What I Think of Now When the Waves of Depression Leave Me Hopeless
When depression drove my life off track, I thought it was the end. I would never be able to recover all I had lost. I had spent so much of my life just barely hanging on, struggling with depression and anxiety, but I kept pushing through so no one would ever be able to guess anything was wrong.
When my panic disorder kept me from sleeping for a month during my sophomore year of college, I plunged into one of my darkest periods of depression. I managed to keep going to classes and completing my work, but I would cry alone in my room. At times, I even contemplated what the world would look like without me.
After that experience, I finally sought the medical and counseling treatment I had so long resisted. I realized my fragile grip on things was not enough. So I started seeing a counselor and went on medication. Things got better for a while, and I kept waiting for the medication to kick in and making everything better.
However, half a year later, I started to feel worse than ever before. I grew physically weaker and weaker and more and more depressed. No one could seem to make things better, not my family, not my counselor, not my psychiatrist, not my friends, not my God. I felt myself slipping beneath the waves of hopelessness and unspeakable hurt, and no one could throw a life vest my way. I felt abandoned by friends, unable to communicate my pain, and worthless to the people around me.
There were times I wanted to give in, just fall beneath the waves and let them carry my body to shore where everyone would regret how they had neglected me. Yet, I remembered I had a responsibility to myself, to my younger self who dreamed about the great things she would one day accomplish. I have a responsibility to fulfill those dreams for her. So I kept swimming even though those dreams were nowhere to be seen in the grey skies and constant rain that filled my life.
I made it through the school year and returned back home, but things were different for me. I realized I couldn’t go back to the school I had attended, not after what happened and not in my weak state. Not with the knowledge of how people there had abandoned me. I had to take a break from school and accept the surprisingly difficult purgatory of rest and recovery.
I quickly found that although I wasn’t not be drowning any more, life was still full of difficulty. Friends who I thought had sailed off for good would come back out of the blue and cheerfully strike up a conversation as if I had never been fighting for my life while they looked the other way. The silence of others who were once close became deafening.
Bitterness welled up in my soul and my heart grew hard toward those who had failed me in my time of need: peers, friends, my school, my community and God. I watched others’ lives roll on, hitting all the milestones I was missing and fulfilling the dreams I had aspired to. I mourned the past bitterly and kicked and screamed about the unfairness of it all. This was especially true when I found out the very treatment I had trusted to make me better had actually been the cause of some of my issues.
I thought I had come to the end of myself. I thought there was no hope. I thought I could not return to school. I poured out the ashes of my shattered dreams and watched them get whisked away in the wind as I became an old chapter in friends’ life stories.
I was stuck. Stuck at home. Stuck in a mire of being too healthy to be hospitalized but too sick to function normally. Stuck in a cycle of old emotions that kept coming back to torment me. Stuck reprimanding myself for being stuck going back and back and back to the same emotional issues I could never seem to solve, no matter how much time passed or therapy I attended.
Gradually, the tides began to change. The medication that turned out to have been hurting me was slowly drained from my system. New methods of treatment and a wonderful counselor helped me regain my grip on life stronger than ever before. I severed ties with those who had shown their true colors as fair-weather friends on my journey. I learned to stand on my own two feet and to have the boldness to share my story. I found a new school, new hobbies, new employment and new purpose. My crew is still sparse, and I still feel a bit jealous when I see friends who have graduated and moved forward in life. Yet, I am mostly hopeful. Because I know a mere eight months ago I was stranded, fully convinced there was no hope for me.
The old, dead dreams and hopes of my past life remain in my heart, but they now serve as a home for the new life I am building. For a long time, I was stuck, but the entire time I was growing. I still am growing, still struggling, but I am rising from the ashes I thought would be my grave. Now, I am stronger, freer, wiser, more grateful and more intentional about living my life and loving others.
Sometimes, the waves start to rise again and I find myself depressed, discouraged and feeling hopeless. I become afraid I will fall into a deep pit of despair again. Yet, when I’m tempted to give up hope and sink beneath those waves, resigned to what I’m sometimes convinced is my fate, I remember the little girl who used to dream of what she would be. Then, I grab the ropes to begin the journey to safety and recovery once again.
Whatever you’re going through, hope is real and you are worth the fight. So please, don’t give up. You deserve so much. You deserve a life lived fully. You deserve recovery, possibility and opportunity.
Follow this journey on These Dark Cafe Days.
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