Grappling In The Dark
“Depression is the inability to construct a future.”
Does anyone really know what to do with depression? When I fell into that darkness at age thirty, I had a doctor who immediately said, “Let’s put you on medication.” Certainly I was desperate, and I was sinking into a dark hole that I didn’t anticipate the depths that depression would take me to, so I downed the pills without much thought. The doctor did not mention therapy to me, so with my ignorance of depression I figured taking the tiny pill would be the cure all for my gloom. It wasn’t. In fact, it made my depression worse and all I could think about was killing myself and trying like hell to hang on. I fought my mind daily not to fall further but the fighting made me weaker. I lost a job and almost my life. Now, I’m not anti-medication if it helps, but I am an advocate for having a variety of coping strategies that are healthy. For me, meds brought more desperation and that’s simply part of my journey.
At this time in my life, shortly after exiting my twenties, I wrestled with thoughts, energy, existence, and self-worth for several months. The depression was becoming crippling. I once found myself driving in a daze. My mind was dark, in a fog, and I just drove. I’m not sure how I got there but I ended up in the bluffs two hours away. My intention was to drive my car off the sandstone peak and plummet to the bottom. That’s where I was anyhow, the bottom. When one hits bottom there are only two ways to go, up or dead.
Often, depression is looked at as having a rose-colored glasses outcome. Take a pill, talk to a therapist, and it will get better in six-weeks. However, depression and anxiety roll you in a wave that is difficult to swim out of. There will be scars. There will be turmoil and inner battles that fluctuate and creep up on you when you least expect it. It’s your own mind after all, that is causing this. It’s your thoughts that are the challenge, so it’s not so rosy. It’s scary as hell and that’s okay to admit! What your mind tells you to do to yourself, and what it tells you that you are, can rip your guts out and leave you feeling nothing. Feeling nothing at all is the worst part of depression. That’s when you are capable of no empathy for yourself. Numbness, I am told by many sufferers of depression and anxiety, is the worst part because it’s when you cut deeper and deeper into your mind without the ability to stop. The pain is tortuous and you want to pick your brain out of your skull with a fork. I hate the dreaded numbness.
Still, we are survivors. We are animals meant to thrive and move through the murkiness of life and continue to find a way. Then, why do some of us lose to the darkness? Do they give up or do they simply give in? Either one is appealing when the pain is so real that you feel like you are slipping too far into the shadows of mental illness and will eventually not come back either in body or mind. This is why I have taught myself to fight and embrace the pain. I’ve learned the art of blending. Welcome the suffering like a friend to dinner and hug it with enthusiasm, or slap it in the face with the same enthusiasm. You have to bring emotion to your mental illness because it helps take away the numbness. You need to love yourself. After all, the darkness is you. It is your pain that you must take care of because no one else will. No one will come to save you. Ultimately, you will need to find the strength to grapple in the dark.