I’m in a dark room. No light seeps in at a window or under a door. I vaguely recall that I left this room, long ago. Fleeting glimpses of light. But that’s all lost now.
The darkness is heavy, it sits on me, weighing me down. The walls feel thick and close. It’s hard to breathe. There’s no escape. I crumble under the weight of it, lay in a corner, curled up. I can’t move.
Depression. It has ahold of me. Again. As I write this I access my intellectual mind and I know that it hasn’t always been this way. I know that my mind was once like a big house, full of light and many different rooms. I walked in and out of those rooms happily and at my will. There was a room of sadness, it was dimmer than the rest, but I could leave. I could return to rooms full of joy, contentment, and satisfaction. I could even go to rooms of anger or hurt and leave them again.
But that house is gone now. This dark room is all I know. Flashes of anger find their way in, only to be pushed away again by the heavy darkness. I can’t go on. If this dark room is all I have, what’s the point? It’s a prison, a cage, solitary confinement. I can’t breathe. I can’t move. I can’t.
I wrote the above last week, in a dark moment. Things are better today, for now. Depression has loosened its grip and I see the world for what it is: I know that I have struggled with depression all of my adult life, but I also know that I have been on the winning side of that struggle as often, or more often, than depression has been. I’ve had years with only minor episodes and years with month on month of endless depression. Throughout those years there has been plenty of time when I have not been depressed. There has been joy, happiness, wonderful times.
But when I’m depressed I can’t see that. I can only see the depression: I come to believe that I have always felt this way. And that is depression’s strongest weapon: it’s ability to make me feel like this is all I am, and all I ever will be. And if that’s really true, then what is the point?
And the dark room is tempting. It lures me with its siren song of rest. It’s not a peaceful rest, but it is a rest, laying in that dark room alone. It’s easier sometimes to lay there than to struggle, to fight. And it’s safe in there: safe from the overwhelming emotions that I can’t control, safe from having to face people I may have lashed out at or hurt, safe from having to face myself. But the price for that safety is isolation, numbness and hopelessness.
My last major episode of depression was three years ago, when I was in the middle of leaving my ex-husband. I worked very hard to overcome that depression and I did well for a time. But this year has been hard. New baby, not working, moving across the country to a place where I knew no one. In retrospect, I see that I’ve been fighting depression all year. But I know now that I have to win. It’s not just about me anymore. And that’s my strongest weapon.