My Depression Story: From Diagnosis to Recovery
A depression survivor narrates her journey - from the battles she fought to her long road to recovery.
(Trigger warning: The following piece contains mentions of self-harm, suicide, depression and mental health disorders. If you feel suicidal or know someone in distress, please reach out to them with kindness and call these numbers of local emergency services, helplines, and mental health NGOs)
In October 2016, I was diagnosed with chronic depression which eventually turned into bipolar. Since then, I have gained a much deeper insight on how society views and deals with these issues. I have also come to realise how my words affect the way people interact with me, and how they view me as a person. Some people understand it, some think it’s an attention call. My life took a turn and since then, I have been on regular medications and therapies.
Depression is one extreme to another. You’re either so high with happiness or so down that you doubt the world will have colour again.
Everyone will tell you that it will get better and you dream of when it will be. Some days I swear I could feel the sun radiating happiness through my body, and then other days I felt nothing and everything all at once. Depression is not easy nor is it a quick fix.
It's not that I didn't try. I tried but all I received from the world were stunted or negative responses due to lack of awareness and understanding.
I started keeping it to myself thereon which made everything worse. I felt isolated and like a misfit everywhere. My self-esteem dipped to an all-time low. I felt that people are ridiculing me or laughing at me among themselves. I wanted to hide away or become invisible.
The only few mechanisms that kept me going were journaling and music. I loved to listen to songs that I could relate to in my lows. I would try and pick people who are clean slates so I don’t feel judged. By sharing with them or helping them out, I’d get a sense of achievement that would lift me up.
There were innumerable days in a month when I would sulk in my bed refusing to wake up. I took my medicines and chose to lie in bed all day. However, I was still hopeful and waiting for the days that would be bright and cheerful. I had lived an incomplete life so far, but I still believed that everything was going to change for the better and that those dark clouds would eventually let the sun shine through.
From panic attacks to sudden blackouts to suicide attempts, I've been dealing with everything. My mood swings were disastrous and really unacceptable for everyone - from being the happiest child for one hour to a typical cry baby for the next.
It was just the start of the questions that kept swarming around me and hands pointing towards me – accusing me of being a coward who puts a tag called depression on meagre problems and so on.
I couldn’t answer everyone, but I managed to talk to my parents and gather little support from them. There were also a few friends who decided to stick with me during this phase, but I was not sure about how long they would stay.
I have spent my entire life for other people and I still don't know how to live for myself. I hate to think that there are people in this world who feel like their existence is an empty pit in which they'll be buried one day. That's how I felt. I still kept going though, I think purely out of spite at this point. Sometimes, I felt so terrible that I've gone back to hitting myself, pulling my hair and screaming.
But I kept going. I worked, I watched my TV shows, I took myself out when I had the money, visited people when they would be free. It feels like a horrible existence, but I despise the mental illness more than my life, and I was determined that the disease would not be the end of me.
Depression has torn my life apart, it has changed me in more ways than I could have ever have imagined. Depression is something that is part of me and part of who I am, it has brought me to my darkest moments but I have made it back.
I have learned more with this struggle than you could ever learn in any book. Every day I achieved something by living with this illness. I managed to study and live a productive life despite this illness and that’s an achievement.
Now, after more than four years, I feel like I'm fine and I've been advised not to be on anymore medications from tomorrow. Now, after four long years, I'll have no reminders named after my medicines. This is something more than beautiful.
Having acceptance of my mental illness means taking charge of my life and moving forward. This has played a big part in my recovery.
I started to have acceptance of my mental illness after giving myself credit for my strengths and weaknesses and accepting my limitations. Also, believing that I have something to offer to society and doing positive, healthy things in my life. I’ve been more than beautiful, I’ve been strong.
I've been dealing with something that kills people and that had almost killed me too. But I'm fine, and I believe that it's after four years that I look beautiful now. No, actually I looked beautiful even while I was a patient of this disease but I look more beautiful now. Yes, that's correct. I look so so beautiful now and I realise that I'm so strong for I've overcome something horrible and disastrous.
Explained: What is Depression?
I don't know how to thank myself, my parents, my friends and most importantly my psychiatrists and counsellors who've been able to help me have this rebirth. I'm more than just happy. I'm excited and I don't know how to express this happiness and how to pour it out. It's like now I really feel that blood mixed with happiness runs through my veins, which was earlier mixed with anxiety, stress, depression, fear and related things.
Seth Adam Smith is an advocate of suicide prevention and writes, "One day, you will stand at the summit of a figurative mountain and look back on your life's journey. And, to your utter amazement, you will see how your experiences with depression, dark and painful as they were, only added to the overall beauty of your life". And this is something so, so powerful.
(The author is a student, works for an Indian based mental health organization ‘Paperplanes’, and is a depression survivor who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(The views expressed above are the author’s own. FIT neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)
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