How the Debilitating Physical Side of Depression Affects Me

There’s so much more to depression that cannot be explained in the limited confines of words like sadness or helplessness. It is an illness does not leave when the cause of depression, if any, disappears. There’s no going back to square one.

A lot of our anguish stems from people’s reactions to our problems. I know people mean well when they say that now that the problem is gone, you’ll be alright. That is not the case. The damage is irreversible and leaves a scar. The symptoms may become manageable but it does not mean that things will go back to being what they once were.

People tend to think that depression is just a state of mind because it has been trivialized so much. For many of us, however, depression is excruciatingly, debilitatingly physical. It is every bit as debilitating as the more obvious physical ones.

For a lot of us, including me, depression manifests as back pain — agonizing back pain which feels like I’ve been stabbed in the back and the wound is open. This extends to the back of my neck. There is a profound feeling of loss as though the wound is bleeding energy.

At other times, it feels like tributaries of depression originating from the back of my neck and spreading to the rest of my body, capturing me in its fierce hook-like grip and stealing all my happiness.

Often, I am left unable to function. Just getting out of bed feels like a walk to Mordor. It sort of immobilizes me like those battery advertisements where the toy simply stops functioning. It also feels like I have a stone on my chest. It gets tough to breathe and I just start feeling so heavy. At its worst, I go still and silent, unable to move.

Smiling too feels like a chore and even the act of trying to use my facial muscles seems a horrendous effort. I may still go through the motions of a smile but it feels like a grimace.

I may look stoic and normal, but inside my head, it’s like the site of a natural disaster. It’s almost like I can hear people wailing. Not the actual sound, but just the impression of it. It can be extremely overwhelming.

Medicines have helped to keep me afloat. As contrary to public assumption, it does not give me a high or make me ‘happy.’ It simply allows me to move and be somewhat functional. I still have to struggle with it. It’s a beast that may be caged but never killed.

Experience has taught me to never forget this, as being taken unawares by a depression flare is way worse than dealing with it when you’re prepared to fight. Acceptance liberates, as does anticipation.

And by fight, I don’t mean you grit your teeth and constantly say to yourself that you won’t let it take you. The fight is in enjoying the small moments, in being lax with yourself and knowing you aren’t a failure, no matter what the world thinks. Just the fact that you still live, love and accept yourself is the greatest victory that can be had. To the people who are close to us, I’ll only say this: accept us as we are. What we’re dealing with is probably lifelong, so please don’t judge us for not hopping onto the immediate recovery train. Just be there for us and you’ll be the most precious thing in our lives.

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