I hear that word a lot. You think it’s brave that I write this blog. You think it’s brave that I have come out of the “bipolar closet.” You find my honesty akin to bravery.
Thank you for that, but it doesn’t always feel brave. It feels intimidating and vulnerable and uncomfortable a lot of the time. But I do it because I know I am not alone. You’ve reached out to me, dear reader, and told me so.
Today is the “Day of Light,” a day where bloggers everywhere share their experiences with depression. I’ve talked about depression on “Being Beautifully Bipolar” before, but let’s delve a little deeper.
Depression and I are old friends. Quite old. We got to know each other before any of my best friends were my best friends. I took my first antidepressant in 2000 – well over a decade ago. That was in college during my junior year. I was tired and I was irritable and I isolated myself. I remember what a glorious feeling it was to graduate college because there was a time I didn’t know if I’d make it. I didn’t know I was beautifully bipolar at the time, perhaps because I hadn’t reached a state of full-blown mania or psychosis yet. Looking back I see signs, but for a long time it was just me and my unlikable friend, Depression.
Depression is a hole and it wants to suck you in. It craves all your attention until there is none left for anything else. Depression is an ache in your bones, a weariness. I have spent more days and nights than I care to remember thinking of ways to die. That’s what Depression does. It is a robber – of time and love and relationships and excitement. It is a robber of life.
Depression starts as a day spent in bed that turns into another then another and another after that until soon it has been a week since you’ve showered. Do you know how heavy a toothbrush is? That hairdryers were made for people who aren’t friends with Depression? I do.
But here’s the best bit, the good bit, the bit I hope you’ve read far enough to reach – it gets better. Depression is treatable. There are medications. There are lifestyle choices like getting enough exercise and plenty of sleep that can really, truly help. I know when you’re “in it” it feels suffocating and like you will never be well again and quite frankly, you don’t care if you are ever well again, you just want to make the aching stop. Now here’s where YOU get to be brave. You have to hang in there for the next ten minutes, then the next hour, then the next day and soon, inevitably Depression will walk out of your life.
I still deal with Depression. He comes to visit – uninvited – from time to time. And the world turns dark despite the shining sun. But I’ve learned just as he comes, so too will he go. I just have to hang in there because tomorrow could always be a better day.
If you or someone you know is dealing with depression, there is help. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or visit their website. Check out the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance site or the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) for information and support.
Depressed woman image available from Shutterstock.