I have always associated depression with darkness. It reminds me of my grandparents’ old Zenith television with the turn dial and the on/off button. The button is pushed and the picture fades to a pinpoint and ultimately to black.
Depression leaves you vulnerable to the weight of the world crushing all rational thoughts and hope. I first was diagnosed with depression in my 20s. I had been struggling with a wide variety of symptoms from crying to total rage when a doctor suggested that I may be depressed. I heard “crazy” and decided to take my rage elsewhere.
Naturally, the symptoms only got worse and by the next doctor visit I was a mess. It felt like my vision was darkened. I couldn’t see anything through the shade that had been pulled over my eyes. I was existing with a huge weight on my chest, just dragging it around.
Somehow, I managed to function, keep my job and, miraculously, my marriage but I couldn’t foresee a future and I didn’t know how to be happy. Thankfully suicide never crossed my mind, but I did have the feeling of giving up.
I finally saw a doctor that explained to me that this feeling that I had wasn’t crazy or self-induced sadness. It was a chemical imbalance and with medication I could be happy. Good old serotonin, or in my case, the lack thereof. I took my medication and rallied, and with a little self-help and determination I was able to rise above.
I think of those who were not so lucky. I’m sure many reading this column knew me back then and probably had no idea I struggled with my mental health. At the time I was running a busy restaurant, had recently gotten married, and could suck it up better than anyone I knew.
For me depression is always there. In the quiet and without warning, sometimes the darkness tries to creep back in, and if I’m not prepared, I’ll fall right back down the rabbit hole. It’s been years since I have taken medication for depression. I struggle from time to time to keep it together and can recognize stress versus a mental health crisis.
Depression doesn’t look the same in everyone and it often goes unnoticed, and that’s why I’m telling you about my experience. If you are struggling with the darkness or you aren’t even sure what it is, call someone, tell someone. If someone you love is dealing with depression, don’t take their ability to “keep it together” as a cue to believe that they will be alright. Life is hard, and we’ve got to watch out for each other. We can’t afford to lose another to the darkness.