At age 15, this storm brewing inside me is given a name: depression. Welcome to the world – my world that I’m now forced to share with you. But I’m too happy to be depressed? Life has been too good to me for me to just turn around and bury its gifts under a pile of sadness. I did something wrong. I feel guilty for not seizing the happiness that has been given to me. But it’s out of my hands, and now in yours, depression. And as you team up with your best friend, anxiety, my body is no longer mine.
It’s a never-ending game of monkey in the middle, with your looming presence on either side. I jump, and run, and dive, stretching my fingers to reclaim my sanity, my peace, my love for life and myself. Sometimes I graze it, just barely able to reach. It’s there, but I can’t quite get it. And sometimes, I do! It’s so wonderful and joyous and light, and mine, and – now it’s time to give it back. No warning, like a bully sneaking up behind me and stealing it out of my fragile hands that have been fighting this whole time to gain strength, only to be slapped back into their place.
Life isn’t miserable – there are so many good days. So many fun moments. So much to be thankful for and happy about. But my happiness comes with conditions. It’s not mine to cherish, it’s yours to tease me with. And that suspense makes it harder and harder to enjoy the good days. Every time I think you’re gone, you creep back in and taint everything I’ve worked so hard for. You make me feel tired when I’ve done nothing but lay in bed. You cast a dark cloud over a light-hearted day for no other reason than the fact that you can.
At age 22, I file a restraining order against you in the form of medication. It takes time, but I’m one of the lucky ones and it works. What I wouldn’t give for you to be gone altogether… but that’s not how this works. I can’t cut out a part of myself. Your name is on the lease of my life, and I have no choice but to let you stay here. But now, depression, it’s going to be under my terms. I know you’re still here, and I still have to make time to reevaluate your presence and act accordingly.
I’m not 15 anymore. I know how you operate. Sometimes you throw me a curve ball, and it feels like I’m back in that monkey in the middle game. But I’m taller now, and I’ll grab that happiness when you’ll least expect it. You thought you’d win the game, but I’ve been hustling you for years – I’m stronger than you thought. You and I have decades more together; sometimes I’ll win, and sometimes you will. But I’m not throwing in the towel, so depression, you better watch your back.
I’d like to add that this is my own experience with depression, and not what all individuals with depression encounter. There are thousands of people suffering who medication and traditional treatments do not work for. Similarly, although medication has personally helped me a great deal, it is not a cure. Treat those struggling with kindness, patience, and understanding, and encourage them to share their stories, rather than hide them in shame.