WhiteFlag Outreach Coordinator
When people think of someone with depression, a few “basic” symptoms come to mind. Crying all the time. Suicidal thoughts. Loss of interest in things. Sleeping all the time. Not sleeping at all. But, depression is SO much more than that. No one really talks about what a depressive episode can look like; no one talks about what goes on behind closed doors.
I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder in my teens. Family members have seen a glimpse of my lows, roommates have seen extremely dark days, but not a lot of people have seen, or likely haven’t even realized, what really happens when I'm in a dark place.
So, I’m going to take you through a week with me. A week with my depression. A week of a dark, dark, depressive episode.
I physically could not get out of bed until after 12pm. I got up once to go to the bathroom, and even that felt exhausting. I was alone in my dark, quiet room and even my blackout curtains didn’t seem dark enough. I finally peeled myself out of bed, let my roommate's dog out, got a little air and sunshine, and went right back into my bed. No task seems doable. As 4pm rolled around, I realized I still haven’t eaten. I still haven't brushed my teeth.
You might be reading this and thinking to yourself, “Wow, this girl seems so lazy. Get up, shower, brush your teeth, make a meal, and start your day. What is the problem?”
The problem is, I had no desire. No desire to accomplish anything. I had no sense of urgency. Even though I knew accomplishing something would make me feel a sense of purpose, that dark cloud overpowered me today. That dark cloud won.
Oh, what a hard day. Harder than yesterday. Much harder. I woke up crying. What was I crying about? I have absolutely no idea. I completed a task today, though. I did a load of laundry. Did I put it away and fold it? No, but… it’s something. I’m still wearing the same clothes I was yesterday, and have not showered. Again, the dark room isn’t dark enough for me so I’m laying under my covers.
Hours later, I have manically bought so many things from Amazon. I can’t stop.
Again, I’m sure you’re reading this and not understanding how I can be so lazy. Imagine how tired of this I am? I can’t complete a full load of laundry without it literally taking every little thing out of me.
I feel like I was born broken. I felt this depressive episode coming on, and I still couldn’t stop it. I still couldn’t shake it. I’m going to bed laying on the pile of clean laundry I just did‒unfolded.
Mid week. I’m almost through it, right? Today was a better day. I showered, brushed my teeth, accomplished some things for work, but stayed in bed for the majority of the day.
My bed is my safe haven. It’s my safe space. It’s where I can cry in silence and curl up with my blanket in the dark. It’s where I can lay with my cat and just cry to him. He doesn’t understand why his mom is in bed all the time and won’t play with him. Yet, he stays with me. He lays on my chest and licks away the tears from my eyes. He has truly saved me.
Suddenly, looking at my cat, as silly as that sounds, I had a burst of energy and a sense of urgency to do better today than I did yesterday. That is weird for me to say because I didn’t even want today to come. Yet, here’s to progress.
I folded the laundry I slept on. Baby steps. I made my bed. Major progress. Then, I sat outside on my balcony just to get my thoughts out. I cried, I laughed at the neighbor’s dog who was running around, and I had hope that tomorrow will be a better day.
My eyes are almost swollen shut from all the crying. My hair is an absolute disaster and my skin is so dry and looks like a mess. I have forgotten to take my medication every day this week. Not just my anti-depressant, all of my medication. I have not returned phone calls or answered texts that desperately needed a response. It's too exhausting. It’s too draining.
When I’m in this depressive episode, every single task is difficult. Usually, I can put on a happy face and fake my way through it. This time? No chance. I can’t answer phone calls and pretend to laugh or engage in a conversation I'm so disconnected from. I mean, I could, but I just don’t want to anymore. It is so much easier to just isolate myself from everything other than my reality right now. And my reality is shitty. So shitty. It is a headspace I wouldn’t want my worst enemy to be in. When I am up with my insomnia and my intrusive thoughts, all I can think about is not waking up the next day.
This is now the 4th day I’ve ordered food delivery because I have not wanted to leave my apartment. Some days, it is twice a day. But hey, at least I’m eating, right? That’s progress.
Woo-hoo! It’s almost the weekend. JOY! I can’t wait to bail on all the plans I’ve made before this depressive episode started. I can’t wait to feel like I let my friends down. I can’t wait to ignore calls and texts. My phone has been on Do Not Disturb all week, and even my emails and other notifications are building up on my phone. (I have OCD, so any notifications really mess with my disorder), yet, here we are — notifications everywhere.
I moved from my bed to the couch today. I let the blinds stay open. It’s 73 and sunny today. I let the sunshine hit my face from the couch, yet could not find enough energy to go outside to enjoy it. I can’t see the floor of my room. I have water bottles, shoes, and more dirty clothes, since I was only able to complete one load of laundry instead of the other three I needed to do, all over the floor. You can’t even see the carpet. There’s clean clothes everywhere from me trying to put on an outfit to feel a sense of accomplishment, only to have it ripped from me because I hated what I looked like. I couldn’t even recognize myself in the mirror. I am completely disconnected from myself, from my friends, and my job. The only thing I am connected with is my depression.
This depressive episode didn’t just last five days. I’m still in it. I'm still self isolating, I am now under-eating instead of overeating, my blackout curtains are still shut from the outside, I feel like my work is subpar, and taking a shower is as much of a task as I can do in a day.
People who don’t have depression will never truly understand what a depressive episode feels like. I will come across as lazy, full of excuses, and disgusting to people who haven’t been through it. Trust me, the thoughts you're thinking of me after reading this are not nearly as bad as the thoughts I have about myself.
I wish I could just snap my fingers and get out of this episode. I wish I could be productive every day like ‘normal’ people. I wish I could be a better friend. I wish I could take care of myself like I know I probably deserve. I am crying writing this blog because I so desperately want to feel better. This isn’t fun for me. This isn’t something I do for attention. This isn’t something I can ever really control — and that’s the most frustrating part. I want to be better. I want to feel better. I want to take care of myself. I want to overcome my depression.
While what I have talked about in this blog post might be a shock to some, it also might be a trigger to others. If you are reading this, please know that I’ve been there. I get it. I understand.
We aren’t alone in this. Though it is much easier during these tough times to isolate from people, I challenge you to talk to someone. Finding someone else who knows what it's like to stay in bed for days can help you realize that you are not alone in these depressive episodes. Your thoughts and feelings are valid. You are valid. Download the WhiteFlag App today and talk it through with someone who knows what it's like to be where you are.
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