Let’s talk depression (3)
What’s it like to be depressed, how does it feel? Everybody’s experience is unique but this is how it is for me. It varies. Sometimes it feels I’m in quicksand and the harder I struggle the deeper I sink and all effort is futile. Other times it is like drowning in the fierce currents of life and desperately grabbing onto any passing debris. At times it is like being at the bottom of a deep pitch black well with the lid firmly shut. Sometimes I feel nothing, absolutely nothing at all.
It is the fact that everything feels such a chore, the simplest of task like getting out of bed, having a shower seem to take such will power as if I am running the marathon. It is as if your feet are stuck with superglue and it takes monumental effort to prise one foot off and then the other, leaving you wasted.
On top of that is an overwhelming sense of futility. What is the point? Of anything? Why get up at all? The meaninglessness of life. The trials and tribulations endured, what for? Why are we here at all? Every day is exactly the same; a struggle to stave off hunger, to answer the call of nature and battle insomnia and to persuade yourself to hang in there, to stay alive because maybe just maybe it will get better.
You don’t really believe it, you can’t imagine it ever being any different. You can’t enjoy anything, not even the stuff you used to. You don’t notice the sun is shining, that the daffodils herald Spring, that life is going on outside the prison of your mind. You don’t care.
You hibernate, isolate, burrow deep into your warm cosy safe duvet, refusing to tunnel out unless absolutely necessary when your body screams food and your bladder is full. You build a formidable fortress all around with a moat that even the closest people to you cannot scale. It feels secure; nobody can disturb or ask you awkward questions forcing you to face harsh reality but neither can you reach out and it kinda feels lonely. You feel unloved. You have friends but disappear off the radar; you don’t want to be a burden, you know you are bad company, you are sick of yourself, why would anyone want to spend time with depressed you?
I used to really hate the term ‘mental illness’ and that I was a sufferer because the word implied I was a nutter, crazy, mad, insane. I resented it cos I knew I wasn’t. Now I realise it means that depression is ‘all in the mind’, that is why it is a mental illness.
I decided to make a new life in Hong Kong because I wanted to leave the scene of the crime, there were too many painful memories that I couldn’t leave behind physically and mentally. Why HK? Well it was where my life began but more importantly I associate the city with happy memories. The three years of university followed by another three in the 80’s teaching English there were the happiest, most carefree of my life. I wanted to return and recapture those happy thoughts and rediscover that optimistic, sociable, innocent me. I remember loving and being loved. Friends, colleagues, pupils, my first boyfriend liking me for who I was. I was very popular. They appreciated my sense of humour, naive enthusiasm and openness. I was young, in my early twenties, beautiful, hopeful, the world was my oyster, I could be whatever I wanted to be.
Then I hadn’t suffered years of being put down and criticised; made to feel inadequate just wrong. Not good enough, that I did not belong, however hard I tried. I had not become a doormat, lost my voice, to keep the peace, for the sake of the family. I had yet to become a martyr, sacrificing my own needs, very own identity and scrimping and making do so that my husband could indulge in his ever changing expensive hobbies and that my child was not the poor kid on the block. In the end that man whom I love for 18 years evicted me without any notice from his heart, mind and life. Just like that.
Yet I have to take responsibility. I have learnt not to keep playing the victim. I allowed it to happen, the emotional abuse, the lack of respect, the being shut out, not listened to, the feelings disregarded and mocked. I sold into the romantic myth hook line and sinker and was prepared to pay the price however high. Losing your identity, very being is too high my friends. That’s why it took me so long to get over the divorce. No longer a wife I didn’t know what I was anymore, that was my role, identity and life. That family unit of 3 was my world. We were going to grow old together. That was the plan. But as you know plans are for fools. Life is what happens when we are busy looking the other way. I think Lennon said something along those lines.