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.

There are 11 comments

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  1. Zaene

    Baby steps…you’ll get there…then you’ll look back on all of this and realize you’re much stronger for it. God loves you and is always rooting for you, even when it doesn’t feel like it.

  2. Dave

    Hang in there girl. I haven’t been through half of what you did but I have at several times been in that ‘watery grave’, watching life and earthlings drift by; no anger, no excitement about anything… It will pass. God’s love, not religion, the truly unconditional love, helped me. I saw it watching moms and toddlers playing, daddies doing all they could to save their kids, all on random YouTube videos.

  3. Vic Chinoo

    Out of the ashes of pain and depression, we rise. From a place so far from here, rooted in untold struggles, we rise! Dear, you will rise to blossom like morning flower, glowing against the rays of the sun and blooming like a tree planted on the riverside. Keep trying. You will overcome. You are fearfully and wonderfully made!

  4. Buki

    I stumbled on you for the first time today and I’ve spent the entire day reading your articles and stories over several years. I’m intrigued and full of admiration for you and I really can’t believe you’re struggling with depression… even though I’ve been there but not endured anything close to what you have… I’m surprised because I find you incredibly talented, witty, open and strong. You were created to be a writer, not everyone is blessed with that gift and you need to begin to channel it.

    Your experiences and pain are not meant to break you, but make you look deep within and find strength and joy and a reason to live despite it all and despite them. I once read that the biggest form of revenge is success… not that you really need to revenge, but you need to prove to yourself and yes the rest of the world that you are heavenly blessed with talent and you can and will succeed.

    Find your muse, your strength, your happiness, whatever fuels you to make art… you can try Jesus, He’s absolutely totally awesome, doesn’t condemn or judge, heals wounds and keeps on loving…. find what drives you and begin to write. Please look for Francine Rivers book ‘Redeeming love’, its a fabulous read.

    JK Rowling must have been in a dark lonely place like you feel now and she made magic with her imagination. Rhonda Rhimes is doing incredible work and Africa could use some exceptional brilliant writing.

    I believe in your future and I would stake to produce your first movie when you have the screen play or even the synopsis…

    To your incredibly brilliant future and to true love that you deserve!

  5. Dee

    Your 17 year old self was gorgeous. Tall, dark, beautiful limbs with this gracious gait. You didn’t see it then and I’m sure you’re unchanged and still as beautiful but you still dont see it now.

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