The sky, an unusually beautiful deep robin’s egg blue…grey. The scarlet roses in the garden that usually gave her so much joy and affirmation…grey. The pink-cheeked family that shared a fondness for laughter and loved her silliness…grey. The home that wrapped her in a yellow glow of warmth felt cold and grey. Her job with people who relied on her fiery red passion and the calming green hued wisdom…all grey. There was no escaping this dull hum of greyness. Of nothingness.
The absolute emptiness was palpable.
“You are so blessed!” They said. True.
“You have everything you could ever need!” They said. Yes, you’re right.
“Just smile!” They exclaimed. Ok.
“Wow! Look at you! You’ve really slimmed down! What’s your secret?” They complimented. Ummm…not sure really. I don’t feel like eating, I guess?
“Looks like you’re gaining a little weight there, honey.” They warned. Yes. I can feel it. I can’t seem to get enough lately.
“You sleeping okay? You look so tired lately!” They inquired. No. I’m having some trouble sleeping. It’ll be better tonight I bet.
“What’s wrong with you? You are healthy, you have a family, a great job, people who love you!” They shouted. Absolutely. I do. You’re right.
“What is it NOW?” They demanded. I don’t know. Nothing maybe. I’m just tired.
“Snap out of it!” They yelled. Ok. You’re right. I will try.
“We all get depressed once in a while, shake it off!” They advised. Right. Of course. I’ll do that.
“We’re sick and tired of you just sitting there doing nothing to help yourself!” They observed. Ok. Me too.
“Just go talk to somebody”. They suggested. You’re right. I’ll do that.
“Enough with the pity party already!” They warned. You’re right. I’m just feeling sorry for myself. Again.
“You are so selfish! It’s not always about you!” They spat. Yes. I know. I agree.
“Stop crying! You’re just being manipulative…crocodile tears…cut it out!” They pleaded. I’m sorry. I’m trying to stop.
APATHY. Sadness. Crying jags. Loneliness. Isolation. Irreversible words. Anger. Self-blame. Guilt. Shame. Embarrassment. Hatred. Self-deprecation. Suicidal thoughts. Self-mutilation. Despair. Loss. Inner chaos. Train wreck. Emotional death. Weight gain. Weight loss. Failure.The abyss.
Pain – Everywhere…anywhere…anytime.
WHAT-IS-WRONG-WITH-ME? She finally asked the mirror through mascara stained tears.
I-don’t-know. Came the weak response, I really don’t know.
Depression. It hurts everyone. It has no boundaries. It knows no class or socioeconomics status. It doesn’t care what race you are or about your religion or what your bias’ might be. How good your story is will not be judged. Everyone is welcome. You could be a blonde, black, brunette, auburn or gray haired man or woman. You might be short or tall, have light or dark skin. Highest one percent income or lowest…smart or dull…and everything in-between.
You might be able to disguise it better with nice clothes or makeup or jewelry, or purchasing things, or using drugs or gambling or karaoke, by dancing until you are ready to puke or being the funniest person in the room; but eventually it catches up no matter your efforts to mask or escape from it. When the clubs go dark and the people go home and the booze runs out there is only one being left to answer to. Yourself.
Go ahead and deny it, it chuckles way back there in the recesses of your mind, I’ve got your number!
It is the bounty hunter of a genetically predestined, traumatized and/or serotonin depleted brain. It lies in wait for the right moment when it might show itself by hijacking your thoughts and actions and wringing out any semblance of joy from your senses. It is heavy like a Mack truck that rams you in the chest while you’re turning to look in the other direction before walking across the street. There is no way out, it seems, from its talon-like grips.
Depression is a tricky character. It is sneaky and always lurking. It is an opportunist. It is a carnivore with a taste for the blood coursing through your veins until you give in at last out of sheer exhaustion. At this point you may also turn a ghastly shade of grey to blend with your world as you see it.
She begins to think that it would be a hell of a lot easier to have a heart attack or a broken hip. At least then people could try to sense the pain she goes through with each cycle of depression. At the very least she’d get flowers or a “get well” card. People appreciate the affliction which is concrete. A Band-Aid or a cast shows proof to people who are so quick to judge. Because she has nothing to show for this emotional turmoil and the ultimate in numbness with the grey decaying shell she sees and feels, she won’t get the help she needs. She will suffer in silence because people don’t believe in mental illness. She will continue to cut herself on the upper arm with lines as straight and narrow as she’d like to believe she is in order to see the blood and feel the pain that she cannot prove is real in her body and mind. She even questions herself at times. I probably just want attention like people are saying…maybe I am just lazy…I wouldn’t invite me either, I’m no fun….yeah, maybe it’s just my period…I’m just a mean person so I deserve this.
Depression will make you doubt yourself and your reality. You will question all your thoughts, words and deeds. You will wonder if you are crazy. You will look at others and wonder why it is that happiness escapes you somehow while the remainder of the world seems so well adjusted and satisfied. You thought you were normal. You thought life wasn’t supposed to be this hard; that it was just that you couldn’t keep up because you were somehow weak, flawed or unworthy.
NO ONE SHOULD HAVE TO WORK THAT HARD TO FEEL JOY OR HAPPINESS IN THEIR LIVES.
This isn’t just “her” problem. It’s OUR problem.
We all need to be walking EACH OTHER home.
Your Attention Please:
By 2020 depression will be the #2 leading contribution to the global burden of disease. (World Health Organization), save.org/
Major Depressive Disorder is the leading cause of disability in the United States for ages 15 to 44.3. It affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population aged 18 and over in a given year. This can develop at any age, however, the median age of onset is 32.5. It is more prevalent in women than in men. This is an estimate, as many individuals, particularly males, do not report and ultimately go undiagnosed and untreated. (adaa.org/about-adaa/…/facts-statistics).
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that occurs during the same season each year, usually in late fall or winter until early to late spring due to light changes in the environment. It’s prevalence in the U.S. ranges from 1.4 percent in Florida, to 9.7 percent in New Hampshire (Friedman, Richard A. (12/18/2007) “Brought on by Darkness, Disorder Needs Light”. New York Times.
For more information on depression or any other mood disorder seek information from reliable sources:
National Alliance of the Mentally Ill: NAMI.org
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance: dbsalliance.org/
Anxiety and Depression Association of America: adaa.org/
Centers for Disease Control: CDC.org
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education: SAVE.org
Freedom from Fear: Anxiety and Depression Resource Organization: freedomfromfear.org/
National Institute of Mental Health: nimh.nih.gov/