We need to talk about depression. Why not start with mine?
For two years I couldn’t find the pleasure in doing one of the things that I enjoyed the most. I lost count of the times I put a pillow behind my back and made myself comfortable with a laptop on my lap, only to shut it down soon thereafter because I could barely write a sentence. I tried to write with new and old notebooks, with fancy pens. I tried in the evenings and in the mornings. I used candles and music. I tried at home and in cafés, while travelling or in random places. I even went on a winter retreat on an island to spend four days totally dedicated to writing.
Yet nothing would come out.
Every time I closed my notebook or shut down my laptop, I would curl up in the fetal position and close my eyes, tears coming out with no mercy. No matter how hard I tried to wipe out my emotions, they would always find a way to escape.
Today I know I spent two years facing blank pages because I was trying to let out a soul that my depression had emptied.
My depression was like getting stuck in traffic. I was there against my will. I was running out of fresh air. Everything was blurry. My thoughts and feelings were crossing and running around, and I didn’t even know if they were mine or someone else’s.
I would face my wardrobe, unable to decide what to wear. I would spend hours searching for entertaining things to do, only to become exhausted and eventually give up. I cried for no apparent reason.
There were intense psychosomatic episodes that brought me to the doctor – even to emergency services – with palpitations and numbness that I could locate in my body but not in my mind. There were so many weekends at home because it was so much easier to stay in than to go out and pretend.
And yet I gained some clarity from those situations. I saw my sadness, my emptiness, and my apathy. I felt the distress of not being able to articulate what was going on inside me, of not being understood, of feeling ungrateful and useless. I realized how all of that was wrapped up in a shiny paper called guilt, which only made everything worse.
I saw it all: tiredness, apathy, sadness, and emptiness.
I felt it all too, especially the guilt.
Thankfully, in the absence of my writings, I spent endless hours reading. In the midst of my struggle, I was pleased to find a “me too” world.
It was a global, virtual community.
Scientific articles explained to me that all of this was depression.
Strangers convinced me that I could get through this.
And guess what? They were right. I did.
I’m writing this because I can write again, and now I want to help others. To those who are reading this from the other side, please know that you can get through this. You can get past the exhaustion and the apathy and the sadness and the emptiness. You won’t have to live with the guilt forever.
You can get through this. You will get through this.
I know because I could and I did.
I am writing again. This is my proof. This is my evidence that this isn’t the end for you.
So if you are stuck in your own soul like I once was: You can do this.
You can get to a place where everything is OK.
Debora writes on mental illness and other stigmatized health conditions in English and Portuguese on mindthehealth.org.