I can’t pinpoint exactly when you showed up, but I can sense your presence.
My close friends and family have long suspected that it was you who was causing my emotional turmoil, but like anyone fighting against your grasp, I was slow to realize and admit. You drape blankets of fear and self-doubt over my eyes, impairing my judgment and making it difficult for me to see much of anything.
You’ve changed my interactions with everyone in my life. I’ve pushed friends away, stopped answering my phone, backed out on plans, and have gone days without talking to anyone.
You make me cry for hours with no end in sight, which results in my body becoming physically ill. Vomiting, pounding headache, and body aches often accompany these episodes.
You cause my husband to stare at me with sad puppy dog eyes, longing to catch a glimpse of the woman he married. He feels scared, worried, and helpless because he realizes he doesn’t have the power to fix me.
You make me look in the mirror and see the reflection of a stranger. I don’t recognize this woman staring back at me. Her eyes are empty, her face is bare and her hair is dirty. The motivation to wear makeup and look presentable has vanished.
You amplify my emotions. Anger, sadness, heartbreak, fright, and anxiety are heightened, and I’m powerless, succumbing to their effects. I’m unable to describe my feelings or manage the way I express them.
You put thoughts in my mind that I would be ashamed to admit. Those thoughts scare me and I can’t control them.
You cause everyday activities and simple tasks to be riddled with stress and anxiety.
You took away my appetite. Never in my life have I gone days without eating or drinking until you showed up. Losing weight this way isn’t healthy, though it’s hard to complain about my new pants size.
You make me vulnerable. My walls have crumbled, and I have no protection.
You place burdens on my heart that I’m not equipped to handle. The weight is heavier than I can carry.
You lie to me. You tell me I’m weak. You tell me I will fail. You tell me I’m not good enough. You tell me I can’t be happy. You tell me it’s impossible to overcome your existence.
You make me not want to leave my house. Being in the company of people who appear to be happy only magnifies my own unhappiness. I’m forced to wear a mask and pretend everything is okay, and that’s exhausting.
You suck all the fun from my life, the enjoyment from activities I once loved and my purpose for living. You’ve dampened my bubbly, fun-loving personality and replaced it with an emptiness that exudes hopelessness, hurt, and sadness.
It’s more than the medical definition or the list of symptoms.
It’s what depression FEELS like.
It feels as if I’m slowly drowning and constantly fighting with all my strength to catch a breath of oxygen. It’s the everyday struggle that needs recognition and understanding. Depression affects everyone differently and my experience might look different than yours, but it doesn’t make it any less real or any less debilitating.
I was forced to confront you a couple months ago after a frightening experience that brought many overwhelming emotions and fears to the surface. Coming to terms with depression hasn’t been easy. Every day is different; some are good, and some are not-so-good.
Nonetheless, I’m coming for you.
With support and treatment from my doctor, I’m taking my life back.
It’s time for me to stop pretending and stop hiding… and start embracing. I refuse to let you win this battle. In case you didn’t know, I’m a fighter. Your control over my life ends now.
To my husband, my parents, and my closest friends: Thank you for seeing the light shining through the cracks of my brokenness, loving me when I was the most unlovable, and carrying me when I was unable to walk. Your support means more to me than I can express.