This was written on August 27, 2021, four months into a bipolar depressive episode. The point of this piece is to share a radical and raw first-hand account of living with a mental illness. 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year yet the stories we see are often only about the successes rather than the suffering.
Depression is still wildly misunderstood. It is a black hole. Your entire being is in pain. You’re 1,000 pounds. You can’t move. You don’t want to move. The notion of “want” completely disappears. Every minute is excruciating. You can feel the raw beat of time passing. Leaving.
Things you used to enjoy either become empty or painful. I haven’t listened to music in months. I used to listen to music all the time, it was one of my great joys in life. The last time I listened, random songs just made me cry. People tell me “just listen to music” but I can’t.
You think about making a final escape. Can that extension cord hold my weight? How many Xanax do I need to gulp? But death is too crude a cure so you just continue. Lay on a couch. Lay on the ground. It doesn’t matter. It’s 2 PM? Now it’s 6 PM? Should I go outside? What’s the point?
You’re trying to get better. You talk to doctors. You try the medicines they give you. Some of them make you pace around for days unable to sit still. Some of them feel like sugar pills. You talk to a therapist. They’re nice. Are they helping? You can’t really tell. You lay down.
All your thoughts are negative. They attack you day and night. You have random breakdowns. Crying fits on the kitchen floor. Your heart is crushed. Your soul is pulverized. All the light is gone. All the warmth is gone. You expect this to last forever unless you kill yourself.
You’re worthless. Nobody cares. You don’t care. There is no love or happiness on the horizon. There’s no horizon. You lay in bed for a week or more. Sleep provides some relief as long as your dreams don’t attack you too. You sleep as long as you can. The less time awake, the better.
Lifestyle changes don’t make much difference. Eating healthy, going on walks, getting sun feel like fighting a forest fire with a squirt gun. But part of you doesn’t want to get better. How you feel now is how you deserve to feel. How you’ll feel forever. There’s no good to gain.
I’ve had depressive periods since high school but I’m currently in my worst depression ever. I likely forgot a lot of details to paint the full picture of what I’ve dealt with this summer. Everyone’s experience is a little different. I’m no expert, I’m just some dude.
I don’t really have a conclusion or any advice or dictates for those struggling with depression or those with loved ones going through it. I just wanted to share my experience to help others better understand.