Health and Medicine

My most important lesson from four months of depression.

The last four months have been hellish for me. I quit on the best job I ever had and withdrew from most of life — including my writing.

On some nights, I heavily flirted with the idea of finality. Of quiet stillness. Permanence. The people around me were puzzled. They weren’t the only ones. I was puzzled too.

I’ve got a great life. An extraordinary social life, exciting passion projects, a fantastic job, glowing career and a family I wouldn’t trade for the world. Yet, somehow, one day, with no easy or apparent explanation, none of it mattered anymore.

I had sunk into what felt like a catatonic depression — from all the ways in which it felt debilitating. Hard as I tried, like kicking against sinking sand, I couldn’t seem to get out of it. After weeks of a fruitless and gut-wrenching struggle, I surrendered.

I embraced the chaos and let the darkness of the fray consume me. Self-inflicted loneliness became my dutiful nightly companion and in the day my bed didn’t let me leave it.

Some weeks I watched, with weighty apathy, as the dawn rolled open its brightness, forcing the passing of time through the slits between my curtains. I turned over and lay on my back, motionlessly acknowledging its superiority.

There, watching the ceiling and counting the hours in my head as they passed slowly, I remained, attempting to understand why I couldn’t get up, but no longer trying as hard to fight the numbness, or the emptiness that had ploughed a harrowing canyon through my soul.

I would turn my head towards the window and welcome dusk hours later. Noticing that one more day had passed. Knowing I still hadn’t gotten up.

I’d check my stomach as if to inquire if it would be okay if we just stayed here and didn’t move today too… and perhaps fed tomorrow… well aware that even if it disagreed, the rest of my lifeless body wouldn’t be bothered enough to successfully drag me over to the kitchen and into the foil wrappings of days-old fast food deliveries that never met the feast they were implied to be coming because of.

I’d check with my bladder too. She was still most days. Quiet. Empty. Understanding. And so I would then begin to count now the hours until dawn fell again.

This week I’ve felt like myself again. I even felt that I could write. The cloud seems to have lifted, lastingly, finally.

I feel glad to be alive. Light… bright… giddy. Like I could take over the world. But I’m not going to.

Instead, I’m going to share what I have learned from this four-months-long life-altering experience and journal here and in other spaces as frequently as I can manage about life and ordinary everyday pleasures and stuff.

Here is my most important lesson:All of life’s problems can, when nothing else makes any sense, be explained by going back to the beginning — childhood.

We don’t all always have the best of those. Even the most normal and stable of early backgrounds will leave us scarred and tormented in some way.

Much of this trauma, mild and/or severe, resides in our subconscious, in the recesses of our distant and hard-to-reach little-known memory and wouldn’t present itself to us easily as the explanation for why, as adults, we feel stuck, for no apparent reason.

This conflict and disconnect between our logical and subconscious mind can prove emotionally catastrophic. It may explain, on the other hand, when detected, identified and understood, many of our adult dilemmas.

For instance, why we have angry personalities. Why depression won’t leave us. Why we feel like such screw-ups… Why we hurt the people we love, feel damaged, damage others, fear commitment or its absence, feel too needy and unhealthily emotionally dependent, or, why we don’t perform so well at work or school, even when we seem to give these things our best shot or go into them with the best of intentions.

These places in our subconscious are hard to reach, but not impossible. Once we have mustered the courage to dare to go there, and reach far deep down and ask the right questions, we can begin to fix, with patience, love and understanding, ourselves, and finally find liberation, and healing.

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