I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Anxiety three years ago, although I am certain that the disorders have plagued me for much longer. Try as I may, I find it extremely difficult not to fall into the pit of cynicism. Moreover, I find it unfortunate how ignorant many people are in the realm of mental health.
Of course, every person is different. Some things that I find frustrating might be helpful to others under similar circumstances. I shall address three major things that have been personally frustrating to me. I have put together quotes from highly intelligent and well-intentioned people. I highlight the fact that they have good intentions because chances are, those who are truly malicious and ill-willed will not bother to take note of this and try to filter what they say, if they manage to even get past the first paragraph. I am taking advantage of this opportunity to explain to those who truly care what depression feels like for me. Please excuse the extreme cynicism and bear with me!
“It will be okay.”
Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. Do you know everything about my life? Do you know how many times in my past I have been looking to the future hopefully, only to be bitterly disappointed? Can you look into my future and honestly tell me that it will be okay?
After a recent relapse of my depressive episodes, I thought the worst was over. From now on, it could only go uphill, right? I felt hopeful, clear-headed, and ready to face the lemons that life threw at me. That same day, my dog, as dear to me as any other family member or close friend, had a heart attack and left this world forever. Nah, life didn’t just throw lemons at me. It squeezed lemon juice into my fresh wounds.
Maybe it will get better eventually, but relying on such a murky and uncertain possibilities will not change how I feel now.
“You know, this is all happening because of your cognitive errors.”
No duh. Would you tell a cancer victim that their condition occurred to them because of physiological errors? Obviously! Depression is a mental disease, and the sooner people accept that, the less people will judge each other for things that they might not completely understand.
EVERYONE has cognitive errors to a certain extent. Everyone is flawed, and everyone makes mistakes. What is a cognitive “error” anyways? Is it a cognitive property that tends to make us unhappy? Stop treating it like it is something we erroneously planned out. Being depressed is just an extreme chemical imbalance in the brain. It’s not always under our control.
“You need to stop being so sensitive. Be strong.”
Let me tell you something. Depression HURTS. It’s not a passing worry that stings for a second, and starts to ease. It’s not something that can be easily brushed off. It is a pang. It is physically painful. Imagine your chest sandwiched between two extremely heavy and powerful magnets of opposite poles. It bears down on your heart, and wears it down.
Have you ever had one of those nightmares where you fall down flat on the ground, and people walk all over and trample you as you futilely struggle to lift yourself? You raise your head with every ounce of willpower you own, and open your mouth to say something, but alas! Someone’s polished black boot slams against your lips, crushing your nose inwards and and pushing your mutilated face back down on the concrete floor.
You want to cry out for help, but no one can hear you. And then finally you see a familiar face. “That sucks. Sorry,” they manage, and inch away from you. Because who wants to be affected by such negativity? Better to surround yourself with those who make you happy. They run far, far, away, looking back at first with pity, but finally deciding to distance themselves. They favor the company of those who will make them smile, laugh, and forget about the piteous creature writhing in pain on the floor who can only bring them down.
Depression is a headache, heartache, and stomach ache. Even the smallest of things – a friend laughing at your foolish actions, considering you an amusingly clueless and stupid individual or a parent closing their bedroom door, forging a physical wooden block of distance from you – makes your stomach twist with uneasiness. It is as if there are a few big, slimy tuna fish living in your guts, and any time someone does something that disappoints you, they start colliding against your walls furiously, trying to escape. Your stomach is such an inhospitable environment that even the most repulsive of creatures want to abandon you.
So, yes, it would be helpful if I were stronger and less sensitive. But it is not something than I can change so easily.
On a hopeful note, I am planning to make some drastic changes in my life. Will it work out for the better? Who knows. I can’t control how the world reacts to my decisions. I can only hope.