The Most Powerful Question to Ask Someone With Depression
It’s heavy, isn’t it? The soul-defeating ache that seeps through your core. It’s a moment that feels as though it’ll never come to an end.
How can something feel so heavy, as though you’re being anchored beneath your feet, yet make you feel so far off the ground all at once?
Today, we live amongst those who have become further educated and aware regarding this topic, though at times it can be doubted. Humanity is gradually becoming more open-minded and considerate to the point where society has created an “Are you OK?” day, reminding people that it’s OK not to be OK.
However, depression is that nuisance that cuts you off on the freeway as you’re trying to change lanes. It’s the unforeseen.
So on that particular day, I might have been OK. But two days after that day, I lay awake, glaring at the foundation setting crack on my roof I can see from the little bit of light that the moon allocated there. Two days later, I’m trapped within these walls I call my home.
And it’s exactly that: trapped.
For me, depression worked in a swift way and it came in various forms.
The one that held me captive within my four bedroom walls — that I swear whispered to me — divided me from the rest of society. The outside air had no way of getting in but the feeling of breathlessness I was experiencing seemed to fill the room with just enough that I didn’t have the energy nor desire to open the window or blinds. This form is one where everything seemed like an effort: getting up out of bed, walking, eating, talking, breathing… living.
Another was going through day-to-day life. For me, this form had no warning signs. I was surrounded by people but still felt so alone. I was numb, detached from reality, I filled myself with pessimistic thoughts. I became unresponsive, not realizing how far gone I was until I’d be standing there with my heart in my hands trying to figure out what foot is best to put forward first. I’d find myself asking my depression, “How long do you plan on staying this time?” as though it’s an obnoxious guest staying from out of town.
My depression was my alter ego that talked to me; the one with no face yet the scariest, most intimidating creature I have ever met, eliminating my fear of living which meant, when I was in the worst part of it, I was scared of existing.
It kicked me when I was down, reminding me of all the hurt, all the heartache. It brought everything to surface, making me question myself as a mother, a daughter, a sister, a partner. I could feel it all. It would pull my feet out from underneath me and wrap me up, embracing me with all of its might, restricting my airways, making me feel as though I had lost all control.
That’s the thing about the D-word: it’s hidden. It’s not a sniffily nose or an irritant cough. It’s not a quick fix with painkillers and cough syrup. It’s a process of building yourself back up again, not expecting to let go all at once but instead guiding yourself to evolve, moving forward, letting go a little more as each day passes.
Even though I write in past tense, I know all too well that I could wake up next week and be greeted by my obnoxious guest; after all, I have a long-term relationship with depression. I know it may come back; I don’t want to be naive in thinking it can be entirely defeated, since life comes with a number of trials and tribunals. However, I know each time I endure it, I become stronger at handling the situation when it visits.
There were a number of things that got me to that point of helplessness, but those things weren’t going to help me out of the darkness I was in. It was up to me to learn to follow what lesson I could take from the test and keep moving forward.
So, I write in past tense to illustrate that depression is something that doesn’t have to affect me constantly. It’s to show that it is possible for this to become a distant emotion. I know, right now, it seems like the weight on your shoulders is becoming heavier with each passing minute, but I want you to know that even though it doesn’t feel like it now, you are going to be OK. Maybe not right this minute or tomorrow, but in time, this moment will pass and you will be OK. How many times have you heard yourself whisper, “I can’t do this anymore,” and how many times have you come out the other side feeling stronger than before?
Depression gave me the illusion it was in control when, in fact, I was the one steering all along. My view was foggy and all I needed to do was turn my defrosters on. I know the one thing I will always have and the one thing no one can ever take from me is my strength and my ability to say “I got through it.”
My days are ever changing, I have surprised myself countless times and know these two feet that carry me will continue to do just that through any future struggle I am yet to experience.
We are neighbored by people around us that want to listen.
R U OK?Day, on September 13, 2018, isn’t just a date, but instead a reminder that mental health is an ongoing issue. We use this day to ground consistent movement of discussion between the people around us, because it stands true that there is a certain power in the simplest of questions: “Are you OK?”
I know it isn’t easy. I know how hard is to dust yourself off and keep going. This might not be the last time you need to do this, but when you look back at this moment in years to come, you get to say “I got through it.” You may go between your good and bad days. So, on the good days, revel in your bliss, and on the bad days, remember how you have made it this far. We are all a work-in-progress. Remember, before anything else, just how brave you are.
R U OK? is a nonprofit organization that aims to inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with people around them and support anyone struggling with life. R U OK? Day is a national day of action, held on the second Thursday of September each year. But every day is the day to start a conversation. Conversation tips and crisis numbers can be found at ruok.org.au.
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Photo by Velizar Ivanov on Unsplash