the stigma needs to end, and the only way that can happen is if people ask questions and learn how depression, and other mental illnesses, effect those who have them.