I look pretty damn happy, don’t I? I learned a long time ago that a well-placed smile can hide a multitude of sins. We are taught not to question the smile. The smile is a warm and inviting sign that everything is ok. The smile is a lie.
On the clinical level, depression is a feeling of intense sadness often coupled with feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and helplessness. For those of us with it, depression is the ability to lie so well about how you really feel that some days even you start to believe your own bullshit. The longer you’ve been in the game, the better you are at exploiting it to create an illusion of stability.
Depression and I go way back. To pigtails and hopscotch. To fighting, flying household items, and a broken home. To lost innocence and unheard screams. Depression was there to remind me that the world is dark, cold, and unloving. To make me doubt joy and descend into sadness. Depression helped me see that the world wanted me to shut up and smile because everyone has problems. So I did. We all do. We close our mouths and swallow our tears. We make excuses for why our bodies can’t leave our beds. We choke on the words we wish to speak and the world around us turns in its blissful ignorance.
We get up every day and we fight with our minds. There are moments of respite, our medication takes off the edge, our therapist gives us a place to scream, the lemons stop flying so we can finally make a cocktail. We breathe in those moments and then as we exhale once more a hand emerges from the cloud that follows us. We try to evade it, the longer we fight the harder this becomes. We swear we’re ok as the fingers slowly tighten around our throats. We aren’t ok, though, and no amount of positive thinking or prayer fixes it.
One of the hardest lessons I've had to learn this year is that it’s ok to not be ok. Not everyone will support you when you come to terms with that. I strongly suggest cutting ties with people who want you to keep faking it for their comfort, but that's up to you. Either way, we have the right to say “I’m not ok” and take the steps needed to cope. Because there is no “getting back to normal” for us.
There is no “back to normal”, that’s a lie society sells so they can blame the fighter instead of addressing the illness. For me, always having a lingering sense of sadness and loneliness is normal. It’s why I am who I am. There is no other normal and I would rather embrace that than try to “fix it”. Much to my future ex-husband’s distaste, but I’m ok with that. Furthermore, I don’t believe I or anyone else with depression needs “fixing”. I believe we need love, compassion, and the freedom to not be ok.
There is more power in a simple "I’m here for you” than in Deepak Chopra level advice on how to handle the clusterfuck that is life. As much as people mean well, sometimes the best thing anyone can do is shut the fuck up and hold someone’s hand. So shut up, take someone’s hand and know that we aren’t ok, and that’s ok.
“There’s a lot of things you need to get across this universe. Warp drive… wormhole refractors… You know the thing you need most of all? You need a hand to hold.” - The Doctor
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