When you picture someone living with depression, the image that is conjured up is someone sleeping or staring mindlessly at the television all day. They don’t work, they don’t go school, they just do nothing all day.
While that is the experience of someone else living with depression, that is not my experience. From the outside, I don’t look or sound like I have depression. I look like and live like any functioning adult. I have a steady job and a steady income; my social calendar on the weekends is often full. But the fact is that the black dog, as Winston Churchill spoke of so tellingly, is an unwanted fixture in my life.
I was diagnosed with dysthymia when I was in my late 20’s. I saw my first therapist when I was about 12. Since then, I’ve had about a half a dozen therapists (my present therapist included) and I’m taking an anti-depressant to help to manage my depression.
The black dog is forever with me. When I’ve had a good day, it reminds me of my shortcomings, both perceived and real. When I’ve had a bad day, it is like a perpetual rain cloud that continually hangs over my head. It exhausts me to no end, if my depression had its way, I would be sleeping most of the day. It says that I am not good enough, that my life is not worth living. Some days it feels like I am wearing a mask to hide my true feelings.
What they don’t see is the constant barrage of negative thoughts that are always with me. They don’t see the energy it takes to get up in the morning to get to work on time. They don’t see the bags under my eyes and feel the overwhelming exhaustion that I feel daily. They don’t hear the voices in my head telling me to kill myself. They don’t see the unshed tears that I sometimes have to fight tooth and nail to keep from spilling down my cheeks.
I’ve been through a lot in my nearly 37 years, I have much to be proud of. But at the same time, the depression tells me that it is not enough and will never be enough.