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May8
2017

Letting Go of My Oldest Friend

By Nell Schreck

Depression caused my life to unravel right in front of my eyes. Unable to work, I had to give up my job; with that went my apartment and the friends I thought would be around for the long haul. But of all the things I’ve said goodbye to, the hardest thing to let go of has been the illness itself.

I’ve carried my depression with me for the better part of my life. It has seen me through every step of my growing up. When you spend over 20 years with someone or some thing, it becomes part of your life. As much as depression used me, I learned to use it too. Being sick became my coat of armor, the shield I wore to keep others at a safe distance. It was a protective bubble I used to keep myself from situations and experiences that had the potential to hurt me.

Over time, depression became more than an illness. In fact, it often felt like depression was my closest friend. This made moving on and trying to get better more complicated than it already was. In my attempt to fight my illness, I’ve had to mourn the loss of a very toxic best friend.

It seems like it should be easy to let something so harmful go. After all, it’s been the devil on my shoulder telling me I’m not enough, I’m not worthy of anything, I shouldn’t even bother. But after it beat me down, it comforted me, allowing me to cry, encouraging me to stay in bed and sleep. I never thought to get out—the illness did such a good job convincing me that how I was feeling was inevitable.

But there was a point when I finally realized that this was a dangerous relationship. I finally entered into treatment because I knew I had to get better. I knew if I didn’t part ways with this monster it would take my life.

For a while, I went through the motions. I showed up, took my medicine, and talked to my therapist. I was doing everything that I was capable of in that moment. I didn’t realize at the time that the reason I wasn’t able to give more was because the illness still had a strong hold on me, not allowing me to fully escape.

Finally, depression started to get the message. It’s tried many times to pull me back in, and it’s succeeded at times. But I’ve slowly started taking firmer steps away from it. I’ve started letting people in again. I’ve started exploring my interests and planning for a future. Most importantly, I’ve silenced the voice that tells me that I don’t deserve to be alive.

It hasn’t been easy saying goodbye to the thing that feels like my oldest friend, but I’m choosing to let go of the fear. I’m living my own life, on my own terms, with my own safety and health in mind. I’m making space for the things that I want and need, and I’m not saving a place for depression. Not anymore.

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Comments (7)

  1. Maura

    Nell, this really resonated with me. I wouldn’t call depression my friend, but it’s been my closest companion for 30 years. It’s been my shadow, my nemesis, my blanket, my cave, my trapdoor, my dungeon, my jailer. Unwelcome but familiar. And the sad thing is that the familiar is comforting even when the familiar is bad for us. Maybe it’s Stockholm Syndrome. The unfamiliar is scary. The light can feel too bright at times. Letting go into the familiar dark is sometimes a relief from the emotional intensity of being so awake. But like you, I am creating more distance day by day. Thank you for this.

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  2. Kem

    This is such a beautiful article. I thought I was the only one who felt this way. Thank you ❤

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  3. Erin Gaffney

    Thank you. Depression is the intimate enemy. Thank you for inspiring me to continue to fight it.

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  4. Tracy Perry

    At 60 I finally feel the same.

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    1. Tracy Perry

      Never did I think I was enough…when I was all along.bless you!!

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      1. Avis

        I’m 57 years old. Depression has been my constant companion most of my life. Sometimes I can take a step or two away from it, feel the light. Inevitably something happens and I’m right back to square one. I’m fighting for my life now, and not taking no for an answer. I deserve to live. And so do you, Tracy. All of us do.

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  5. Karli

    I may not have been with depression as long as you, but I still have had it since childhood. It feels good to know other people feel the same when trying to recover.

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