I’m not going to pretend to fully understand depression. I’ve written about it a little bit before. I know that it’s something that was always lurking in the shadows, something that, for years, I chose to ignore. For years, I chose to be happy while also being fully aware that depression was a mere step away, something that I could fall into too easily if I wasn’t careful. I knew that people with OCD frequently have depression. I knew that chronic pain often ended up paired with depression. I knew, on some level, that I’d always have to deal with it, but I believed that I could continue, indefinitely, to hold it off.
Every time it crept closer and tried to get a foothold, I refused to let it, and I was always really proud of myself for that. There was so much I couldn’t control—OCD, the constant physical pain, etc.—and being able to control depression felt really good.
But last summer, I lost ground to depression for the first time. I had a couple of really hard months and spent all of my time sleeping. But I was able to pull myself out of it and though that was the end of it.
Ever since, though, it has gotten harder to avoid it. That fall was my first semester of graduate school, and it was really rough. I struggled to keep up with everything. That October, my boyfriend (of 6 years) and I broke up, and I hit the lowest point of my adult life. The pain seemed unbearable and the hole I’d fallen into insurmountable.
I sat in that place for a few months, but eventually made my way out of the hole. In the meantime, OCD and anxiety were becoming increasingly easier to deal with. And when I realized I’d survived the trauma of my life being torn apart, I began to feel a lot better—stronger, more capable.
And I still feel strong sometimes. Intellectually, I know that I can survive all of the low points. I have learned that I’m made of tougher stuff than I realized before.
But I wasn’t able to fully get away from depression this time. Even though I got to a really positive place a few months ago, I’m still depressed. Some days are fine, but some days are really bad. Sometimes the bad is for no reason. Sometimes things that I feel shouldn’t faze me do so much more.
It’s been another really difficult summer, and the people who were my crutches before when I needed it aren’t around anymore, which has only contributed to the difficulty. I miss these people a lot. A whole, whole lot. I don’t know how to navigate this space without them.
Sad was never a super frequent emotion for me. I’ve never been a crier, not even as a little kid. I’ve always brushed that stuff off quickly and moved on. I’m used to happy and angry; I can work with those. Both allow me to get things done. Both motivate forward motion.
I’m trying to learn how just to be sad and be okay with it and keep pushing forward, but I haven’t figured it out yet. I’m trying to get used to crying. How do you stay awake when your entire body wants to sleep 16 hours a day? How do you maintain a healthy diet when every meal is an exercise in force feeding for lack of appetite? How do you function?