I am completely open about my illness. It is a part of me and, much as I would rather it were otherwise, it has played a major part in making me the person I am. It is such an ingrained part of me that I cannot even begin to imagine what life without it would be like. It never lets me forget. Even in those periods where I have the illusion of having it under some sort of control, when I am free from the worst symptoms, it is always there, lurking in the background, reminding me that it can return, without any warning at a time of its choosing.
Life is a daily battle. It’s a battle where the only “victory” to be had is to stave off total surrender and defeat. I know it’s a battle I can never win; the very best I can hope for is some soul-sapping rear-guard action – retreat, regroup, then retreat again.
It is tiring. Not just a physical tiredness, but an emotional tiredness, a spiritual tiredness; a tiredness that burrows its way into your very core.
There is no escape, nowhere to hide. There can be no hiding from your own mind. You are battling an enemy that knows everything about you, that knows your every weakness and how to exploit them. It’s an enemy that intimately knows every flaw in your character and can use them against you.
The darkness is real. You turn away from those who care about you because you are a burden and they deserve better than to have to put up with you.
At its worst, it is all-consuming; it’s not that you have depression, it is that you ARE depressed – depression has you. It becomes a whole body illness; physical as well as mental.
In my case, I find it hard to sleep, I lose my appetite, I lose my libido, I suffer headaches. In the worst cases, it has been known to manifest itself by giving me dental abscesses and then there are the violent tremors that afflict my right arm.
When the tsunami of depression hits, there is nothing really that can be done other than just go where it takes you. Trying to defy it is futile. Fighting it simply wears you down faster.
And that’s where I am just now. I am in the darkness. I am still falling. Getting to the end of each day doesn’t even feel like a win, it is just a statement of the fact that I am still here, and tomorrow the onslaught will begin again.
Every day, every hour, every moment is a battle in this on-going civil war of attrition inside my mind.
Respite is scarce. There is nowhere to hide from yourself.