I first experienced what could be classified as depression when I was a young child. I remember a time when I was staying with relatives and ended up shutting myself away in a bedroom during the day, just lying still on the bed, shut down and not wanting to do anything else for hours. From there, the depressive state would inevitably progress through my teen years and in to early adulthood, finally with it becoming paraylzing in my early 20’s. Since then, for the most part I’m generally one degree under, while having varying degrees of depressive states lasting from a few days to weeks on end. There have certainly been exceptions and highlights where I genuinely felt free from the depression, yet it has been my prominent state of being for a large part of my time in this world.
You can look at a check list of “symptoms” on various medical websites, you can go to have yourself analyzed by a regular Psychiatrist, but in my experience this tells you little about the source of the condition and only really helps in describing and identitfying some of the experiences that have generally shown up from living with it. Having been down the Psychiatric route, taking different drugs, spending time in hospitals, reading more on/associated with mental health in general and from interactions with others struggling with the mental health, my position on the matter is that I do not believe it to be an illness, but a state of the human condition with as many causes as there are unique individuals.
However, what I’m looking to focus on here is the depression experience itself and why I feel it essential for it to be completely considered and understood to begin with if a person is to be helped to come to a better state of wellbeing.
Typically, the onset of a deep depression for myself normally starts with irritibility, anger and frustration in anything I happen to be doing (usually when a trigger comes to mind). Then my world closes down around me and the hell starts to manifest. It’s like being in a plastic bag, where the top was once opened, but then it suddenly gets clenched together and tied up, leaving you with little air to breath. At this point, everything loses it’s value, it’s comfort or anything that would be pleasing. All that’s left are the various ways in which the mental and emotional body can torture me. Most notably, vivid memories which highlight particular emoitonal traumas.
The memories tend to be associated with the triggers that I have. It can be essential to know your triggers, as it can be a key in limiting your exposure to them or to safely overcome them. For example, I have a trigger connected to rejection. If I were to put myself in a situation where there was a strong likelihood of harsh rejection, chances are I would come tumbling down like a house of bricks that has just had the foundation knocked out from underneath it. Depending on whether that situation hits more than one trigger, it can pro-long the torment and the sensation of a dagger piercing the heart can accompany the crashing feeling.
Once the memories have surved their purpose, then my imagination can turn to different ways of self-anhillation. Picturing my demise is just a way of acting out and serves only to pass the time and express the torment (I personally don’t feel anyone wants to kill themselves when they’re in the darkest depths of despair, it’s just that the person feels it’s the only possible way they could be free at that particular point. All death is, is the promise and hope of freedom and it’s the freedom that’s desired.)
At some point or another, the irritation, anger and frustration can return. Especially if it means doing anything related to keeping myself alive, like having something to eat or drinking enough water.
When I sink further, I can get insomnia when I want to sleep, or if I do sleep it’s short lived. This reinforces the hell, because the only way to be free at that point is to sleep, so I’m denied the only solace I receive and it feels more like being condemned.
There are a few ways I tend to be brought out of the state.
1) I weather the storms long enough to be brought back up to a calm state where I can function again. Eventually the energy behind this all dissipates, and there is peace for however long it lasts.
2) I find the company of someone very specific so I can communicate and work through what is currently coming up in thought from the experience. This is pretty much a theraputic kind of relationship, where someone is capable enough to tackle this with me.
3) An event outside myself takes place that has some profound meaning to me and intiatiates a shift. This is more rare, but it certainly happens at the most unexpected of times.
In discovering all of this about myself, it’s made the journey into the depths acceptable and given me the strength to become more resilient to it. There have been points where the depression has completely lifted and there still continue to be those points. It’s only when the exploration is complete and the correct amount of knowledge and wisdom gained, that there will be liberation from it for good.
It’s the exploration which is key and why it’s important for professionals who are assigned to help us, to understand what is taking place and why, with the emphasis being on the individual whose experiencing it. The exploration allows for progression (of which there has been considerable from when it first started for myself) for a person to manage their hell to the point where it can be escaped without anything other than human contact to assist. The answers to our problems are contained within all of us, and what we are entitled to have as human beings, is the chance to discover them and utilise them so that we can be our own saviours. Having that power taken away from us and put in someone elses hands only serves to weaken us and make us susceptible to being controlled and manipulated.
We are much more powerful than we’re often led to believe and fully capable of overcoming the difficulties of the human condition by our own means.