Imagine waking up and not being able to get out of bed.
Not because you can’t feel your legs or something (although, I do know what that is like too). Rather, it’s because your feet feel like they weigh a million pounds, and it feels like walking to the bathroom is going to take all of your energy. So you don’t shower, you just lay in bed longer.
Soon it’s two, or three o’clock in the afternoon and you still haven’t gotten up to go brush your teeth and you’re starting to smell because you haven’t showered yet. You realize that you are pitiful in this state so you get up and finally take a shower, and then you realize that no one has texted you to ask you if you want to hang out all morning. So you just climb right back in bed, without any clothes on and lay there a few more hours.
Not because you wanted to, but because everything else felt like too much work. Suddenly it’s six o’clock and you have done nothing all day, and hardly eaten anything and you decide that none of your friends must like you because no one has bothered to reach out to you (as if they would know that you were feeling this way).
After several days of this, you decide it’s too much work to go to class anymore or to do your homework. It’s too much effort to walk to the cafeteria and get food. It’s too much effort to put clothes on. It’s too much effort to say hi to someone.
So you hibernate. You isolate yourself from everyone who loves you, because you’re not even sure if you love yourself. You stay there for days, weeks, months maybe even. You miss out on friends birthdays, on social events, and on coffee runs.
Nothing provides any emotional response anymore, so you watch mindless shows on Netflix and sleep all day. For a while it feels good, to be a hermit.
Until one day it doesn’t.
That is when the tears come. Everything makes you sad, because you realized how pitiful you have been acting. Or, you see a picture of puppies and wish that you could hug something that fluffy. This is the part where instead of feeling only your own issues and responsibilities, you suddenly feel the weight of the worlds issues on your shoulders and it makes you sad all day long.
Suddenly, instead of having no emotion towards anything, every emotion is a sad one. Every reaction comes out in tears.
And then, one day your feet feel five pounds lighter for some reason so you decide to put on real clothes and walk outside. You fake a smile for an hour, but by the time you go inside you discover that your smile isn’t as fake as it was at the beginning.
After that, your feet feel lighter every day until one day they’re not heavy anymore.
And then, you somehow rejoin society and catch up with the friends you’ve missed the past couple months and tell everyone how much you love them and think they are a star. You become the most encouraging person you know.
And that is when you know you are starting to beat it.
This, is my depression.
It manifests itself differently for everyone, but for me it is isolationist. Sometimes I go out in public when I am depressed, but I am a great actress. Usually, I wallow in self-pity by myself in my room and let everything get messy around me because I have no motivation to keep my life clean.
It is dark, and it is a weary road to walk alone.
And, the moment I allow myself to reach out and say “help” the better off I am.
But, I don’t usually have the strength to do that because I am too embarrassed by the state of my life, and I don’t want to admit that I have let it go too far.
This is why I need friends. I need friends who will look at me and say “let’s hang out.” I need friends who will ask me how I am doing, and not expect me to be happy or pretend like I’m okay. I need friends to invite me places, even if they know I’ll probably say no because my depression/anxiety combo keeps me from saying yes. I need friends to come sit beside me when I don’t feel like I can get out of bed.
But mostly, I need friends because they help pull me out of the darkness. No one can ever make it through life on their own. Neither can I make it through without the help of those who love me.
Depression is not easy, but it does not have to rule your life.
And if you are the friend, don’t be afraid to reach out and say “hi” even if you don’t hear a “hi” back for months.