Depression is a very difficult thing to explain to people who don’t have it; partly because it’s different for everyone, but also because it describes an absence rather than a sensation. A common misconception is that depression is simply ‘feeling blue all the time’. It’s not, although it often leads to being down more often, and more severely. Williams said it best when he called it the “lower power”, the little voice inside that sees a bottle of Jack Daniels and goes “hey, just a taste”. In 2006, he described it to ABC News: “You’re standing at a precipice and you look down, there’s a voice and it’s a little quiet voice, that goes: ‘Jump’”.
He was right. Depression is not a feeling, of sadness or anything else; it is the sickly white glow of a laptop screen in the middle of the day. It is the hideous, blissful buzzing that fills the brain when hours of relentless scrolling through Facebook posts, Twitter feeds, news articles — something, anything — finally do their job and you slip into a waking trance, a self-administered anaesthetic. It is the telltale reek of a room that has been lived in too long; the hothouse fug of old sweat and unwashed sheets, and plates of food beside the bed. It is the grinning desperation behind the sixth beer. It is a sickly pressure under your ribcage that you can touch with your hands and feel the contours of, like an organ gone bad.
If the condition itself is difficult to describe, the effects are often all too tangible. Nine months ago, when I first walked into a doctor’s office and admitted I have depression, I was a wreck. I had been on a steady downward spiral for about three or four years that, on paper, reads like a mid-life crisis come twenty years too early. I had failed around a year’s worth of university subjects, lost two jobs, and almost gone bankrupt. I would spend weeks at a time not leaving the house and, as far as was possible, my room. I would often go days without changing clothes, or having a shower, or brushing my teeth. I retreated from my parents and my friends, and invented elaborate stories to hide my circumstances from them.” Read more
I think it is incredibly sad that it take a famous actor to die for the world to suddenly reawaken to the damage of depression. People so often glance over the idea, they nod and agree when it’s brought up in a discussion, but people are often reluctant to acknowledge the existence and the impact depression has. I was one of those people, and even when I was spiralling down faster than I knew how to process I refused to accept the thought that I could be depressed.
I made excuses.
I avoided the thoughts and blamed anyone and everyone I could.
I ran away from the oppressive darkness that forever loomed at the back of my mind.
And I lost all of the people in my life.
I failed three semesters of uni.
I cheated on boyfriends.
I didn’t care.
I couldn’t care. I was numb inside. I could see life pass me by, watch the colours fade to greys and let everything rot and decay around me, without really accepting it was happening. It’s been a slowly downwards descending cycle where I’ve dug myself into a hole then scrabbled to stay grasping at the edges. It got to the point where getting out of bed in the morning was more than a struggle it was a genuine quest through a prickly fairytale forest. It’s like when you’re drunk but you don’t want to be drunk but your too drunk to do anything about it and just keep stumbling around and messing things up even though you know you don’t want to be there. It’s destroyed me. And it frustrates me.
I didn’t want to admit to my parents or my friends that I thought I might be depressed I was terrified that they would judge me, shun me, and treat me like I was going to break at the drop of a hat. I let this fear fuel my spiral and when everything came crashing down I tried more than once to let go.
I over dosed.
More than once.
And after every painful reawakening I was glad of the painful breathes I was struggling to pull in.
I’m admitting this here. Because I fear what will happen still if I admit it to those closer to me.
I love them, and I fear telling them will tear them apart.