Not a single friend or family member of mine has died in the past, no one. Still, there is this heavy feeling of mourning that I often have, and believe it or not, one of the most important things that I ever learned about myself was that I am very good at changing my perspective towards some situations. I can simply watch it from another angle and view myself within the bigger picture. When I did it this time, I finally found the reason for so much mourning: it was me. I had died. “Since people decided on dark colors in funerals, that’s what I’m going to look like from now on. Not only from the outside but from the inside as well.” That’s what I thought to myself at the time, what I thought made sense. Go figure…
The word depression comes from the late Middle English, originated from the Latin words depressio(n- ) and deprimere, which means to ‘press down’. Psychologically speaking, its a general down mood with specific symptoms occurring for a long period of time. I mean, we have all been unhappy, its a normal part of life and I had felt it before, but it was nothing like this. Four months had passed since I took the mirror away from my bathroom, I knew something was wrong. I was uncomfortable looking at myself and didn’t want to have to worry about my “unfixed” appearance, so I shaved my head bold and replaced most of my clothes for black and white. I tried not to laugh or look into people’s eyes because it opens the door for a conversation like I want that… (cheers if you got the reference). In no time, feeling like this became normal and it felt like I had been this way my whole life. Seems like you become “it”, “it” becomes you, and there is no way around. It’s nothing like being unhappy. Writer Willian Styron called it a “brainstorm”, which is much more accurate than “unhappiness”.
However, like most Hult students, I come from a good and financially stable family, in which I was loved since before I was even born. So why was I feeling like this? Is there anything I’m missing? But the thing is, like any illness, depression is a state of malfunction, but this time in the brain. There is a strange feeling most people have, that is, to think everything is essentially OK. People that suffer from depression live without that feeling, a really tough experience not only to go through but to observe. Besides, although you might feel apocalyptic from the inside, almost nothing changes from the viewers’ perspective – except for perhaps occasional self-isolation, or prolonged anger and impatience at the beginning. So most people don’t realize what it looks like until they experience it themselves, which is discouraging for those who are depressed already. What makes it even worse is that we want the illness to be acknowledged but deny it at the same time because of its bad reputation. Getting others to understand what it feels like might seem impossible sometimes, but one thing is almost as certain as death: you are not alone, and believe it or not some people know what you feel. Go ask for help, please. Depression is hard to imagine, that’s why most people don’t understand it. But the main question is: Do we want to understand it? I think it’s about time we say yes.
In a matter of understanding, the phenomenon called “depressive realism” became known after repeated studies determined that mild to moderate depressives have a more realistic view on life than other “normal people”. Neel Burton, the author of The Meaning of Madness put it this way: “this is the healthy suspicion that modern life has no meaning and modern society is absurd and alienating.”
Anyways, looking at my background in particular, it seemed not to be an obvious reason for me to be like this. At this point, some symptoms such as self-pity, guilt, apathy, pessimism, and narcissism can appear. Even though it’s hard for most people to admit their narcissists, it is a root cause of depression and addiction. So I started to repress everything inside me, etymologically speaking, pressing down my already pressed down feelings. This wasn’t any good, and similarly to when a star dies, when I had exhausted all my nuclear fuel, an enormous explosion. Not made of oxygen or iron as we see in the pictures taken by the Hubble telescope, but one of all the evil and restrained thoughts in my head. And it can hit you in many different ways, for me, it came not like euphoria, but as melancholy and nihilism. Nothing appealed to me anymore, I didn’t have feelings for anything and anyone and I just wanted to leave wherever I was and come back to my comfort zone. Little did I know that the problem was me, and not the things that didn’t appeal to me. I figured that the most uncomfortable place for me was inside my own head.
Despite all, depression can be positive. It changes people’s views about life and in some cases brings drastic changes. If you’re unsure or already know that you are experiencing depression, remember that with appropriate counseling and medical treatment if needed, this deadly illness can be turned around and bring positive change.
The writer Tim Lott wrote an excellent and intriguing article about his own experience with depression. Here is one of the quotes from the article:
“I have a suspicion that society, in its heart of hearts, despises depressives because it knows they have a point: the recognition that life is finite and sad and frightening – as well as those more sanctioned outlooks, joyful and exciting and complex and satisfying.”
Lott, T. (2016, April 19).