I wanted to be depressed
There was a time when I wanted to be depressed. It was comforting in a way, like a warm dirty blanket that you don’t want to wash; it’s gross but familiar. That’s how I feel about depression, it’s what I know, whether I “like” it, well, that’s another story. I’ve been intimately familiar with depression since I was a teenager and had repetitive thoughts about cutting my wrists open. I never did it, but that intrusive thought plagued me on a daily basis until I started therapy. It didn’t go away when I talked about it, but I began to understand it better. Oddly enough I never told my therapist about it directly, but I did tell her I was depressed and I couldn’t eat. I let her know I was so anxious that I was going to die. She explained that my thoughts didn’t mean that these things were going to happen. I became accustomed to depression.
Depression followed me
As an adult, I went through waves of depression. I went on Prozac at 18, but that didn’t eliminate depression from my reality. It showed up at random times, but also predictable. At some point, I grew tired of talking about my problems in therapy. I didn’t want to be different; I wasn’t into feeling like an outcast. But the thing was I already felt “weird.” So it made me want to isolate. Depression followed me like a stray dog. I let it because I felt bad for it. I allowed it to sleep next to me at night, even tucked it in. I fed it scraps from my dinner when it was hungry. I didn’t dissuade it from being with me; I encouraged it.
I remember one weekend, I was in my late 20s, my boyfriend was over at my parents’ house with me. I was depressed, and comfortable at the same time. I was tired, but not physically exhausted, emotionally tired. My dad and my boyfriend spent the weekend binge-watching “Lost.” Meanwhile, depression and I slept for 72 hours on the couch. I entered in and out of consciousness, aware of Jack finding the hatch on the island, but not caring enough to follow the plot. That weekend is both a blur and extremely clear. I let depression be with me because it was prickly but familiar. You know when you go to the doctor, and they prick your finger? It’s a feeling we all know well. It’s unpleasant but universal. I left depression hurt me that entire weekend. I didn’t fight it; I enjoyed snuggling with it, the dirty blanket, the clothes I hadn’t changed in over three days. Nobody stopped me; no one told me I needed to change my pants. They knew I was in pain and they let me be, not because they didn’t care, but rather that’s what I wanted. I wanted to be left alone. It hurt to open my eyes, face life, be alive; so I slept through those emotions.
I found a therapist who I connected with. She understood me and finished my sentences. I was relieved and terrified. What if I got well? I wouldn’t have depression to lean on anymore. I couldn’t abandon what I knew. Who was I without depression? My identity confused the shit out of me. If I let go of this familiar neighbor, what would happen? It felt as if I would die. I knew cognitively that wasn’t true, but it felt so real. It’s like people who stay in abusive relationships, not because they want to be abused, but because it’s scary to leave; it’s frightening to embrace the ambiguity; the unknown.
I chose to heal
I grew tired of letting depression sleep next to me. It hogged the bed and made it so I couldn’t breathe. I shoved it over, told it to sleep elsewhere. Sometimes it tries to crawl into bed with me. If I’m tired, I let it stay there for a while until I have the energy to kick it out of my bedroom. But sometimes I need help. When I wake up, I call my friends or my parents and tell them I feel weak. I ask my boyfriend to hold me; I reveal to my therapist that I have insomnia; that depression won’t let me fade into dreaming. They remind me I have the power to kick depression out. I can heal for a while. I can’t control when it comes back, but at least I know how to cope, and I am powerful. More than I know sometimes.