I feel like it’s impossible to write about this without sounding patronizing or preachy, but I just want to put this out there for anybody dealing with depression or suicidal thoughts, or people who know and interact with such people. This will sound cheesy, but, just hang in there.
Yes, I felt compelled to write this because of recent posts, but this isn’t aimed at anybody particular.
I dealt with depression personally for many years. A highschool friend of mine committed suicide. Another friend, and my father as well, live with manic-depression (or bi-polar disorder, if you prefer). Feeling lifeless, hopeless, sad and simultaneously painfully bored and overwhelmed have taken up large chunks of my life. There is no doubt that my progress through life has been held up by depression. I had to redo my senior year in highschool, because the first time through I didn’t make it, I didn’t know what depression was doing to me. I’ve had to take long breaks, when even little everyday things like brushing my teeth or shaving would overwhelm me and send me back to my room.
But I guess, here’s the point, the thing I wish had been explained to me earlier on, and which I wish my friends had known too: depression, like many disorders, runs in courses. For most people. I don’t know why this wasn’t mentioned to me right off the bat, maybe people don’t want to give you false hope that you might only be seriously depressed for a year or two, and then it will clear up, and probably come back again later, but maybe never come back again at all, in the event somebody spends a decade, maybe a lifetime with symptoms of depression (even though this is, as I understand it, not at all common).
After about three years of depression and one crazy breakdown, my moods began to lift. My various emotions were no longer all transmuted into sadness. I didn’t cry when I got mad. I didn’t cry when I was nervous. I didn’t cry when I was happy. I just felt without it all turning back into dread and tears. By the fourth year my mood had improved to a sort of “light melancholy” (or something sounding just as silly but along those lines according to the test). By the fifth, my capacity for having feelings was as good as it has been at any time since. But back to the point: When I talk about depression I make sure to bring up that for many people, it’s not a life-long affliction. That one experiences this in courses, and that usually, the first course is both the longest and most severe. That you, or your friend, is not “lost”, and that most likely a state of balance will return. Sure, that inability to feel happiness may return, and it may stay around for a very long while. But it is usually not permanent. I have, every couple of years it seems, a few months out of a year where I feel nearly as hopeless and incapable as I did back then, but, every time, it has eventually left me, and knowing this keeps me ready for the next time it happens.
A highschool friend of mine died a few months after I finally graduated. And it pains me so much, even now. I would give plenty to be able to go back and tell them what I found out a couple years later. That they would probably, like me, experience normalcy again. That despite how they felt then, their friends and family miss them. That we all miss him. And my pain is relating so well to how he felt back then, but knowing now how he could still be here, as I am, if he had stayed around. And I wish I could write about this less flippantly, and without sounding so cheesy, but honestly, even after all these years I just can’t dwell on it too long without feeling overwhelmed. Still.
So that turned into a bit of a ramble and a bit of a rant. But summing it up: remember depression is not a 100% constant over the lives of those living with it. Frequently, it comes and goes. Particularly if you’re still young, get through it the first time. It will likely come back, but at least then you know that it will also likely leave again.
I’m not a brain or mood scientist, obviously, but these are my experiences, and talking with others, I’ve found many have had similar ones. Hang in there, really.