I was not depressed.
I couldn’t be.
I had never self-harmed. I had never ideated on suicide until recently. I wasn’t like the people I saw on TV or in movies or in books who were depressed. People I knew with bad depression sought treatment when they engaged in destructive activities or couldn’t get out of bed in the morning or function on a day-to-day basis. I did everything with my whole heart — and depression always seemed to me to be like an all-over weight, impossible to live with. I gave someone my whole heart every day. I was happy. A great life, a brilliant partner, an amazing son and living a life of my dreams. I couldn’t be seriously depressed.
I wasn’t like that.
The first lie depression told me was that I didn’t have depression.
Because I could get up in the morning, because I could take a shower and make myself look human, because I could sit down in my office at home and put in a day’s worth of work, because I could follow the routine day in and day out, my depression told me it wasn’t a big deal that I’d spend all my free time sleeping.
Depression lied about it being relaxing, recovering and restful. Working takes a lot of energy. It wasn’t an avoidance tactic or an unhealthy coping mechanism.
Going through the performance of each day drained me, but it was ignoring depression that really wore me out.
The second lie depression told me was that things were OK if I maintained control.
By watching my food intake and making sure I ate only the healthiest meals and trying new things like juicing, I would pull through my temporary seasonal blues. If I added in a few minutes of mind relaxation techniques when I felt really bad, I could relax and avoid the unpleasant thoughts.
But being restrictive negatively impacted my physical and mental health. Insisting on controlling every aspect of my life denied me peace and balance, and it made the depression worse — which is exactly what depression wants.
The third lie depression told me was that I wasn’t good enough.
I wasn’t a good enough partner.
I wasn’t a good lover.
I wasn’t a good enough friend.
I wasn’t a good enough father.
I wasn’t a good enough son.
I wasn’t a good enough brother.
The critical things people said to me or about me, the mean things they wrote — those were the truest parts of who I was. The niceties, the compliments and the solid, unwavering support of those who always had my back were all instances of temporary kindness. I was and could only be an obligation.
Depression told me people I knew loved and cared about me didn’t. That the things I thought were true and safe were anything but, and I needed to try harder to be better or retreat all together. The crushing insecurity depression wrought upon my thinking led to out-of-character behaviour and the need for constant reassurance from those to whom I was closest.
The insecurity also led to building up giant walls and demanding space from others who cared about and sometimes needed me to be there. At times, the insecurity depression gave me meant doing both things in tandem: demanding reassurance while not offering the same back. Or worse, believing those reassurances were just there so that I would offer something back, even though I believed I had nothing worth offering to anyone.
The fourth lie depression told me was that I didn’t suffer from anxiety.
I didn’t have real problems. I had a beautiful girlfriend. I had an amazing son. I had a house. Some friends. A job. A family. Real anxiety involved trauma. Real anxiety involved fears outside of the things that I had complete and utter control over (because I could control everything, remember?).
Depression told me the anxieties I had were all made up, even as it fuelled the feelings and demanded behaviour that exacerbated my feelings.
The truth is that anxiety fuelled the depression that lied to me. Depression thrived off my low-grade anxieties, helping them grow, which in turn made my depression worse. For me, depression and anxiety weave together like a strand of DNA. They twist around and around and around, rooted and connected to one another.
The fifth lie depression told me was that it wasn’t “bad enough.”
Depression told me getting out of bed in the morning meant I was functioning. That turning in work on time — sometimes really great work that showcased my sharpest thinking skills — meant I didn’t have miserable, self-flagellating, relentless thoughts circulating through my head. Depression told me my restless sleeping at night was fine, even restorative, rather than part of a dangerous cycle. Depression told me near-constant exhaustion came from pushing myself too hard on projects I’d taken on, not from being up half the night because I couldn’t shut off the voices or thoughts. Because I wasn’t eating enough and I was working too much.
Depression doesn’t present one specific way. It doesn’t feel one specific way. It doesn’t function one specific way. But it will insist that it does, encouraging you with lie after lie after lie to explain away very real signs and symptoms of its existence, which only causes more pain and hurt.
Finally being able to untangle those lies and turn them into the truth of the situation — that I suffered from depression — was like discovering a whole new, different world: a healthier world where I did not have to be my depression, and my depression did not have to be me.
The first truth I told depression was that it existed, but it did not define me. I’m sorry to those that I hurt x