I grew up in a world where I was never enough. That world was my world, my mind. I have early memories of throwing tantrums because my drawings weren't as good as my sister's. Last month I came across a letter I had handwritten to my parents. Apparently I had let myself down that day and went on to write about all the terrible things I would do to myself. It's funny now, but where does a five-year-old come off exhibiting signs of learned self-hatred? Was it learned? Or was it cultivated by unfortunate wiring in my brain? Either way it made for perfect breeding ground for my first hit of depression.
Like so many others I was first diagnosed with depression in high school. I came across this magazine article called “The Happy Pill”. I tore the article out and kept it, all the while hoping that a pill like this existed. Not long after my mom had a sit-down with me. She told me about these things called antidepressants. I went on them, and about a year later I went off of them.
Enter second year of university. This was when the fog slowly started to creep over again. I didn't want to leave my dorm room. Feelings of guilt, inadequacy and deep, deep sorrow would arise - sometimes for no apparent reason. It wasn't long before my father's loving voice came over the phone begging me to come home. To be treated.
For anyone who is thinking of going on antidepressants, it's important to accumulate information from all kinds of sources, and then make a decision from there. This was my experience: The antidepressants did not make me happy, but they helped me feel not sad. They took away the sadness so to speak. Exhaustion was also a thing. On a regular day I could take a 13 hour nap, wake up and go for round two. This is ultimately why I stopped using them. It's been four months without them now. The first few months of weaning off of them were challenging for two different reasons. One: the withdrawals were hell. Two: learning to feel again felt like something from a soap opera. I would watch dancers on YouTube and cry from love and appreciation. I would feel jealousy and anger for the first time in a long time. But at some point after experiencing any of those emotions, be it negative or positive, I would inevitably cry. I would cry out of gratitude that I could feel. I had forgotten what it felt like to feel, and I truly believed that the spark I had in me, the fire that made me, me, had fizzled out. Ringing in my ears carrying me throughout my days the phrase: "I'm back".
Just recently I went to see my doctor. She said if you suffer from depression one time, you are more likely to fall into depression a second time. She actually gave me a statistic, but I don't remember the number because all I could think of was the next statistic she gave me. If you relapse for a third time, you are 100% likely to get depression at a later time in your life.
I am so grateful for medicine. I am so grateful that we live in a world where there is help. With that said, I have adopted the understanding that I have to help myself. I'm looking deep into the roots of why I don't feel I'm enough. I've taken to mindfulness, exercising for a healthy dose of endorphins, and meditation. I don't have the answers, and I still don't know whether this is my hardwiring, or nurture has caused me to be like this. But for the first time in forever I'm grateful. People that are prone to depression have extrasensory abilities. We're the great artists of the world, the intuitives, the deep thinkers, the whole-hearted feelers. In four years time I might look back on this and think, "what was I talking about?" But this is my reality, and this is my reality now. I'll spare you the closing one liner that promises or preaches, and let that be that.