There is a difference between being depressed and being momentarily ‘sad’. Depression is a constant state of being sad! But I’m not writing about the science of this condition. If you want facts, the internet is overflowing with information. I am here to try to tell you some things I know about depression from first hand experience.
I had experienced depression for nearly two years. It is always interesting for me to think about, because I had never imagined I would ever be affected by it.
The feeling of being depressed is a compressed feeling. It is never about one emotion. There are several major emotions that mix together. Hopelessness and loneliness are two of the main ingredients. There was a time when I thought hope was a redundant concept. That we don’t understand, we label.
It was only later I realized that hopelessness was the absolute and singular cause for me being low. And ‘hope’ for me had stood for the future, for answers, for reasons, for a way and for truth.
In fact, I was so hopeless that I had no will or faith for the next hour, or for the next day. I had read many sayings and phrases on this word everyone talked about. But they never appealed to me. Then, suddenly, the very word I had ignored, stuck in my face in the form of an answer I was so eagerly waiting for!
Many people take hope lightly, just like I did once upon a time.
But hope is important. Hope sustains life. Many believe that we die when we stop dreaming. I say otherwise. I believe otherwise. I believe hope is foremost. I believe hope is what sprinkles a bit of meaning into all that we strive to do. Hope is what defines willpower.
And without hope we die.
Those undergoing depression feel lifeless. Just like “The Walking Dead” (an American TV Series), if you will. Joanne Rowling personifies her depressed phase in the Harry Potter books in the form of Dementors. And God, did she get it right! They make a person feel as if they will never be cheerful again.
The next feeling is loneliness. There is a difference between being lonely and being alone. Being alone can be very therapeutic. I enjoy being alone. When I’m alone, I create.
When I was in Kota, I told one of my friends that I feel lonely. She said that I was lucky because God was telling me to discover myself in solitude. I believed her. But just like her, I misunderstood what I was really going through.
Loneliness is, in essence, the worst manner in which someone can be disconnected from their surroundings.
You look at a few people, you look at thousands, yet you feel no warmth or connection. There is a separation so wide that you feel isolated from everything.
You will laugh with people you openly call “friends”, but deep within, it’s just pretense. It’s just a shallow experience. Merely superficial. You look at faces, searching for meaning, searching for a connection, even a little spark, but you get nothing.
Being a prisoner of the past is also a contributor to loneliness. Over time, we develop a standard with which we measure our present moments. We even have a subconscious rating system; we are ‘happy’ if the experience was nearly as close to that of the past. We pretend if it didn’t rise even one point on the scale.
Loneliness is deceitful. Loneliness is expensive. Loneliness creeps into us over time. The longer we entertain it, the stronger it’s influence. Loneliness brings hopelessness.
It is very easy to know when you’re depressed. I have never been sick with Malaria or Typhoid. As far as I can recall, I have been sick (nausea, fever) for not more than five times. However, I believe that I’m prone to depression.
So, for me, depression is as worse as it gets. It is this agonizing feeling of emptiness. A permanent hole in the chest that no TV, no gadget, no luxury, no book, no quote and no success can fill. At the same time and weirdly so, it is also like a feeling of being burdened. It is as if someone has tied a rock to your chest and you can’t get rid of it!
You may have tried everything. You might have given in to stress-eating, excessive television, or the worst, excessive time on social networking and chat apps.
Deep down, you know that you are merely distracting yourself. Running away, as they call it! Nothing satisfies you. In fact, it is not an issue of satisfaction at all. It is primarily about a quest for answers, or for that one ‘thing’ that’ll neutralize everything.
“Get over yourself!” “Come on, be cheerful,” these phrases do nothing but pressurize the person. I have heard them many times. “Choose happiness,” I like this one. It assures me that I can have control. Sadly, it stays with you temporarily!
Depression is heavier than it seems. There is nothing ‘dreamy’ about it. It is a state. But it doesn’t take long to integrate into who you are.
We have a knack of keeping our feelings secret. We don’t want to bring them forward. We are afraid of a faceless force that will crush us if we openly ask for comfort, affection and above all, understanding.
You’ve never known inner-emptiness if you’ve never been depressed. There are many tragedies in life, many incidents which bring us to our knees. But there is always a couple of feelings attached to them. In case of depression, it makes you hollow in such a way that you have to forcefully inject emotions and feelings into an abyss, and still feel unsated.
We walk, we talk, we laugh with you, but when we are not around you, we feel dead. Yes, depression gives you a look into how your dead body might feel six feet under the dirt!
If not everything, the depressed person realizes this one thing, that the real enemy is their own selves. They see the world acting in a cyclic way. They can anticipate the days that’ll be okay and the days that’ll be miserable. They hate what’s inside their skin – worthless sacks of blood and bones, functioning for a person who doesn’t want to live!
There are times when a depressed person will look in the mirror and feel purposeless in a world that doesn’t stop for anyone. At those times, there is just one idea, one ‘reality’ that becomes their pivot for ‘holding on’. It is like hope that has materialized in the form of someone who will be devastated if you are not in their world. And you hold on, because of that someone (parents, friends, love). How amazing is that?
The world needs people who understand.
Society may stigmatize depression, but then they stigmatize the blind, the differently-abled, the differently oriented, the ‘lower-castes’, the ‘mad-ones’, the ‘weak-ones’, the ‘ones who’ve been sexually abused’, the ‘housewife’, the ‘modern-girl’, the ‘bullied-guy’, and the list goes on.
The world needs people who are not judgmental.
The world needs a special connection, a special affection, a special ‘wide-open-arms’ mentality.
If you know someone who is depressed, please seek help for that person. And the best you can do is to be there! They will not share their condition, but secretly, that’s what they’d want from you.
Remember, depression is for real. It’s all around you!
The reason I’m stressing on the urgency of help is because I was helped by someone recently. And that person shined like light in my pitch black night. She came like one those people whom you are tempted to ask, “are you Jesus?”
There are no words or sentences in this universe that can possibly encompass the touch of empathy, support and acceptance. All I can say now is that I feel good!
To all those suffering, it’s time to confide in a close friend or a therapist. You don’t have to be what Indian society calls paagal (insane) to visit a psychiatrist. Some of us even know the reason we feel low.
Sometimes, simply sharing your feelings can be an uplifting experience. Sometimes, talking to people can be such an overwhelming feeling that – at least for some time – you realize that your sufferings are so tiny before their kindness.
Lastly, know that it is not some hero in a far off land who cries behind closed doors, it is someone in your own neighborhood who does!
We are light. We just don’t choose to express ourselves. I’m hardly a Christian but as Jesus said: “You are light of the world. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub. Your light must shine before others!”
And, yes, I believe Him!
The following post was first published on George Felix’s personal blog, www.GeorgeFelix.in. It has been published on YKA by the author.