The subject of depression is daunting.
As a writer, there’s too many ways that I could misrepresent it. I hesitate to claim that I understand it myself. I also think that it’s true that some people fane depression for attention or as an excuse for certain actions. After all, I write for an audience and if I didn’t think a topic was interesting enough, I wouldn’t publish it.
All considered, I find it ironic that ten years ago my idea of depression was solely based on those commercials of moms lying on the couch while they’re kids run around them. My understanding of it was limited: a prolonged sadness that one must avoid at all costs, so as not to become an ‘un fun person who lies on the couch all day’. Now it’s something quite different for me. But hey don’t get all pity like, this isn’t one of those whoa-is-me stories. It’s a reality check, year in review.
This month last year I was going on three weeks out of a breakup that just about tore my heart out, and my immediate solution was to seek attention from someone else. I messaged a guy from school for a few days…that didn’t work out. I went out with an older guy on tinder (twice), he bought me dinner… that didn’t work out. I had a bad kiss with a guy known for being a bit of a douche, who was also high…that didn’t work out. And then I made out with my best friend’s ex-boyfriend (I know, total violation of girl code) and some how that was the one that stuck. I did however lose the best friend in the process. Maybe not your idea of someone experiencing depression, but it was mine. I was spiralling and in the process, I launched a phase of stealing my parents liquor and day drinking.
On multiple occasions I snuck downstairs early to take a couple shots of whiskey before leaving to catch the bus, I even poured some in a water bottle once or twice and brought it with me. That was before I started dating the new guy but it didn’t end when he came into the picture either. Before we became official, I’d drink before I went to hangout with him. I only found out later that he could smell it on my breath and once almost vomited while we were making out. Not to mention somewhere in there, I was high at school for the first time. Only once though, because quite frankly it didn’t affect me as much as I wanted it to. And all this time, my grades were on a slow descent.
That little score is what ill call the drunk during the day phase, much of which nobody really knew about until now. Regardless I received my first intervention around that time. My friends showed up at my house one evening when I wasn’t there to tell my parents that they were worried about me. I was sending concerning text messages, appearing destructive. Should they have encountered my mom at the door, the situation might have resolved itself as anticipated but instead they found their selves in front of my well meaning but completely oblivious jock of a dad. He responded by yelling, as he does when he doesn’t know how else to act.
After that the summer was much more somber, the sadness had succumbed to love and I felt rather mended for a solid three months, albeit the occasional emotional breakdown, and increasing amounts of time spent sneaking out of the house.
Then there was the walking the line phase, treading carefully one foot in front of the other as I desperately tried to ignore the fact that my boyfriend of the time no longer loved me. I’d tried for so long to refuse that people could just stop loving each other. In the two weeks approaching the end of our relationship, I walked out half way through a lecture and headed straight for the train, ignoring the preceding calls from my class mates. I commuted to school from home that week, crying constantly in my mom’s bed and unable to do any kind of homework.
I’m sure now that what I felt next was a false sense of confidence. (Cue false sense of confidence phase). We’d broken up on mostly mutual terms and others guys were paying attention to me. I felt free and strong for being able to leave the relationship. Then he called me from another country just to talk, and messaged me a day later wanting to get back together. My initial grapple for strength was to say no but I found myself missing what we had a week later and called him back- of course by that time he too had changed his mind, and once again wasn’t interested in the relationship.
I surfed through the next while, ‘half sunken-coasting’ ill call it, through exams and the winter break and right through into the new year. I felt dull to it all and brought that same feeling into yet another new relationship. I was anxious, paranoid, and self conscious over nothing within the first two weeks. It didn’t feel like me. So it should be no surprise that the guy broke up with me after a month.
In all technicalities I was fine, though I cried more than I’d like to have. But we only dated for a month right? So why should I be so heartbroken, the dude was already making efforts to stay friends. Of course, I did make the mistake of maintaining some of that relationship instead of getting over it. Much like the last two break up experiences, I never really gave myself time to mend. Instead, I accepted the snuggling and the sex. First because who doesn’t like snuggling and sex? but then eventually because it was the only way that I knew how to feel close to anybody. Transition to the terribly alone phase, which I’ll admit I haven’t completely removed myself from. The friends with benefits stuff wasn’t detrimental at first because snuggling was something that made me feel okay and people to snuggle with aren’t just floating around, but eventually the snuggling stopped and it was just sex so I clung to what was left, which was eventually nothing.
Which brings me to now, having finally stopped seeking or clinging to relationships. No small victory for me I’ll tell ya. That being said, there was a point last year when I still wasn’t comfortable using the word depressed. It felt like a cop out to use it, as if it was a scapegoat for my sadness and everything else that I disliked about myself. The difference between then and now is essentially a stigma. I couldn’t use the word then because it scared me; it meant being the un fun mom who lies on the couch all day. Now I can talk about it openly and acknowledge exactly how real it is.