Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Depression: It Is What It Is...

I've been wanting to write this for a while. Sometimes I get the feeling that people don't understand what it is to be depressed. I can empathise. It's a strange disease, one which is often misrepresented, one which people don't like to talk about and one which has so many myths associated with it.

I want to give my take on it.

When it's bad, it's bad. But throughout it all I am forever grateful for my life. Depression doesn't mean that I walk around in a permanent funk. I'm not an emo. I don't think the world is going to end, or that everything is bad and going to turn out wrong. I often think that my life at that moment is bad. At that particular moment, in those hours when all I can do is beg for it to end. When it's really bad I find it hard to believe that it will better, even though I know it will. But I'm never not grateful. I have had a wonderful life. I've had so many opportunities and I am blessed. I've never doubted that. I'll never doubt that. In a way knowing that makes it harder, because I feel guilty for feeling the way I do given the life that I've had.

But it is what it is.

Depression isn't just something you can shake yourself out of. I wish it was. I hate the person that I've become, and the way which I collapse and fall. I want nothing more than to have a switch, or a button, or something, anything that I could do to turn it all off. To push away the black and be "normal" again, whatever normal is. But I can't. That's not what it's like. And as hard as it is to admit, I wouldn't be me without all the darkness, and everything associated with the depression which I've been through.

Depression doesn't mean that I'm sad. Again, I'm not an emo. Yeah, I'm sad, but I'm not. I know that doesn't make sense, and I haven't managed to find a way to express it properly. It's like...it's like everything has been tainted black, like I'm seeing the world through an old style camera. Like there's a man holding a net over my head through which I can see the sun, and appreciate the sun, but the light of the sun won't pass the mesh of the net. It just...hangs there. And without the sun all the bad things inside which have taken root grow, and out of it comes this horrific beast which spills a darkness toxin, a dark-toxin into my blood...it sounds stupid. That metaphor sounds stupid. There aren't words to properly express what it is I'm trying to say. A better writer could. Better writers have. But for me...depression is a darkness which stops me from feeling.

It is what it is.

There isn't a reason I feel what I do. Yeah, there have been events in my past which may or may not have precipitated what I feel now. And yeah, sometimes things can happen in my day to day life which may push me into that direction and trigger a response. But subconsciously I know that all those things are trivial, that they shouldn't make me feel that way, that they don't deserve this response. It isn't even subconscious. It's a conscious thought. But inside, deep inside, something happens and chemicals start flowing and before long I'm drowning. And when that happens it's so, so hard to pull myself out. I can be perfectly at peace with a triggering event, I can have dealt (countless times) with the things in my past but I can't stop the dark. When it comes it's...the Greek army marching on Troy. The Romans attacking the Celts. Cancer once it's got into the bloodstream. Despite your defences it still comes.

It is what it is.

Somebody once tweeted and said, "Have you ever been happy?" Yes. Of course. You should see me on a normal day. I'm lovely :p I'm a strong, independent young lady who is great in a crisis and deals well with other people's problems (and even her own problems, believe it or not) and knows how to work through things so they become sorted out. I laugh. Loudly and often. I grin like a little child. My life makes me smile. I'm happy. And yet.

And yet.

It is what it is.

I know this may not make sense. It doesn't even make sense to me. But when people say "just be happy" or "just be grateful" or "be more positive" - all of which have been said to me - they don't mean anything because it isn't like that. It has never been like that.

I'm sorry.

And so a quote, from JK Rowling. I came across this recently and it goes a long way to explaining what it is I've been trying to convey:

“Depression is the most unpleasant thing I have ever experienced. . . . It is that absence of being able to envisage that you will ever be cheerful again. The absence of hope. That very deadened feeling, which is so very different from feeling sad. Sad hurts but it's a healthy feeling. It is a necessary thing to feel. Depression is very different.”



  1. I always loved the way JK described her depression, because it's a really important distinction to make between that and being sad. I so get this post, and you're right, it doesn't make logical sense, but that doesn't mean it's like...invalidated?

    Your last post kinda freaked me out - not in a recoiling way, but in an omg compassion way. I think I had a lot of trouble with kind of, accepting that depression isn't a consistent, constant mood, like you said, you don't walk around hating the world and acting like an emo all day. You do laugh, and have a good time, and have many and frequent happy moments, and you are so so grateful (it's almost like feeling so low makes you more grateful, if anything), but I think some people have this perception that if you have the audacity to call yourself "depressed" (weak, to some) then you should act like that all the time, and sometimes I felt guilty if I was caught being happy, and as though people thought, oh, she's better now! It's SO not like that.

    I think it's just written into some people's nature, and it is always there, and things trigger it off, and you have exaggerated responses to things (in comparison to 'normal' responses). I reckon accepting it as part of you and not necessarily a bad part either (I wouldn't take it back) is a good step in being able to kind of ride the sine graph waves, y'know? And not being apologetic about it, not feeling guilty.

    At the end of the day, you are your strongest ally, and it's really hard to be in opposition with yourself. Yet again, what a surprise, I don't really know where I'm going with this, but your posts always provoke a response in me, even if it is totally garbled!

    But I think your saying "It is what it is" sums it up beautifully.

    1. I think you're right *sad smile*

      Garble away Rosie, I love your comments :)

      Hope you're well x

  2. Great post :) It's important to know about you on the good days, puts it into perspective- and I think you expressed it really well. I wanted to say loads about it but Rosie's comment was far better articulated, so I shall just second her. And damn JK's way with words!

    You're doing great, man :) It's nice to see you come back up every time you've been down (slight understatement), I'm sure it's the hardest thing to do, but you keep managing it, and that's something to be admired.

    1. Thanks Humaira. It's weird, loads of people keep saying that, that they admire me for carrying on and coming back up. I don't see it personally but it does mean a lot that people think that. x

  3. Lol, that's a good point, suppose from your point of view, it's not that big a thing. But it is! Take your victories where you can find them :P

  4. Aren't you going to be a horrendous doctor though? Having not even recovered yet? I agree with the points you make about depression itself, so kudos for that, but I'm quite surprised you're in medicine...

    1. Hi Anonymous. Having depression won't make me a terrible doctor. If I ever thought that I was so ill I would be a danger to patients I would take time out but on a day to day basis that isn't the case. It's amazing the masks you learn to wear so it won't interfere with communication. It won't interfere with decision making. I still know everything I need to know. It doesn't follow that having depression would mean I would be a bad doctor. Having diabetes or asthma wouldn't lead to me being a bad doctor. If anything having depression would help in practicing medicine because it has meant I am more in tune with myself, and more empathetic towards others because of my experiences. Plus it's given me an insight into what it's like being treated as a patient, and that can go a long way.


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