I learned to live with depression as if it was always there

September 22, 2021

Trigger Warning: depression, body image 

text: Malina Malina

illustration: Beatrice Pura

A twelve-year-old girl who listened to rock music, was chubby and liked art ... nothing

wrong with that right? … well, in the eyes of the kids I grew up with, I was a freak. Thus began the sadness, the self-loathing. I constantly asked myself why I am alive and how I can change... because maybe, if I were like the others, I would love myself and be happy.

Spoiler alert: the change did nothing but make me lose a part of myself.

I could give you an extensive list of all the insults I received, all the bad things that happened to me, all the rude comments that I still remember; but I won't do it, it won't help me or you. Instead, I'm going to tell you about how I felt, so please join me as I tell my story, and maybe in the end you'll realize you're not alone (sounds like a cliché, I know, but I've come to realize that it's true) … It gets better!

One summer, one damn summer, that's all it took for me to fall into this black hole, as I like to call it. My dad was disappointed in me that summer (it doesn't matter why now) and that thing broke me... Dad meant so much to me during that time. My whole heart was shattered and I just wanted to disappear from the face of the earth. I cried myself to sleep while listening to music that summer (and several to come), I couldn't smile, I barely had the strength to get out of bed; I became the ghost of what I used to be. I didn't want to go out with people, I didn't want to leave my room, I just wanted to stay in bed and maybe watch a TV show. I wanted to forget… to forget that I existed, to forget all the things that pushed me into this void… but I never did…

Instead, I ended up with depression...very funny, life. Very funny.

With each passing day I started to feel more and more empty inside, I didn't like the things I used to like anymore, I didn't want people to see me, I didn't even want to see myself. I started wearing baggy clothes, I always wore my hair down to cover my face, I became so quiet, I started wearing black because all the other colors annoyed me...it seemed like my life had no color, it was just black and white . Nothing made sense, how could I speak so little when there were so many thoughts in my mind... A storm of them.. And surely they hit me like lightning. How could I change so much without anyone noticing. How could I cry so much without anyone hearing... Maybe they didn't want to hear... But I wanted them to.

But someone noticed; not who I expected.. But it still meant the world to me. Because of those people my life had a bit of color, I smiled, I felt happy. I felt so relieved that the worst thing in my life was gone. I thought my time in that black hole was over; and for a little while it was. But then, it came back like a tornado and swept me off my feet. I was so disappointed, I felt so angry at myself and everything I was feeling. I kept asking myself "why me?" .. But please don't ever ask the question, you'll drive yourself crazy trying to figure out why and you won't even get an answer. There is no right answer, just as there is no good or bad reason to feel this way. It doesn't matter why you got depressed, the truth is that knowing why doesn't make it go away, it doesn't make it any easier, it makes you even more frustrated, because now you know why you feel that way, but you can't stop those feelings. The only correct answer is keep on going.

I found the things I liked and wrote them down in my notes, then I forced myself to do those things. I tricked myself into thinking that the moment I did those things I would feel happy. And after a while it happened and it felt so good. I used artistic means to enjoy myself, I sang, wrote poems and songs, drew, painted, did origami, put on make-up; I expressed all those terrible feelings and my world started to have color again...but this time it was permanent. No matter how many times this mood came and went, I always had a bit of color.. It wasn't so bad anymore.

With time I got used to it, it became a part of me, I still felt bad, but it became normal for me. I learned to live with depression as if it was always there, so when the waves of sadness hit me, I wasn't surprised anymore.. But I was left with a bitter taste. I had so much anger at first, I wanted other people to feel every moment of pain I felt, I wanted to wake up in someone else's body, I wanted to destroy everything around me; but now I feel so calm, I don't have all those intrusive thoughts anymore, it doesn't seem so awful.

 Now I make jokes about it because I've been in so much pain and become so comfortable with depression that I thought 'hey, I've got this thing and it's not going away anytime soon, I might as well make it fun for me" . It's such pure irony to make fun of the thing that makes you feel so terrible, but it's helped me so much. I reduced this thing that seemed to be taking over my life to something so insignificant that I made jokes about it. It was my way of standing in the face of depression and saying "you can't beat me, I'm stronger than you!"

Is self-deprecating humor healthy? No, probably not; but I wanted progress, not perfection.

It still hurts.. I'm in that black hole right now, again, but I know it will pass. I have to believe that everything is going to be ok, because if I can't do this, if I can't believe that I'm going to be ok, then who else will?… There's so much peace in knowing that you've been through this and that you can do it again. I want to tell the twelve-year-old girl that there is nothing wrong with her, she doesn't have to change, she doesn't have to remember all those horrible words that were said to her. He just had to accept it. I was different, not broken... and somehow I managed to get lost while trying to "solve" myself. Accept yourself, you're fine the way you are, it's not worth driving yourself crazy thinking otherwise.

In the end I'll leave you with these words that my friend said, which moved me.

You aren't a victim. You are a hero.

You are your own hero!

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