I am depressed. I said this out loud to myself sometime in 2014. I had experienced low mood, lack of interest, crying spells and other such symptoms many times in the past. However, never had I ever before said these words; to myself or anyone else.
Being a medical doctor myself, I immediately knew that I needed help. I had multiple options. I could go for pharmacotherapy or psychotherapy. I could afford to take off from work for a short while. I could attempt to get better.
I had always been a loud, rambunctious kid. In parties, I danced like no one is watching. I grew up without too many inhibitions or a sense of shyness. I could walk up to people and speak my mind. This person suddenly retreated into a shell. This person suddenly was unable to function as well as before. No doubt was this difficult for me, the person, but it was unfathomable to most of my friends and family. I was told to be strong. I was asked why I was depressed. I was told that I should think positively. It speaks volumes about the state of mental health awareness that these were the reactions I was faced with. I am no one to judge. I too had probably said similar things in my naivete.
Misplaced yet well-intentioned advice apart, the one thing I did receive is love.
When I cried, my battered soul was enveloped in bone-crushing hugs. When I faltered, I had someone to steady me. When I lost the will to live, someone else gave me the will. I received love through calls, messages and gifts. I received the love in the form of understanding. I have been one of those privileged folks who has a support system.
Then why do I feel alone? I have spent hours trying to decipher this feeling, hours of introspection and hours of therapy. The answer always seemed elusive. I wondered whether other depressed folks felt this way.
I tried googling “depression and difficulty in experiencing love”. Google definitely failed me. It was during a session of therapy that the answer came from within me.
Depression makes you believe you are inconsequential. It makes you believe that your absence won't actually cause any difference to this universe or to your family and friends. It makes you believe and rightly so, that in the larger scheme of things, YOU DON’T MATTER. You try saying this to your loved ones and they scramble to find words to reassure you of your worth in their lives. They tell you that you are irreplaceable. You nod along even as you smile inside your head! You nod along to reassure them that you are suitably reassured.
You feel their love and yet you don’t feel a thing.
You cherish their love and yet you are lonely with your thoughts.
Such is the illness. Such is the life of those living with depression.
I hope that those of you out there who live with depression, know that you aren’t alone.
I hope that our loved ones will understand us, a little better. It is not you, it is not me. It is the disease and we fight to live another day.