My family doesn't discuss feelings, and depression has always really considered more of a character weakness than an actual problem. If you felt like you were "depressed", it was either you being dramatic or you needing to suck it up and just stop feeling that way. So, I learned very young how to hide the fact that I felt off. In fact, until my late twenties, I didn't even acknowledge the fact that I might be depressed because I told myself I was stronger than that. It wasn't until I dated someone who had depression, told me I had all the signs, and then asked if I wanted to go see his therapist that I thought I might have something wrong with me. Of course, at the time I took great offense that he would eveninsinuate I might be depressed. I was too tough for that. He was a good guy (even if we were wrong for each other in many ways), but I sabotaged that relationship pretty quickly after that suggestion. That was almost 10 years ago, and I haven't been able to bring myself to date ever since.
I think there are many aspects of depression that are pretty well known: general low self-esteem, anxiety, sadness, loneliness, and low motivation. One thing a lot of people don't talk about is the boredom. Seems innocuous, but for me this is the most insidious symptom. I am rarely not bored. Nothing holds my interest. I just don't care. The things that I do tend to still enjoy seem to be escapist-type interests: TV and movies, reading, video games and occasionally drawing. But above all those, what I like to do is drink. Things seem actually interesting. I can sometimes bring myself to leave my apartment and interact with other people. And if nothing else, I can put myself to sleep. When I am intoxicated, I feel like a better version of myself. A fun, outgoing version. I know I drink too much, and I'm shortening my life and probably ruining my health, but since I feel pretty miserable most of the time, I don't care.
Another thing that has always bothered me is how people say that suicide is something that only cowards do; that it's selfish. Maybe it is selfish, but so is asking someone to continue regardless of whatever they may be suffering. Not that I really expect people to endorse it as a treatment option for depression, but it seems like it should be pretty understandable why people might do it. For me, suicide isn't something I agonize over; I don't wail about it when I am at my lowest. In fact, suicide is more of a comforting thought. In a weird way I might even say it helps me. I know that no matter how low I am, I have a way out. I have known for years how I will do it. Going over the plan is a comforting ritual. Whatever happens, I'm ready. I can't do it right now though, because of what most people would think a silly reason. I have two cats, and I couldn't bear the thought of them suffering because I abandoned them. Between social anxiety and just lack of interest in participating in the world, I have pulled a slow fade from anyone who might notice I was missing in any decent amount of time. It might be possible my landlord might notice in the beginning of the month if I failed to pay rent, but I still feel the risk to my cats is too high. However, it's still soothing to have that plan in the back of my mind.
This turned out far more long and rambling than I expect, so feel free to edit out anything if you wish to use any of this. To be honest, even if nothing comes of it, it was nice to just type out some things I've never actually said aloud before.
Image via Two Guys and Guy.