I was on Facebook today and I came across this blog post by the Humans of New York website which I really wanted to share. While Depression and Mental Illness are slowly coming out into the sphere of public discussion as genuine medical conditions, I feel that sometimes it is very difficult for patients to put into words the exact feelings of Depression in that very dark moment; And as a result, it’s harder for sick people to talk about it, and even harder for healthy people to understand and take seriously.
Before I even knew I was depressed, I was labelled everything from being “too sensitive” to “lazy” to “procrastinating” to “always having a problem”, “PMS-ing” or “arrogant and self-absorbed”. While there have been moments in my life where I have been all of those things, they do not define Depression. Even today, I find it hard to talk to family and friends about it mainly because I don’t know how to describe it without it sounding superficial or whiny or tempermental.
So when I saw this blog post, I instantly felt connected to this woman. She knows what I mean to say, she has constructed in words exactly what I feel on those bad days. And she shared her story with Humans of New York in a very real, beautiful, matter-of-fact way. I’m truly grateful for this post and I hope Humans of New York will continue to post more stories like this. Afterall, it’s given me a way to explain my own symptoms during my darkest moments and, to be honest, to be able to do that and help others understand this disease, well that’s half the battle won already.
HUMANS OF NEW YORK BLOG POST
“When I was depressed, it felt like I was walking through mud all the time. My head was filled with thoughts like, ‘If my friends knew who I really was, they wouldn’t love me.’ And, ‘What right do I have to exist?’ And, eventually, ‘Why do any of us have the right to exist?’ If people were being kind to me, I wasn’t able to access that kindness. It wouldn’t produce a feeling in me. If a child smiled at me from a stroller, it might lift me up for a millisecond, but then I’d fall back into darkness. Before I was depressed, I could find joy in things so easily. I worked as a gardener, and I learned the calls of the birds so I could tell where they were just by listening. I loved to show new plants and insects to children, and see how excited they’d get. I made a 50th birthday card for my sister, and got strangers from all over the world to write ‘Happy Birthday’ in their language. But during my depression, I couldn’t access any of that joy. I’d try reminding myself that other people had bigger problems. I’d try telling myself to quit being weak, and to snap out of it. But nothing worked.”
“I’m trying to come back to work after a period of depression. I’ve battled it off-and-on my whole life, but two years ago the wheels just completely came off. I’d just had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with my friends, and I went to sleep in a good mood, but then the next day I couldn’t get out of bed. I was still in bed four days later when my boss started calling. The next two years were a battle. I lost my job. I was hospitalized three times. I filled a giant binder with information about depression, where to find programs, and how to appeal your insurance company. I felt like I was fighting for my life. I’d call a hospital that specialized in a certain type of therapy, and they’d tell me they didn’t take my insurance. I’d say: ‘Please help me. I’m dying.”