real life

This is what depression feels like. (From someone who's lived it).

“This is my depression.”

 

Its name is Prudence. It inhabits me. Is me. Convinces me we are one and the same. Prudence tells me that I am hopeless. Useless. She is my black dog.

This is my depression.

It’s an imperfectly round ball, lodged in my left side. Cover my stomach with sticky cold gel and you’ll see it there on ultrasound. It aches. Pulses. A dull, localised pain. I want it surgically removed.

This is my depression.

It’s the Lana Del Ray album I listened to on repeat while in the hospital. Its eerie, lonely, melancholy. My inpatient soundtrack. It sings my sadness.

This is my depression.

It is fat, hot tears. Short sharp outbursts. Long cathartic sobs. And silence. The quietest of silences.

This is my depression.

It’s a pair of glasses splattered with dirt so I can’t see anything clearly. The world is distorted and so are the interpretations I make of it. I’m bereft. I’ve lost my compass.

“It tells me I am hopeless. Useless. It is my black dog.”

This is my depression.

It’s a skin so thin that everything seeps through. I’m porous. Bloated with sad. Life is an assault. Everything is too noisy, too bright, too fast. I can’t keep up. I’m left behind.

This is my depression.

It’s in my throat. The length of my neck. It throbs. It’s hard to…

This is my depression.

It’s a heavy black coat, too warm for the weather. I drag it around. The thick, inconvenient weight of it. It’s burdensome. Fits poorly. It doesn’t suit me. Black is not my colour. Each of my movements is labored. I misjudge the speed of oncoming traffic. I’m too slow as I walk through the barrier at the train station. It slams in front of me before I can pass. A thump of metal. And I’m locked out.

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This is my depression.

It’s the stranger in the mirror. My sick, fragile sister. Her dark, empty eyes. There are bones in her shoulders that I don’t recognise. Did I eat today? Yesterday? I’ve lost my hunger. I don’t know where I left it.

This is my depression.

It’s a muddied brain. Thoughts that come too fast or too slow. Rumination cycles, I can’t leap off. It’s a broken memory. Forgotten plans. Misread words on a page. Books abandoned in piles. Concentration shot.

This is my depression.

Ariane.

It’s paralysing fatigue. Eye sockets that ache. Heavy, weak, limbs. A body that craves and cries out for sleep and the sanctuary of a doona cave. Yet wrestles with insomnia for the right to rest.

This is my depression.

It’s the strength I knew was there, but didn’t ever need. The steely, stubborn resolve. The small, green shoots of the new me, because I’m forever changed now. Where the sad used to hide, there’s wisdom.

Compassion. The deepest empathy. I’ve learnt another language. I’m fluent in despair. And the hope that follows. I’ll teach it to others, someday.

It’s the discovery that there’s such beauty in the breakdown. I’m seeing it now. I find it in words and music and in the shock of blue sky after days of rain. My skin is still porous but it lets the light through.

It’s the exquisite kindness of family and friends. The unwavering support of my husband who loves me fiercely. I inhale his strength and breathe out fresh courage. I’m a little better every day.

This is my recovery.

Our experiences of depression are similar. But different.
If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner or in Australia, contact Lifeline 13 11 14 for support or beyondblue 1300 22 4636.

Ariane is a 29 year old mum of one who is looking forward to her approaching 30th birthday, as odd numbers make her nervous. She holds Peppa Pig responsible for recently teaching her son the word “why?” and is not to be left unsupervised in secondhand book stores. You can find her on twitter @Ariane_JMS.

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