Breaking the Surface
Being depressed is akin to walking underwater. Or lying at the bottom of a pool. Silent, dark if it’s deep enough, otherworldly like time slowed down as you watch the world and life go on without you from your watery grave.
That’s how the past ten years have really been for me, to varying degrees. Sometimes I floated closer to the surface, sometimes I sank ever deeper down below, but always, always, I was submerged in a darkness of despair, of sadness, devoid of hope.
I don’t think it happened suddenly. I actually think it was a gradual creeping, so slowly that I barely even noticed, but one day pretty recently, I woke up, and I didn’t feel like I was just counting down the days to die. I’m not saying I woke up flooded with hope and excitement or feeling like I had something amazing to look forward to in life, but there was a calm and most notably, and absence of the cloud of deep sadness that usually envelopes me.
I’m so cautious about saying I’ve “healed” from the events of the past ten years, but only because I’m a little afraid that if I celebrate too soon, this calm I feel won’t last and will all be snatched away again.
That said, I think I’m finally finding my footing, and can begin the process of rebuilding my life, bit by tiny bit.
No one really talks about how much you neglect yourself when you’re battling depression, self loathing, and have no will to live. I can’t even start to count how many days I didn’t shower, refused to look in the mirror, or the sum total of the years I’ve shied away from the world and hovered just above the baseline for existence.
I can’t remember the last time I bought new clothes that weren’t for job interviews. I can’t remember the last time I was at a party, or even saw people in real life besides my own family. Life isn’t life when nothing makes you happy. I can’t remember the last time I wrote in my journal, or drew, and I think I tried to update this blog, but even that was such a struggle, it’s languished. I don’t hate that I’ve completely forgotten what it feels like to be happy. I’m too tired to hate anything or anyone.
Regret is a less active emotion, but I don’t really regret anything either, except perhaps punishing myself for so many years because I blamed myself for the actions of people who were much older than me and should have treated me better. I regret neglecting myself. I regret torturing myself every time I looked in the mirror, listening to the voices of all the people who told me I was ugly, I was unloveable, I was worthless and unwanted, and that nobody would ever choose me, want me, or love me.
I’m nowhere near not believing those things about myself anymore. Every time I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, all the self loathing comes flooding back, but mentally I’ve reached a point where I now understand that these are other people’s assumptions or summaries, or dismissals of me, not necessarily proclamations about my life, especially about my future that are written in stone. More than anything, I now know very clearly, what I do not want in my life, what I don’t want to have to live with or endure, and what I’m never going to tolerate again.
Caring for myself is so hard because I haven’t done it in years. Yesterday, I applied lotion to my feet, and I marveled at how soft they were. That’s how new making an effort seems to me after ten years of falling down a bottomless pit. I forgot what it felt like to have soft skin. I forgot I used to have the softest, most gorgeous, flawless skin. My seventeen year old self would walk right past me on the street and not recognize me, and sometimes I wonder if I ever was that beautiful, happy, sunny person.
I’d like to believe I can be her again.
Even if it sounds unbelievable to me.
I’m trying to try.