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In the Moments Depression Feels Like a Vortex of Doom

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You know when you go to the DMV and have to sit there in the little waiting area for about a million years? You’re just sitting there in a trance, staring mindlessly at those letters and numbers. Waiting. You’ve been there so long that cars have now become obsolete, people commute with flying dinosaur clones, and Kanye West is the Supreme Overlord of the United States. You go to the lady at the desk and yell because all you want is to just move on with your life. You’re yelling, but no sound is coming from your mouth. Finally you’re number is called, and it is the best thing in the world! You’re led out of the waiting room, only to be forced to sit in yet another waiting room. The whole process starts all over again, and you’re left in this funky DMV vortex of doom.

Well, this is sort of what depression feels like.

It’s constantly feeling a weird mix of sadness, frustration, worthlessness, self-loathing, and overall emptiness. It’s constantly waiting for all these feelings to pass. Then when they finally sort of do, and you think you’re OK, they come back. It is terrible.

I don’t really talk about my depressive tendencies with very many people, partly because of the stigma, partly because of the anxiety that accompanies it, and partly because it’s just a difficult thing to explain to a person who hasn’t gone through it.

I’ve only learned somewhat recently that it’s actually not normal for a person to feel constantly sad and frustrated with oneself. It sounds kind of messed up, but this was how I’ve always felt about myself. It became the norm for me.

It never even occurred to me that I may have a depression or anxiety problem until a little over a year ago when I was wandering around Pinterest and stumbled upon a Buzzfeed graphic depicting depression. I thought to myself, “Huh, that’s funny. That is exactly how I’ve felt on a daily basis since forever.”

I clicked the link and read through other articles about mental health.

And then I panicked.

Sure, it explained a lot, but I wasn’t supposed to be depressed. I knew a couple people who’ve had mental health issues, but how could I be one of them? I didn’t feel like I had a reason to be depressed. People have told me all throughout my life that I’ve been through so much, but it never seemed like a big deal to me.

The thing is though, none of that stuff matters.

Even if you’re in denial and feel like you don’t deserve to feel depressed, you can still be depressed. There’s not some guy in a dark cloak named Depression who hand-selects those who have the most complicated lives and curses them to a life of utter misery. It’s up for grabs. Anyone can get it. Sometimes there might not be a clear rhyme or reason to it. Other times you just don’t realize how things in your life affect you until you’ve already reached the dark side. It just happens.

The stigma doesn’t make it any better either. Talking about my mental health is awkward for me, and it really shouldn’t be. But when someone complains that I’m “too sensitive,” it makes me think I’m being too much of a Negative Nancy and nobody cares. When someone tells me I’m “bringing the party down,” it makes me not want to burden other people with my pointless problems. And when someone asks about the Band-Aid on my arm and then another oblivious person jokes and says, “Relax! It’s not like she’s cutting herself,” it makes me mortified and embarrassed and want to crawl in a ditch and never come out.

I could probably go on and on with some inspirational, uplifting words of wisdom. I could talk about hopes and dreams and trudging through the dark times because the light at the end of the tunnel will surely come and all that junk. However, those would be lies coming from me. This is a thing I am actively dealing with. How the hell am I supposed to know everything will be OK in the end? What authority do I have to say that? Who I am to attempt to make such a life-altering prediction?

Obviously from the looks of it, I tend to have a rather grim outlook on life. The back of my mind mainly consists of one of those huge LED neon signs that says, “Life sucks and then you die” surrounded by a big rainbow and several butterflies. (But that could also be the depression talking; I’m not quite sure.)

My whole point in all of this is I may be actively going through this garbage called depression, but I’m still here. I’m still trying. It’s weird because there’s part of me, the part where the anxiety lives, that is terrified I’ll always feel miserable, that it’ll never end. Then there’s the depressed side of me that soaks in it like a bubble bath. But there’s another teeny, tiny part of me that still has hope. That’s why I go to counseling. That’s why I started taking medication. That’s why I haven’t killed myself. Because for some reason, deep beneath the million tons of garbage, I feel like maybe it will get better.

So many people deal with this stuff on a daily basis. The stigma is just ridiculous, and the only way to end the stigma of anything is to educate people. If something someone says is triggering and makes you feel like ball of nothingness, say something. If you see someone acting ignorant towards someone else struggling with their mental health, say something. And if you know someone struggling and genuinely want to help them, you need to say something because there could be a million things preventing them from asking for your help, but just letting them know you’re there and asking them what you can do to help them has the potential to make a massive difference.

And maybe, just maybe, more of us can successfully escape this vortex of doom.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Thinkstock photo by Jacky Leung

Originally published: March 24, 2017
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