Thursday, June 12, 2014

What's it like?

I've lived two lives. Two very different lives. Not one after the other, or one, the other, and back again. No. I have lived two lives at the very same time. For years.
From the outside, people see only one of them. They see a sister, a niece, a daughter, a nanny, a friend. They see a straight-A student. A singer. Someone who loves kids. A happy girl, with a bright smile and genuine laugh. And while all these things are parts of me, they do not make up Allie's full story.
You see, there's another part too. One that's hiding. Or was. But was finally exposed recently. The part that fights to get up in the morning. The one that doesn't see the same light as the other. The one behind the smile and laugh. That has often sat, numb, in a room, alone. Because leaving is too much of a struggle. Because it knows that outside of the protection of those four bedroom walls, it will have to hide. Again.
The one that suffers from depression.
Living with depression is a nearly impossible thing to describe. I once wrote, "I don't wish depression on anyone. But if they had it maybe they'd finally understand!" Because Depression is a mysterious illness that people without it have a VERY difficult time understanding.
But I'm going to try to shed some light on the topic anyway. Because it seems to me that people just don't get it. And while I am ok with words, this is just a bit beyond my ability. So here are 10 descriptions that I found:

1. Kevin Breel sums it up best when he says "Depression isn't being sad when things go wrong. It's being sad when everything is going right."

2. Depression is a second-self. One that's hiding behind a "happy face" and often behind a happy, successful person.

3. Depression is waking up in the morning and dreading the day, even when the sun is shining and there's nothing negative on the agenda.

4. "Feeling completely alone--even if you're surrounded by people."

5. It's a desire to cry but a lack of tears. It's a loneliness but a need for connection. It's wishing something would change, but a lack of motivation to make anything happen.

6. Depression is a fog that causes confusion, numbness, and ambivalence.

7. "Being depressed is all your emotions taken away from you--apart from negative ones like sadness, anxiety and fear."

8. "It's like drowning ... except you can see everyone around you breathing."

9. "Depression is a state in which nothing tastes, smells, or feels right and you are unable to think or make decisions--yet you still have to carry on doing all those things. And so much of the time you just don't have the energy or the desire. But you still carry on anyway."

10. "It's more painful than any physical pain I've ever experienced. And NO-ONE can see it."

That's the simple story. And I'm sorry if it got really intense. At some point, I could have described my depression in each one of those ways. I can verify that those statements are true at least for some people, and are very good descriptions of how depression has impacted and worked in me. But it's not always 100 percent like that for me. And there are times that I am so distracted that I actually forget about it. Completely. So in case you didn't know, people with depression don't always feel like they can't get out of bed, or always have a lack of motivation. My laughs aren't always fake and my smiles are sometimes truly genuine. Depression is a huge part of my life, but not all of it.

Now, for the second part of this post.

There's a problem with Depression in the fact that we don't confront it. We can't even talk about it. My guess is that 80 percent of you haven't even read a personal description of it. As Kevin Breel says, "we live in a world where if you break your arm, everyone runs over to sign your cast, but if
you tell people you're depressed, everyone runs the other way."
We push it under the rug and hope it will disappear. We ignore those crying out for help. And we lose someone to suicide every 30 seconds. Depression is a huge problem. And step one is to get it out there. To talk about it.

So I did. But telling my story isn't about to get everyone in the world to tell theirs. I get it. So, I'm going to start small. If you're struggling with Depression, know this: "Depression is okay. If you're going through it, know that you're okay. And know that you're sick, you're not weak, and it's an issue, not an identity, because when you get past the fear and the ridicule and the judgment and the stigma of others, you can see depression for what it really is, and that's just a part of life." (Kevin Breel - he's good, okay? ;)) And we talk about our lives. So let's talk about this part too. Our second selves, the ones that hide out of fear of whatever, are dying to be exposed to the light. And it's only then that we force the issue of Depression out from under the rug.

Yours Truthfully,