I have Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and a very mild case of Obsessive–compulsive Disorder (OCD) thrown in for shits and giggles. That’s a lot of disorder.
I have experienced all of these disorders to varying degrees for as long as I can remember, although the PMDD has gotten significantly worse as I’ve gotten older. I cannot wait to be on the other side of menopause.
My whole life has been disorderly. I’m sure there are some other Ds that I just haven’t been diagnosed with yet. The new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders did just come out and I haven’t been able to afford to see a mental health professional in a long time.
A few years ago, I suffered from the worst bout of depression I have ever experienced. It was longer and deeper than any other “episode” I ever had. I thought I’d never get out of it. My friends forced me to get help. I got help. I am now medicated and it has drastically improved my life. It costs a significant amount of money to keep myself medicated because I have no health insurance and have to pay out-of-pocket, but it’s worth it. My mental health is more important than rent.
The following is from a post that I wrote called Mind & Heart when I was in the midst of it. I show you this so that you can know what depression is like:
The heart is covered with layer upon layer of numbness like a branch laboring under the weight of snow and ice. The numbness weighs down the heart like the branch weighs heavy on the tree. With enough layers, it will snap and sever itself forever.
The mind put the numbness there to protect the heart. The mind knows that, if it there is too much numbness, it will crush the heart under its weight. If it doesn’t get the balance just right, the heart will be destroyed, but without the numbness, the heart would be an unbridled, burning core. The heart would burn out of control and all would be lost. But, even with the numbness, the core is still in there, radiating from the center; making the whole system feel ill at ease and leaving a bad taste in the mouth. It’s a physical, tangible presence that seeps through the numbness. Every once in a while, it makes it through all those layers all the way to the mind. There’s nothing that can be done about it. The heart is broken and the mind can’t fix it. The heart can’t mend itself since it spends all its time pumping blood. All it can do is a little first aid, hoping to stem the tide, but it’s not enough. Eventually, the sore, little heart will be crushed or turn supernova, and that will be the end of the mind and the numbness and the everything.
There’s more at the link, but that’s the general gist of it. I wrote poetry, too. I never write poetry, but depression speaks in metaphors. From the post called The Zoo:
I am the ox
traveling in circles
around the tracks of a treadwheel
though there is no yoke around my neck
I am the horse
heading toward the barn
at the sound of the saddle taken out
because I know what’s coming
I am the dog
skulking back to my owner
with my head down and tail gently wagging
after just being whipped
I am the house cat
sitting patiently, expectantly
next to an empty bowl of food
I won’t let you forget
I am the bird
flying south for the winter
in flawless formation just like the rest
but not in the lead
Those posts embarrass me now because they are not really me. I don’t write poetry. I don’t speak in metaphors. But both of those posts were written by my depression. They are my sad little voice calling out from inside the darkness.
I didn’t know most of you then. Had I written either of those posts now, some of you would know exactly what was up. You would rush to my rescue and force me to get help, just like my friends did at the time.
I got help. I am now medicated. Everything is not sunny and happy all the time, not by any stretch, but I can cope a lot better now. I no longer feel the urge to create terrible metaphors for my pain. I’m not in pain most of the time anymore. It’s still there, the depression, calling out to me in the darkness, but I don’t have to listen to it anymore. I can tell it to go away and it mostly does.
All of those Ds and terrible metaphors up there are the result of a broken childhood. Every single one of them can, in some way, be attributed to the things I experienced. They are a part of me, yet they are not me. They are symptoms.
So, I say to you, if you ever feel like an ox around a treadmill that isn’t there, if the voice in the darkness calls out to you and you feel powerless to stop it, please, get help. I know that the hardest thing to do when you are in the midst of it is to reach out; that’s exactly what the D doesn’t want you to do, but please, try. It doesn’t have to be that way. You are not alone in the darkness. Don’t let the capital Ds win.