Updated: Apr 24, 2020
A Dance With Darkness
Depression. Depression is a term that if not all, most people have grown familiar with. It is something that easily rolls off the tongue and hides in the deepest corners of the mind. It is a heavy cloak that settles on your shoulders and weighs you down, suffocating you. It is a parasite that latches on and consumes from the inside-out. Most of all, depression is the darkness from within.
Picture depression like the oleander flower. On the outside this flower looks harmless, beautiful even. With its vibrant pink colour and fragrant smell, no unsuspecting stranger would ever think it dangerous, much less fatal. However, if you look closer and acquire some insight on the plant, you’ll see that every single part of this attractive flower is extremely poisonous. Depression comes disguised like this flower, and its compelling force often takes over many people by surprise.
What makes it so powerful though? Well, it all starts from the inside, the core. The human mind is arguably one of the most dangerous weapons in existence. It has the ability to conjure up wars, new technologies, cures, and so much more. The mind is limitless and filled with vast complexities and ideas, so when your mind turns on you, it is indeed, very perilous. There is no escape from your own mind, and fighting your thoughts takes quite the toll on a person.
Fighting against your mind is fighting against yourself, and if it gets too violent, it will tear you apart. That is why survivors of depression are some of the strongest people on the planet, because they have fought against that darkness and lived to tell the tale. People who struggle with depression are not weak or cowards. They are sick, plagued with the disease that takes away all the light of the world, and at one dark point in my life, I was one of the ill.
For as long as I could remember, I was an outsider. I was quiet and reserved and didn’t have that many friends growing up. I was usually left out of things and found myself often alone. This led to me spending a lot of time with my thoughts. At first I blamed the people who had rejected me, but as I grew older I would ask myself, “Why am I not good enough for them?” I looked for the problems I had, and when I found them, they blossomed into my insecurities. These insecurities haunted me and ranged from my body to my character to my abilities and everything in between. They eventually developed into extreme self-hatred. I despised everything about myself and wished that I could be a different person. I was repulsed by who I was and I couldn’t do anything about it, leaving me bitter and upset.
Now, the logical solution in that situation is to talk to somebody, but at that time I didn’t see anybody I could rely on. Being the oldest child in the family, I was expected to be a good role model for my siblings, so I couldn’t complain and I had to be responsible. My mom was closer to my younger sister and my dad favoured my younger brother, leaving me left behind and forgotten. I noticed small details such as whenever we walked together in a group, I would always be in the back, walking alone. No matter how many awards I won or how hard I tried, I still couldn’t seem to catch my parents’ attention. I felt distant, isolated from the rest of my family.
This mixture of hatred, loneliness, and the fact that I was a scared, teenage girl, just barely discovering myself, led to disaster. The tipping point was when I was deferred from a magnet high school that I desperately wanted to attend. It showed me that even after countless hours of work, I still wasn’t good enough.
Slowly but surely, I started losing pieces of myself.
I was overwhelmed with sadness and grief because I realized that there was no hope for me. I saw myself as a complete failure with no talents and no future. I was a waste of space, money, and time. Everyday I would make sure to remind myself of how worthless and useless I was. I wouldn’t let myself be happy because I believed that I didn’t deserve to be.
I lost the motivation to do anything because I believed that I was so helpless, no amount of effort would make me better. I was constantly tired and drained, easily agitated, roaming with no purpose. I would waste my days away, locked inside my room, sitting on the floor, unable to get up. I stopped caring about my health and stopped taking care of my hygiene. I hated being awake with my thoughts, so I became close friends with sleep–the only time I was at peace of mind. I dreaded going to school because it reminded me of how happy and content everybody else was. I told myself that staying any longer was selfish and that it would be better if I left. Before long, I was empty, just a fraction of the person I used to be. Existing, but not living. I had deteriorated, but I hid it.
I wore a mask all year round. I became this person I wasn’t and I didn’t plan on changing that toxic habit. I ended up doing a stellar job with hiding. Nobody suspected a thing, not even once. I tried being a comedian, the fun one of the friend group, to ward off any suspicion. I was also a person who didn’t show a lot of emotion, so that further contributed to my false identity. It was tiring, holding up that façade, but I couldn’t let anybody know.
I went through this alone because I was afraid. Afraid of relying on others, afraid of opening up, afraid of letting people know how vulnerable I was. I was afraid of myself, my emotions, my thoughts. I didn’t allow myself to trust anybody with my private information out of fear that it would be used against me. Even among my closest friends, I kept at a certain distance. Most of all, I didn’t want to be a burden. I knew I couldn’t use the people around me, because I couldn’t bother them. They already had enough on their plate and dealt with their tasks independently, so why couldn’t I do the same? I refused to let my inner darkness infect those around me, I couldn’t bear being another problem. Instead, I tried to be other people’s support, when I wasn’t even able to support myself.
It was a miracle that I didn’t spiral out of control. I’m not even 100% sure how I did it, but somehow I got better. There were times when I thought about giving up, but then I thought about what I would be leaving behind. Was I ready to cause the people around me pain and grief all because I was too weak? Was I ready to wait several decades until I could see them again? Was I even capable of leaving by myself? I decided that the answer was “no.”
I started working again, gradually focusing on healing myself, little by little. I took up running because it took my mind off of things and essentially allowed me to run away from my problems. After a long run I would stand in the dark, adrenaline rushing, heart pumping, breathing hard, and feeling alive. I strived to become better at my hobbies because the results were so rewarding. I wrote down my darkest thoughts in a small, leatherback notebook disguised as a spendings tracker, so nobody would look through the pages of my messed-up mind. Seeing the words on paper helped me feel more grounded, more concrete. I stopped criticizing every single aspect of myself, and reached out for help. I started seeing a therapist, who is now my mentor, and re-developed healthy habits. I stayed alive, I fought, and I won.
Depression is something that can affect anybody regardless of age, gender, race, status, etc. According to the World Health Organization, over 264 million people worldwide suffer from depression. That’s more than 264 million people who are lost, fighting this internal struggle on the daily. If you ever feel the same way I did, continue fighting. This world offers so much to live for, and although it may not look like it, trust me there are more than enough things to stay alive for. Do not be afraid to talk to somebody; I really wish I did earlier. You are so strong, you are so brave, and always remember: you are not alone.
“Stay alive, stay alive for me.” -Tyler Joseph
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