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What I Found When I Came Out of the ‘Bubble’ of Depression

I returned to counseling this past winter not because I was depressed; but because I wasn’t, for the first time in years. The reason I returned to counseling is because, during the time that I did spend depressed, I lost everything. And now I was trying to rebuild, to pick up the pieces of my life, and I didn’t know how.

I described to my new counselor that the depression I had once experienced was like living inside of a bubble: a bubble that kept everyone out and zapped my time and my energy. I skipped class, left parties early and canceled plans to nurse my depression; I spent entire weekends alone, marinating in my sadness. My depression was an impenetrable bubble that consumed me. When I think of who I was inside of the bubble of my depression, and who I am now, they are two completely different people.

The girl who lived inside of that bubble was sick; she was sick in her thoughts, and those sick thoughts overtook her mind, body and soul like a parasite. You could see every ounce of her depression in her demeanor, in her washed-out skin and sunken eyes, as if it had leaked out of her mind and spread into her body, like an ink stain.

And because of that bubble, she didn’t have room for anything else; the people who loved her tried, and failed, to break past that impenetrable surface. She shut the world off and spent time in the sanctuary of her room, immersing herself in the depressive thoughts she wouldn’t dare say out loud. She cried, she wrote, she slept for hours, cried some more. She couldn’t look her best friends in the eyes.

During her time spent in that bubble of depression, she lost everything.

She lost friends who fiercely loved her, she lost her sense of self, her sense of purpose, lost her way. Lost the color in her skin and the color in her world, lost the light behind her eyes. She lost time spent in the present moment because her mind was consumed with the past. She lost opportunities. She lost youthful and glorious college moments that she would never get back. Her senses, and her world, had dulled.

But in the past year, the bubble of her depression shrank and shrank, very slowly, until it fully disappeared, and the girl who emerged was new; she was energized, recharged and ready to take on the world. You could see it in her skin and the way she talked. After spending so long in a shroud of depression, she could appreciate the light. She felt newborn; even simple things brought her immense joy, a joy she had never previously known. Electricity coursed through her veins; she knew who she was and what she wanted.

But when she took a look around her, she realized no one was there. She hadn’t noticed how much space the bubble took up, and now that it had disappeared, she was happier, and more alone, than ever. Her friends who fiercely loved her were long gone. And she didn’t know how to get them back.

The girl consumed by the bubble and the girl without the bubble are both me. But the girl who lived inside of that bubble is a girl I no longer recognize: a girl I can’t believe I once was. Depression is like living in an alternate reality, like a world flipped upside down. Your twisted ways of thinking seem perfectly “normal” and you accept that as your reality… until it isn’t anymore.

The girl without the bubble of depression is who I am today, who I am now. Energized, recharged, new, happy, taking life day by day and moment by moment. But the girl I used to be, the sad wisp of a girl, took a baseball bat to the mirror that is my life and shattered it. Now I’m left picking up the pieces.

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Photo by Zachary Spears on Unsplash