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How I Wage War Against Depression

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Today was a bad day, one of the hardest I’ve had in months. I woke up buried under the deepest depression I’ve experienced in nearly a year. And I can’t blame it on seasonal depression this time – which in a way is a blessing. I know the trigger, and that gives me some degree of power, control, and the ability to exercise authority over the situation.

Even then, it took me three hours just to get out of bed. It took another 45 minutes to get dressed. Those first three hours were spent fighting the war inside my own head. I wanted so badly to hide from the pain, but at the same time I knew I needed to face it, lean into it, push it away.

And I pushed – for everything I was worth. I did it slowly because that’s all I could manage. But I pushed with the inevitability of gravity. Eventually, the pain had to give way, make a place for me. And it did. I’m stronger now than I was a year ago, made of sterner stuff. But being stronger doesn’t mean I no longer have bad days. It just means I don’t accept the fate these days of pain and depression try to impose on me. It means I don’t just give up. I don’t concede. I refuse to be beaten.

So what if it takes me three hours to get out of bed? So what if it takes most of another to get dressed? The point is that, ultimately, I did get up. I put my feet on the floor. I put clothes on my body. I took my medication, ate breakfast, had my coffee.

And by that point, I felt a little better, enough to keep going and push further into my day. I had momentum now. And the day hasn’t been a total loss. I’ve gotten some things done, trivial though they may be. Baby steps. A series of tiny victories. That’s how you win a war against an enemy like depression. It’s that one day, that one small shuffle-step forward, that next gasp of air breathed in between tears falling off your face. It’s whatever it takes to get from this moment to the next. To most people, just drawing breath is insignificant, the most mundane of bodily tasks so trivial and unnoticed that it’s relegated to an unconscious, autonomous process inside our bodies. For me, at times, just one inhalation is a mountain of battles fought, an entire war unto itself – fought and won in the space of a single heartbeat.

I fight.
I breathe.
I live.

This is war, and today I rose – victorious. This demon may sink its claws into the fabric of my mind, but it will never take me down. That bastard can rot in hell before I give in to it. This is my fight, and my war cry is simple:

“I win.”

Originally published: July 5, 2019
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