In addition to my other numerous acquaintances, I have one more intimate confidant…. My depression is the most faithful mistress I have known – no wonder, then, that I return the love.
– Soren Kierkegaard
It is a demon always looking over my shoulder or standing in between my life and me. It is dark and mysterious and the scariest thing I’ve ever encountered. I am in constant fear of being consumed by it and that is a rational fear because it has certainly consumed large quantities of my life and energy and spirit. Not only does it steal your life while you’re living it, it affects your ability to be able to remember your past. When it is present things literally look, smell, and sound different. What is this monster forever lurking in the shadows? My depression.
In moments of strength I realize that my depression cannot do anything to me that I do not allow. But when I am sliding down a steep slope into complete despair that is not how it feels. For most of my life I have felt completely controlled by clinical depression. It has been both a shadowy monster constantly hovering over me and a comforting friend who is always there; I have let it define me for most of my life. It has been a burden to me and those who love me but I was never quite able to shake it and chase away that monster. I have been on medication and off medication, in therapy and out of therapy and still it bedevils me. Sometimes it is content to watch me from afar and I can feel its eyes on me. Other times it inhabits my soul and rearranges my thoughts. And, oddly, at times its presence comforts me.
It is insidious and has affected every aspect of my life. It has threatened my ability to work and certainly forced all the joy out of my life. It is an illness that affects not only the person suffering from it, but also the people who love her. I am thankful that my parents were so supportive but there is only so much other people can do. I have suffered from depression since I was a little girl and it has stolen large chunks of my life.
I often look back on the little girl who I was and mourn for her. Instead of waking each morning, eager to explore the world, I would linger in bed trying to summon the desire to face the day that lay ahead. Even as a child I dreaded every day that I was alive. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been depressed. When I was little I didn’t have words for it, but as I look back I can recognize it for what it was. Although I did not have a name for it, I definitely saw the world through a curtain of gray.
(This is an excerpt from my book, A Life Less Lived. I am happy to say that this is just the beginning of my story.)