The silent killer.
It’s like having a dark, heavy rain cloud above your head at all times. It’s always a storm, an ongoing storm that never stops raining. Sometimes there is thunder. Sometimes there is lightning. Sometimes there is both, but the rainfall never stops.
It is painful. More painful than physical pain that requires you to take opiates to alleviate it. Except there is no “pain killer” for depression. More painful than I can even begin to explain. And that’s because depression doesn’t “look” a certain way. Everyone experiences it differently and they appear ‘normal’ a lot of the time. It is also hard to recognize, accept and treat if the person is treatment resistant either by choice or not.
There are many people with depression whom you would never guess struggle with a mental illness. That is because emotionally and mentally they tend to isolate, avoid and hide their struggles by separating from their friends and loved ones. They become secluded, hopeless, angry, have uncontrollable crying spells, decrease/increase in sleeping habits, increased or decreased appetite, suicidal thoughts and even suicidal behavior such as cutting, overdosing and drugs and alcohol. These habits can be hard to recognize by outsiders and become easier to hide by the one whom is battling depression.
Because depression presents itself differently in everyone, it can be hard to identify and treat. The individual usually needs to be pretty aware of themselves to identify they are struggling with a mental illness. Some aren’t even aware of their character and personality fully so depression can go undiagnosed for years. Generally speaking, depression tends to rear its ugly head between 18-25 as a first episode but some may experience it much younger or older. However, the prime years are right around when a young adult enters college or the work force. The appearance of depression can be life altering. Life changing. Life stopping. It’s almost as if someone applies the emergency brake with no release. It hurts.
It has taken me years to be able to speak openly about my struggle with depression. I recently learned that I struggle with bipolar depression which is noticeably different from unipolar depression, but can appear quite similar.
‘The journey tab’ goes into fine details about my mental illness struggles, but for a brief summary, my struggle with depression began at age 20, from what I know. Symptoms likely were present throughout my life, however it is triggered by particular events.
My life changed dramatically. I had never felt such intense emotions. Sadness, deep sadness that made my physical heart hurt, lethargy, sleeplessness, anxiety, weight loss, anhedonia, catatonia, crying spells and the worst—suicidal ideation. The suicidal thoughts hit me and I couldn’t shake them. Everything I thought of was how I could plan my death so that no one would see me or find out my thoughts, but I hoped for it to be over before the end of each waking day. I tried many ways of suicide but always with the desire to fight to stay alive. My brain and emotions told me I wanted to be dead, but my heart just wanted a way out. I just wanted to be free. Free of pain. Free of hiding. Free of faking it.
Faking it had always been my problem. I was so good at faking happiness. I was always that person who had a big smile on no matter what was going on inside. No one knew what I truly felt or what I was considering. Suicide is so taboo. I was looked down upon. Shunned by some family and friends for such a selfish decision. Let me just say suicide is not a selfish desire, it is the ultimate desire for help and freedom. If you know anyone or are someone who has struggled with suicidal ideation or behavior you know how much the person doesn’t want to feel the way they do and how much of a burden they think they are. Depression tells us this.
Depression lies. But we suffer because we believe the lies. I believed them so much that I ended up in psychiatric hospitals five times in my life thus far. 30 something medications later. Several suicide attempts and years of hurting, I finally am at bay with my depression. Don’t get me wrong, I still struggle and the pain doesn’t dissipate, but the intensity no longer takes over my life. There are some days I can’t get out of bed, but I don’t allow that dark cloud to linger especially when those suicidal thoughts come back. I’ve learned to fight. I’ve learned to overcome. And I have been successful for the first time in years.
Three major depressions in my 27 years thus far, but the victory is timeless. Depression is a struggle I don’t wish upon anyone nor do I wish away anymore. It’s made me such a strong personally mentally and emotionally. I’ve learned the tools and techniques to desperately funny. In the deepest despair, I now have some of the strongest tools to fight back giving me a fighting chance to stand up to depression.
It is not easy. It doesn’t get easier. But it does get better. Hope comes back. Tears wipe away. And happiness returns. But the process is long, daunting, and painful that sadly some people don’t get a second chance after attempting suicide. Research says that men are generally more likely to attempt suicide and succeed as they use lethal methods whereas women attempt it but often are saved.
If you have experienced depression or know someone who has, love on them. Ask how you can help and research advice on how to support a loved one. Seek a therapist and a psychiatrist. Sometimes medications AND therapy are necessary for the best results. But remember to care for yourself. Caring for someone with a mental illness, especially depression, can be exhausting emotionally and mentally. Also, you can become stuck under their rain cloud and lose your way. Be sure to have your own support system to stay strong and healthy.
The worst thing one can do is isolate! If you or a loved one is isolating it is time to get help! Speak up, speak out or find someone you trust and allow them to help. So much harder said than done, trust me but all is possible. I know it. I’m a standing, living, and breathing example of what life after depression and suicide attempts looks like. It’s not bliss every day nor is it easy, but I’m so so blessed to be alive and well. Thank you God 💗 I have such amazing friends and family who I don’t know where I’d be without them all!