Depression the Dark Suitor (revisited) National Mental Health Month

This is on older piece that was written a week after learning that a lovely woman that I went to college with had lost her the 13 year old son to suicide.  It was heart- breaking news then and still haunts me.


My thoughts turned to Depression on my commute into work today. It has been weighing heavily upon my mind for the last few months, and more acutely the last week. Depression and I are old acquaintances. We have met many times over the years, both personally and professionally. The first time was when I was twelve—Depression does not discriminate based on age.

I have always pictured Depression as a dark mist. It twirls around your ankles when you are vulnerable and under stress, waiting for an opening to seep into your pores. It can be even more patient and insidious, and start to shadow you when things in your life are fine, when your guard is down, biding its time and sinking in so slowly that you almost don’t recognize its presence until you are going under.

Depression sometimes looks innocent when it first arrives. Like an old friend who wants to hang out in pajamas, watch TV, share pints of ice cream and drink wine while you catch up and take a break from your hectic life. It can feel like an old comfortable quilt, or the lure of a warm bed on a dark, cold morning. But it rarely stays so friendly.

Depression starts to spread its dark tendrils deeper and deeper into your soul and whispers lies and distorted truths. It tells you that you are worthless, that you have no friends, that no one loves you. As it takes deeper hold of you, it starts to tell you darker lies—that everything is your fault, that everyone around you would be better off without you and that your pain will never cease. You start to feel like you have entered purgatory on earth. Colors wash out, food doesn’t taste as good, nothing gives you pleasure and the only relief is sleep.

Depression is a jealous beast, like an abusive lover. It isolates you from friends and family. Lures you away from the activities you usually enjoy, from food, from sleep. It wants to be your main squeeze and draws all of your mental and physical energy inwards. Eventually the primary dialogue in your life is between you and Depression. It does not want you to spend time with others who might make you laugh, who might mention a book or a concert that diverts your attention for a moment, or who might encourage you to see a therapist or a doctor.

I have danced with Depression many times over, but with the help of time, family and friends, exercise, sunshine, good therapists and at times medication, I have fought my way back to a place where colors are vivid, food tastes good, and I can take pleasure in things and enjoy rich satisfying relationships with others and, more importantly, with myself. It is not easy to shake off Depression’s strangling embrace but experience has taught me that if I had given up and given in to the pain when Depression wanted me to, I would have never experienced all the moments of joy and wonder that I have had in my life. It gets better but it is a journey.
Depression is a very persistent suitor. Constant  vigilance  is necessary where my old acquaintance is concerned. Learning to recognize when the dark mist has started to move in and learning ask for help before Depression moves its icy hand from my shoulder and into my soul is a skill I continue to develop. I haven’t won the war yet, but at least I finally understand the battle I am fighting and how high the stakes are.

 

77 thoughts on “Depression the Dark Suitor (revisited) National Mental Health Month

  1. You are very brave (and definitely not reckless) to share your experience with Depression! More power to you! It’s a beautiful and poignant post. It describes Depression as well as I understand it. Being in the field of Psychiatry, I am keen to understand ‘it’ as well as I can.
    Allie Brosh is another blogger/author who wrote poignantly about her own travails with Depression (at Hyperbole and a Half.blogspot). And she manages to make us laugh out loud too! God bless her.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Indeed! Thank you for adding to this important conversation so as to help the rest of us that fight depression, for ourselves or a loved one, can feel less alone in the world and thus better equipped for our next battle in this ongoing war.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Having myself suffered the presence of this insistent companion for what seems my entire life, not once during that time have I read something that desrcibes it so simply and accurately. Like taken out of a page of my journal if I’d had the ability to grasp and string words together to create a comprehendable image of it the way you have. Very profound and I am again so thankful I found you earlier today and followed you. Thank you for re-posting this.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Great post… I’m really drawn to the sentence “if I had given up and given in to the pain when Depression wanted me to, I would have never experienced all the moments of joy and wonder.” That profound statement is something I need to remember ❤

    Liked by 5 people

      1. Yes! I just saw it and I’m super excited, surprised and very thankful… after reading the first few of the top 10 posts (which were amazing), I didn’t think I had a chance. Smiling face for me today. Thank you 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I haven’t been depressed but I have suffered from extreme anxiety and manic psychosis. Your words are helping people and that is an important thing. I have written a few posts about mental illness, should you care to take a look. I am on medication now and it is one of the best things I have ever done. Lithium is a wonder drug for me. Works, well, wonders. Thanks again.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I love that this post addresses how easily depression can slip into any of our lives. Your personification of the dangerous mental illness raises awareness in my own life. It makes me ensure that one of two lazy days don’t turn into months or years. Thank you for sharing this eye opening depiction of depression.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. As someone who has witnessed depression from the outside, I read these accounts and try to find ways to remind my depressed friend that there is a light.
    Depression has so many more tools in this battle than me.
    Thank you for sharing.

    I always describe it as the third person in the relationship.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. I have a longer piece I have written, novel length. Through that writing process I was able to see firsthand the pull the disease had on him.

        I have been debating reworking that to highlight the Black Dog or “Depression” as the narrator. Specifically written in third person.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Yes! I would love that. It is currently 100k words of letters and notes and narratives. Changing POV in a completed work is HARD! I’m still planning how to overlay the “new” character without stripping the depth of the existing characters.

        The beta readers who have finished it in the current form know the subjects.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I like raw and honest. And it seems like most are that…the sheer volume is overwhelming.

        I find every word I read makes my own writing stronger.

        Obviously people in similar situations – on the outside of MDD…or those working through it.

        I’m keeping my distance from politics. I have enough of that on Facebook.

        Liked by 3 people

  8. This sums up depression so well! A post hasn’t resonated this much with me in a while. These are all my experiences with it that I don’t yet have the words or bravery to express. Thank you for sharing these powerful words. 🙂 p.s. the strength you have in sharing this publicly has already made you victorious

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Thank you so much for sharing this. I’ve suffered with depression for much of my life, and have always struggled to put into words what it can feel like and do. Lovely to read your words – they ring very true to my experience. We are not alone.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. This vivid photograph of a very troubling problem is amazing, Christine. You’ve depicted it in such a way that others might understand a little about the feelings involved. So well done.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. This is the best description of depression I have read. You almost make it human, something I detest. When I have been in a deep depression and pulled myself inward, I somehow feel safe. Safe from having to deal with the pain for a while. I describe it as being in a barrel, curled up, watching the world go by. It can be warm and comforting in my barrel, yet I won’t acknowledge the destruction.
    I love the way you describe depression as coming in softly and enticing you inward and taking control. Great writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I just back-linked this piece as related content to a first-person of my own [When Depression Comes Knocking]. Well done. (Got here from Chuck’s reblog, btw).
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Wow! You have described Depression sooooo well!!!!! I absolutely loved your post! Thanks for sharing! I also battle with Depression and agree the topic needs to get out there and the conversations started!!! Again, thank you for sharing! xx

    Liked by 1 person

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