I met depression early on, long before I was diagnosed with it in my teens. In retrospect, each moment we met appears cosmically aligned, a large red ‘STOP’ sign in my life directing me to hold court and assess my trajectory. Within a system governed by polypharmacy, the juncture that occurred in my teens was read as an indicator to medicate. Do not pass Go. Do not receive $200. Do not discuss your feelings. This decision fell on my shoulders as much as my doctor’s as I, an angsty teenager, viewed sharing my story akin to showing up naked to school. Teenage anger was romanticized; sincere vulnerability was not.
I understand that for some, depression is severe and life threatening to the point where medications are required at the very least to lift the veil of darkness in order to see a clear way through. But for me, anti-depressants did not aid my story. Medication simply put it on pause, storing it away deep in body, affecting me physically as it waited for me to be kind and patient enough with myself to take a look at it. Ignoring it intensified physical symptoms; stuck in the cage of my body it wreaked havoc from the inside out. Coming off the anti-depressants was an act of exorcism; a psychic sadness emerged that felt like a chokehold on my heart. I cried constantly, feeling unheard, unloved, and deeply rooted in the chant of self-doubt: ‘I am not enough’. My instinct was to reach out for something else that could suppress this pain. It has only been in the years since that I have realized suppression masquerades not only as alcohol and drugs, but also work, exercise, travelling, and silence, if I’m not careful.
But coming off of medication allowed me to see depression for monster that it truly was: a monster that feeds on lies. The lie that it loves is that we’re ‘fine’. When we refuse to tell our stories, we invite depression to the table. Despair, fatigue, and pain come from a life untold; they are the emotions of silent suffering, a sign of being too strong for too long. Of trying to be too small, for too long. Too quiet. When we lie to others and ourselves about who we truly are, scars and all – when we refuse to tell our true story – depression fattens up.
These truths are often that which we ‘cannot bear’ – what we haven’t grieved; the roles we have contorted to fit; a discrepancy between how we imagined our life would be and how it truly is; the shame we are carrying with us every damn day. For too long we’ve been told to avoid the pain – fix it, bottle it up, pour gloss over it, and shine it until it’s presentable. There is no depth here and depression loves a shallow world. When we run from our pain, we become the last thing we wanted: completely controlled by what we are running from. It dictates what we do, how we think, how we feel about ourselves, and worst, what decisions we make for our future. It drains the faith we place in the world and in ourselves.
In this state, we are contracted. Quarantined from the outside world we suffer quietly, now both depressed and isolated. Depressed and silenced. The opposite of depression is not happiness – it is expansion. Through the act of sharing, we expand. Within our truth, lies the key to slay this monster. We begin to starve it when we acknowledge the lies within ourselves. This does not mean we will never feel sad or lonely again. The world is sad and full of pain and you’ve got a seat on this cosmic roller coaster. But so do the rest of us. Our stories are truths that exist within all us, creating a thread that binds us together. When we break open our hearts and share them, we can trust that these threads will catch us if we fall. We can trust that telling our stories will, at the very least, free us from the isolation of carrying this pain alone.
Despair, fatigue, and pain come from a life untold; they are the emotions of silent suffering Click To Tweet Our stories are truths that exist within all us, creating a thread that binds us together Click To Tweet Telling our stories will, at the very least, free us from the isolation of carrying this pain alone Click To Tweet