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Depression Has an Achilles' Heel

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Depression, I hate you. I loathe you, I despise you and I detest you.

I hope these words sting and you somehow feel them at the core of your empty, hollow, soulless self. I hope what I say somehow shakes your confidence and softens your arrogance. But then again, given the numbers of “clients” you have, you may not even know who I am.

I, on the other hand, know you far too well. I know what you look, feel, smell, sound and even taste like. I know your traits, habits and idiosyncrasies. While you may not be able to pick me out of a crowd, I can see you from a mile away. My disgust for you is very personal. It’s a hatred that comes from years and years of hand-to-hand combat with you. Of hours, days, weeks and months of knockdown, drag-out marathon battles with you. All this to say, our relationship sucks!

We have been together for way too long and to be honest, I just can’t stand you anymore. While you are a known commodity in my life, a predictable albeit awful presence, I have come to know you are the meaning behind the expression “familiarity breeds contempt!”

It might surprise you, but truth be told, breaking up is not hard to do. Now, I’ll be the first to admit I’m not perfect, but I don’t deserve you. I don’t deserve to be robbed of priceless self-worth and self-confidence, and in their places, be filled with acute self-doubt and self-hatred. You have no right to steal away my hope and reason for living, and then have the audacity to leave me feeling like it was all my fault.

How dare you!

Looking back, I now realize our history is a long one and I should have known from the beginning that life with you would be awful. But you came uninvited. You just showed up. First, as a troubling thought, then as a damning feeling. In time, as a series of self-defeating, harmful actions. You stole me away as would a jealous lover telling me the others just don’t understand, and it’s better and safer when it’s just the two of us. But once you had me alone, you took me into the dark cellar of my mind, violated me, then tossed me aside like a piece of garbage, stranding me in the dreaded zip code of isolation.

And all the while, you spoke in the voice of absolute feelings:

“You’re completely weak, stupid, ugly and pitiful. You’re absolutely useless and unwanted and unworthy. You’re a problem, a pain, an embarrassment and a burden. Nobody loves you and everybody would be better off without you.”

You separated me from the living and held me captive. I fought back with all the strength I could muster to free myself from your grasp. I screamed, but your hand was firm across my mouth, and no one could hear me. The longer you abused me, the more I weakened, and when you finally did let me up, I felt as if I had been hollowed out, split apart into multiple pieces, emptied of all want and vitality.

But, here’s the truth: depression, you are a coward. You are the type of thief that comes in through the backdoor like destructive malware. You hide in DNA and trauma of every kind. You are that kind of leech who, once attached, devours its favorite delicacy. In your case, it’s a person’s soul that’s on the menu. You are the bully we read about. The sorry one who loves to pick on the undersized, the despondent and the heartbroken. Somehow, you grow stronger the more victims to capture. You gain strength as we tire and grow weary. Too many of my brothers and sisters have lost their lives because of you. Too many amazing souls have been struck down, many in the prime of their lives, incredible people who represented all walks of life. You took each by the hand, walked them to the very edge of hopelessness and then pushed them forward.

Your evil knows no limits, nor do you discriminate in your cruelty. Your prey is so diverse because you want it all. You want the world to hurt and to bow down to you. You demand we offer up our very lives as a holy sacrifice, begging and pleading for mercy you never intend to grant.

Depression, you f’ing suck!

I am so done with you, and I am putting you on notice; this relationship is over! Now, I’m not naive enough to think you won’t go down without a fight. I know you’ll do your best to hold onto me and land a punch or two. But that’s only if I take you on alone, and I have no intention of going solo. I don’t have to. You see, a close friend shared a secret with me and in doing so, exposed your achilles’ heel: you have no defense against connection. You might be able to deliver the knockout blow when it’s one-on-one, but not so when it us against you.

In other words, there is no “you” in “we.”

There is a powerful alliance that is forming. The many of us you have tormented are now coming forth from the dark and one by one, an army is building and our attack plan is being perfected. We are emerging from the shadows at the invitation from others to speak up. It seems that people are hungry to hear our battle tales from our fight with you. They want to know how we kept going, even when we were down and close to out. Here’s the best part: every time we share our stories, people of all kinds rush forward and tell us we are heroes, that we are total badasses for being authentic and vulnerable. And when they do, they help us take off one more of the heavy layers of shame you laid upon us.

Our best defense against you is being vulnerable and opening up to others. In doing so, we not only gain strength, but we can also rescue the others you are abusing. We have come to realize that many of our brothers and sisters who are in peril have been hiding in plain sight. They have been right in front of us all along, but since the pain you inflict is most often invisible, we simply didn’t know. But now we do, and we know they come in all shapes and sizes.

They are our neighbors, our friends, family members and coworkers. They are the people we pass on the street and the souls we stand with at the intersection. They are the waitress, the shift worker and the CEO. The army officer, the nurse and the sanitation worker. They are the high class and the low down, the black man, the white woman, the Mexican child and the Canadian citizen. When they hear their story in our story, it’s like an “all clear” has been sounded and they know it’s safe to come out. They wait their turn, hesitant but relieved, and they move forward and whisper, “Me too!”

You see, Depression, while you made us feel tarnished, useless and worthless, and created doubt and uncertainty in us, you made a huge tactical error; you forgot to rob us of our divinity, of the truth that love created us. Pure love. And from whence we came, hence we will go, without you anywhere in sight. If I were you, I’d sleep with one eye open. We are coming to get your sorry ass and I’d suggest you do your best and be prepared for a beatdown. And what a beating it will be.

Blow after blow will weaken you. You will drop to your knees and then fall on your back. As you are gasping for breath, the roles reversed, you’ll look up and the last thing you’ll see is our smiling faces. Karma is such a bitch, isn’t it?

But here’s what will really hurt; I’m better because of you. That’s right, while you had no intention of helping me, you did so anyway. Because of you, I’m more aware, more understanding and more compassionate. I have developed deeper empathy, patience and sensitivity. I now know the look of someone who’s hurting, the pain that lies behind a forced smile or distracting joke. I know how badly my brother or sister wants to speak of their suffering, knowing if they can find just one empathetic ear, they can unburden their soul and then stand up a little straighter.

So in the end, it was I who was the thief, the clever one who took from you while you slept. It was me who crafted gifts from garbage while you slumbered between your attacks. Yes, I am a far better man because of you. I know these words sting. Oh, and one last thing: Depression, I hate you.

Unsplash via Warren Wong

Originally published: October 31, 2018
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