Stories on Depression: I Used to Have Depression, But Now I’m Just Depressed
Depression doesn’t go away just because you say so
I’ve suffered from depression since before I knew there was a name for it. Throw in a heaping helping of anxiety and a sprinkle of panic attacks, and you have my life since the first day of kindergarten.
By my calculations, I enjoyed the first four-and-a-half years of my life without incident before the mental illness settled into my brain.
Throughout elementary school, I was prone to crying jags. I would have long, protracted bouts of tears, the kind that comes with screaming, gasping, heaving hyperventilation fits that disturb the other children, as well as the schoolteacher, and the principal down the hall.
I had a vague sense that I wasn’t like the other kids, but I didn’t know what any of it meant.
There was a constant pounding in my head and a tingling numbness that originated in the center of my chest and rolled through my body until it consumed me from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. My mouth ran dry. My fingers were frozen nubs that couldn’t hold a pencil. I couldn’t see through the tears constantly welling up in my eyes, and I didn’t know why.
I still don’t know if it was normal — or what normal means anyhow, but I get the sense that the other kids didn’t feel the same way. I know they didn’t act the same way. Don’t get me wrong they had their own problems.
One boy broke his leg jumping off the roof of the elementary school during recess. Another boy defecated in his pants and refused to admit it until the smell gave him away. There were fights in the courtyard every day after school with plans whispered throughout the day. Do you have my back? Do you have my back?
I never had anyone’s back, not even my own. My days were spent with my head down, trying not to be noticed trying to ignore the constant ache in my chest and belly telling me that anything was better than this.
Although I haven’t officially been diagnosed with depression, I was officially diagnosed with an anxiety disorder a few years ago. My general practitioner approved a therapist, and my employer paid the bill.
The best advice my therapist ever gave me was this: “If doing something makes you depressed or anxious, then don’t do it.” I’ve quit friends, jobs, and lovers thanks to that advice.
Unfortunately, there are some things you just can’t quit: certain family members, paying the bills, rolling out of bed in the morning.
There are times when you have to keep moving. There are prescriptions that need to be picked up from the pharmacy. If you don’t pay the electricity bill, you’re going to be eating junk by candlelight. If you don’t get out of bed and get to work, you won’t be able to pay for the junk, either.
This is life. I used to have depression, but now I’m just depressed. I used to drink wine and cut thin lines into the back of my hand with a razor blade. Now I eat KFC and binge watch television shows on Netflix.
Same depression, different day. Different day, different coping mechanism. It’s all the same. Not even the names have changed.
Here’s the only thing that has changed:
As a child, I was sure I was the only one who felt whatever it was that I was feeling. As an adult, I know that so many people suffer exactly the same way I do.
I am sorry for your struggle but please know that you are not alone.
Story by Anonnymous
Every Friday, we share and talk about depression among unemployed young people! Share your story with us via email@example.com