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A searing look at how depression feels inside that will make you re-think all the advice we give a depressed person, to try and cheer up.
Every self help book, every wise person you have ever met, and every one of your friends will tell you to be yourself; be you; the fiercest you that you can muster.
They are right. However, no one talks about the cost of being yourself in an ‘other’ world. This world is divided, yet so united in its hatred of the unconventional, the pure, the ‘other’ to them. Being you means you have to stand strong and always be prepared for unwanted pushes and shoves that are trying to show you your place. Your place is exactly where you are standing, yet they seem to believe you don’t belong there. They seem to know that you are doing something you are not supposed to be doing. Don’t listen to them.
I don’t really know where I belong or who I belong with. I don’t know who I am most days. Most days, I wake up with a panic attack, tired, with dry heaving and terrified of starting my day. I start my day anyway.
Most days, I am just a person with intense and extreme thoughts and feelings, walking about in a body that barely contains my heart. Most days, I am a good friend, a helping hand, a listening ear, a cooing sound. Most days, I am an automated human of the society that expects me to earn my keep and keep my sanity. Most days, I don’t know the difference between one day and another, a beginning and an end, friends and lovers.
All of those days, I know I am alone in a bright corner of my head, knowing no one else would feel the way I feel. I know my mental illnesses are not unique; I share symptoms with millions of people.
The fact that I am an empath is also not unheard of; I know a few myself. What is so unique is that my feelings are being felt by me and not those millions of people who share a common illness or similar traumas. Remember, your emotions are valid because you are feeling them. If they exist, they need to be addressed, simply because nothing that exists should be denied acknowledgement.
The journey of life through the lens of a mentally ill individual is not archetypal. Sometimes, everything is clear and I mean everything! Sometimes, I can feel every particle of dust and every breath that another human takes near me. I am aware of my surroundings and of people. I can understand them, feel them, and I can reciprocate emotions. I am a bundle of emotions and perceptions and deductions.
Mundane, ordinary things that have been a part of my life seem like complete anomalies. I know exactly what I should be feeling and how I should be reacting, so my body reacts and I smile or laugh or contort my face in shock. I don’t feel. My mind is a foggy maze of ‘what the fuck is happening?’ and ‘how did I get this cup of coffee in my hand?’ and ‘Whoa, my body is orgasming while my mind is placing puzzle bits of lust and love in search for the heart that’s not in it’.
Being hyper aware and dissociation are both part of my life. Being depressed enough to not want to live and being manic enough so that my brain can’t take all the stimulus are both part of my life. I am alive and dead and so much more. This isn’t a phase I can kick, a disease I can conquer, a battle I can win. This is me, my life and what I make of it. What do I do? I wake up in the morning anyway.
Being different in an indifferent world would have been easier than being in this one. When you have a lot of love to give and do not necessarily feel like confining yourself to one person, one feeling, one body for the rest of your life, you become hyper aware of the others, the ones who are perfectly fine with the way things are, the way things have always been.
When you love people for the sake of themselves and not what is in their pants, you sense what joy indifference would bring. Indifference does not breed contempt or violence like our world does. Simple life choices become targets of debate, violence, violation of autonomy and free will, and just a spectacle that no one enjoys but everyone is a part of.
Who we love, who we give ourselves to or to how many people, should be a simple choice to make, not one we have to be warriors for. We shouldn’t have to wake up everyday and put on our armours and be keyboard ready with our arsenal of qualified judgements and right things on our side. We are exhausted specimens of erroneous judgments made for centuries by people too afraid of change.
We need to catch our breath. It is hard to be a ball of feelings and hurt and feeling disconnected from most humans, and still sit at a desktop, wondering if you have the time to be sad. I do not know how to schedule sadness, or a panic attack, or dissociation. I don’t know how to tell my bills to fuck off. I don’t know how to listen to others telling me how to live either. So, living isn’t the same as being alive. Sometimes, the coexistence of those things is the hardest to fight for. The scars are not the same, neither are the rewards. Why do I keep going? I don’t know any other way.
I have stopped before, been on the precipice of ending everything that makes me suffer the way I do. I will be again. I know this. I can always feel the gnawing sound of an end of bliss following me around. It’s okay to be weak and broken sometimes. It’s okay to cry, rant, sleep all day and binge. You don’t have to be stoic or strong or brave all the time. The world that rejects you, doesn’t deserve your bravery in the face of debilitating hurt. Take your time and come out of it.
Some days are better than most. Some days, smiles come easy, so do kisses. Some days, every bone in your body experiences a smell and it takes you back to times that have been good to you. Some days, your fingers are intertwined. Some days, your hair looks great. Some days, it’s worth it.
Header image is a still from the movie Dear Zindagi
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What a beautifully rendered plea to be allowed to be yourself in a society that is insensitive to the beauty of the vast and varied human condition. So honest and strong. Not just for young women but for all women who are fighting to find their place in this world.
In Pictures: What Depression Feels Like Inside, Even If I Don’t ‘Appear’ Depressed
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Thriving Through Depression: This Is My Story
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