That’s me… The woman in the picture. She looks happy, doesn’t she? She looks like she’s got her shit together, doesn’t she? Look at that smile… look at the pretty hair and dress…
This is what depression looks like.
It is getting up and showing up when it feels like you are living underwater and every movement you make is met by resistance. It is the inability to even attempt to help yourself with positive thinking and meditation because even just lying there with your eyes closed and with your mind focused is still too much effort.
It is just sitting there breathing into the nothingness in your chest hoping the breath will somehow fill the void, fill the emptiness, lighten the heaviness. It is a fluttering heart and inconsolable anxiety over absolutely nothing.
It is trying to claw yourself out of a hole because the world is carrying on and you need to show up, you need to contribute, you need to convince yourself and everyone around you that you matter, even when your entire being resonates with thoughts about how you don’t.
It is knowing that you have so much to do, so much that you want to do but your body feels impossibly heavy and your mind feels like it is filled with cotton wool.
And you know it is not normal. But you cannot remember when you started to feel this way… you don’t even know what normal feels like.
It is sitting on the couch so full of nothing that you start to wonder what the point is of you even being on this earth… that you contemplate cutting yourself just to feel something… and the only thing stopping you from grasping that knife is the fact that there is no space on your body to inflict this ‘feel’ where your partner wouldn’t see… that wouldn’t make him ask questions.
I am a yoga teacher… I am a hippy… I am supposed to be balanced and grounded and whole and healed. I am supposed to not take pharmaceuticals and aspire to living a natural life. But what is the point of living a natural life if you have no desire to LIVE?
So, finally I caved and asked my doctor to prescribe me antidepressants. We started off with a low dose and the changes are nearly tangible. I have days, or perhaps moments, where I can feel what normal feels like. When the heaviness lifts and I feel like I am taking my first breath of fresh air after years in a stale, musty cave. And I was. My cave was called depression.
I felt like a failure. Because I am supposed to have control over my body, my mind and my emotions. I have all the tools, all the knowledge, and know just how powerful my mind can be. Because light and love, everybody- I am supposed to be able to heal myself… it is all in the mind, right?
It’s not. My depression is a symptom of an autoimmune disease. And even if it wasn’t, I am now learning that it is nothing to be ashamed of. I am starting to speak out about depression. To tell people that I have depression and how it has affected my life – something that I didn’t want to admit for a very long time.
Sometimes people are supportive. Sometimes people joke about it, asking if I’m a bit mad in the head… I say ‘yes’. Because no more running, no more hiding.
Often people say to me: ‘I would never have thought, you seem so happy and amazing and do such great work with your website, you help people’. I guess we just never know.
I guess we just never know just exactly what depression looks like.