Less than six hours ago, I wanted it all to end. I just wanted to escape. Everything felt too much, all too-consuming and draining. There didn’t seem a point to anything, nothing at all. Time kept ticking by but the feeling wasn’t easing. It was unrelenting and I was firmly in its grasp. I had to take the day off work due to being ill with the flu but couldn’t enjoy having a day off; instead I was swamped with guilt. I knew I wasn’t well enough to go in, yet berated myself for this ‘weakness’. I knew I wasn’t well enough to mark the 30 essays sitting on the other side of my room, yet taunted myself with my ineptitude.
Depression seems to open up the caverns within the mind – causing worries to escalate, thoughts to get entangled and anxiety to overwhelming everything. I couldn’t process the fact that I was ill, something which everyone gets, and that not being able to be my normal productive-self did not make me a failure of a human being. I can see that now I’m not under its control. I couldn’t see that less than six hours ago.
I worried about money and never escaping my various debts. These worries grew and grew into ludicrous-shaped envisionings of my future, what was the point of anything? I was a burden on society and my friends, no-one truly loved me – how could they? They be much better if I wasn’t here. The world would keep on turning, their lives would keep on being lived – most likely more easily without my existence. I saw myself as a broken mess, not fit for purpose and a waste of oxygen – no wonder I was single, I was an unloveable freak who was unworthy of a relationship.
My thoughts then turned on what would happen if I did end everything. How family would react. How I could cause depression in the lives of friends, family and those who knew me if I were to do it. This felt monumental enough to not give in. I tried to distract myself with watching a film. That didn’t work, a true indicator of how low I was feeling.
I then worked up the nerve to try something that seemed drastic. I picked up my copy of Matt Haig’s Reasons To Stay Alive for a re-read, all-too aware of how intense reading it would be and frightened by how close to home those words would be.
It worked as a sort of life-raft, pulling me out from under the fog.
The book has so many passages I want to impart upon you, so much so that I implore you to read it if you have any experience of depression & anxiety either your own or those you love. The words that lingered with me today are “I hate depression. I am scared of it. Terrified, in fact. But at the same time, it has made me who I am. And if – for me – it is the price of feeling life, it’s a price always worth paying. I am satisfied just to be.”
I re-read the book in one sitting. I tweeted Matt Haig to thank him for the book). I then watched a film. I then drank a cup of tea whilst talking to my housemate. I texted a few friends who were checking I was okay. I had some dinner and ate some amazing grapes. Now I write this, for myself and hopefully to help others. They’re baby steps in the long term, but they’re huge leaps compared to how I felt earlier today. In fact it feels somewhat ludicrous to have felt so awful almost six hours ago. Feeling such depths of darkness allows me to appreciate the good things that get easily forgotten when the going is okay.
The book didn’t ‘fix’ me and I’m all-too aware that I could feel the same awfulness sometime in the near future. But reading the book reminded me that I wasn’t alone, that how I feeling wasn’t unique and nor was it my fault. I don’t chose to feel depressed and I certainly don’t get to choose when it kicks in. But I’m trying, truly truly trying, to view its unwelcome and uninvited visits with a degree of hope – when the feeling leaves I get to appreciate everything in my life with that bit more intensity and thanks. I also get to feel thanks that the feeling does actually leave, often it feels so impossible that I’ll feel another way.
The brightest lights are accompanied by the darkest shadows. Eating amazing grapes whilst wearing your favourite Star Wars pyjamas may not be everyone’s idea of their life’s brightest lights – but right now I couldn’t be more thankful that is what I’m currently doing.
Thanks, as always, for reading.