Familiarity in Despair: Your Toxic Life Partner, Depression

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It hurts you: physically, emotionally, mentally. It drains you. It keeps you on edge.

Depression challenges your sense of self worth, sometimes eliminates it. It makes you certain that you are not enough.

You walk on eggshells around it, hoping not to trigger it. You’re trying to keep it happy.

Others, understandably, compassionately, want you to just leave it. To get help. To put yourself and your well-being first.

You can’t reason with it. Theres little to no negotiation and you can’t prove it wrong. Depression has made up its mind and it’s taking you down with it. You’ve begged before, but it hasn’t listened. You’ve cried endlessly and it hasn’t wavered; in fact, depression makes you feel weak for feeling that low, that lost, that helpless. It kicks you when you’re down.

But you stay with it. It’s not really by choice (chemicals, heredity, situations, trauma; it’s a disease). But nevertheless, you can’t leave.

Somehow, the misery, the anxiety, the depths of hell you traffic through feel comfortable. Not comfortable like a cozy blanket, but comfortable in its predictability. Comfortable because you recognize the landscape, the grayness, the blur. Comfortable because once you’ve been convinced that you’re worthless, you think you deserve this.

Depression has become part of your identity. It coexists with your other partner, anxiety, and they work together to remind you that you belong in this pit.

You’ve learned, at times, to smile through it. You know the burden it puts on others, the worry that it causes. The solutions hurled at you feel tiresome, repetitive, old. It’s not that easy, echoes in your brain.

Everything feels glacial in its pace.

But sometimes, that pace feels better than pushing through. That is, if you can even remember what pushing through resembles when the fog feels immeasurably weighty.

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Depression took your energy, too. It has drugged you, slowed you, made you more vulnerable.

You’ve drugged it back in retaliation. Slapped it with Celexa. Klonapinned it to the wall. CBD-ed it at times, too. Like painting over a dark wall without primer, it’s still there. You can still see it, even if an attempt was made to dull it.

You guys went to therapy together. Promises were made. Strategies were taught. You even kept a journal.

And when you do see some light, when a laugh escapes your lips, your rose-colored glasses settle onto the bridge of your nose and you say: we’ve worked through it, we’re okay, it was just a bad week.

Depression didn’t really mean to hurt you. Depression loves you and only did that to you because you forced it to. Look what you made it do.

And besides, it finally released you.

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But even when you’ve survived another night of depression’s seemingly drunken attacks, you’re a little more broken than the last time. Possibly a little less equipped to manage or to resist.

It has convinced you that even the brightest spot is tinted with the threatening awareness that the light cannot last and you’ll be back in depression’s arms before you can practice a single coping skill.

It’s familiar. Intimate, even. Like the prick of a tattoo needle, sure, it hurts, but after 3000 sticks per minute, you’re kind of used to it by now.

Editorial Note: I encourage readers to take this as an in-the-moment reflection of the feelings depression can cause, rather than as an always-present, irreversible hopelessness . It was deliberately written at a low point in an effort to capture the personal reality of the disorder to someone who has never felt it.

Individuals in need of mental health support should continue to seek it; this is a free write is intended to describe sometimes fleeting, sometimes stagnant sentiments of hopelessness associated with an incredibly complicated mental health disorder.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1–800–273–8255

The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. You can also visit their website or you can find additional information and resources through the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention through their website or Twitter account, @afspnational.

Subject to review.