The term depression is often used in a way that diminishes its true meaning and impact. I’ve heard the phrase “Its so depressing” used in reference to parking spaces, clothing sizes, or the cancellation of a particularly favorite drink or food from one’s Starbucks menu, as in “Oh no! No more gingerbread lattes? That’s so depressing.” Of course these types of moments are not in fact, depressing. It is a phrase used to describe any moment or interchange in which we don’t get our way or we face minor frustrations.
In fact, true Depression is something much deeper and darker; something much more severe and painful, that takes you outside of and away from your own true self. Depression is looking at the world through a mono-chrome lense. Depression is having your taste buds muted. Depression is having your mind and your body separated from one another metaphysically speaking. It means living in a fog, half attending to the loved ones and the life around you, though struggling to do so. The Big D is a very painful thing. But I write about this topic not because I feel that the true stature of Depression should be defended. That is not my purpose. No, my purpose is to reflect on what it really is, and possibly to challenge others to consider it truly, so that those who are living with it or surviving past it can feel validated for the genuine pain and suffering experienced along the way. Depression as a term is bandied about so incorrectly and frequently that it risks negating the true bio-psycho-social experience that is Depression.
Often when a person is in a state of Depression they are not aware of it. This is because a symptom of depression can include the numbing of experiences and cognition, which is ironic considering that the illness is in reality rather painful. How odd for something be both numbing and painful at the same time. Yet it is. And it is only one of the many contradictions and challenges related to this very prevalent and challenging illness. But the numbing of the mind that occurs means that a person risks being unobservant of their actual psychic pain. As they become detached from themselves, and from others, they disappear into this foggy existence, like the person in the background of a picture whose image is unfocused while those in the foreground seem to shine through with clear crisp lines. This feels a lot like being lost inside of a very contained and well mapped space. Like getting lost inside of a shopping cart. Its tiny, there’s no place to go, yet somehow the depressed person doesn’t know how to find their way back to where they need to be.
Then there is the aftermath, once someone is found, assuming they ever are, and hopefully they are. When you eventually escape this seemingly unending and painful journey that is Depression, this out of focus snapshot that can drag on forever, there is the re-entry. Depression doesn’t usually just magically resolve and leave you. It slowly begins to loosen its hold, allowing colors to reappear, outlines to sharpen, voices to ring, birds to chirp, dogs bark, neighbors chuckle…. eventually the sounds and sights of life come through again. And the final re-entry comes when you, the formerly depressed, can actually chuckle along, smile at the sounds, breathe in the air, and feel the vibration and brilliance that is life. And now you are back in the world. But only after much pain and sorrow for you and the ones who love you.
If you are still on this journey back to the found box, keep going and don’t give up. You will arrive, and bless you for trudging through. If you have moved through this horrible experience, slowly cancelling the Big D’s hold on you, then welcome back. Picking up the pieces and resuming life at its fullest is exciting and challenging. But you can and will if you dedicate yourself to your own recovery. One breath at a time. One honest loving word toward yourself at a time. You are a brilliant and beautiful piece of light whose glow will shine brighter with every act of love and acceptance you give toward yourself. Embrace yourself and your own true nature. If you feel you can not do this alone, ask for help from a friend or a professional. It does not need to be like this.