Photo by Paola Chaaya on Unsplash
This article first appeared on SHE'SAID' and has been republished with permission.
It’s time we had a talk, you and me.
I feel like now is a good time because I’m in a better place, somewhere it’s harder for you to claw at me and bring me back down. I know you’ll get that chance sooner or later, but right now I feel strong enough to give you a piece of my mind.
Maybe it’s the medication I’m feeding you which is currently keeping you at a safe distance. Maybe it’s finally working after years of trial and error, playing a sick game of chance with my mental health treatment until I found an anti-depressant which actually calmed you and quietened you. I’m so glad I’ve managed to push you away — for now.
I know you’ll fight your way back into my head eventually. You sometimes manage to, even now, especially when I’m alone late at night. If I’m having a particularly bad moment of weakness, you take the chance to pounce. To attack. To feed on my fears, sadness, doubt, and anxieties. I’d beg you to just go away and leave me alone, but I know you’ll never really leave me.
Depression never really leaves.
I know you. After years of you constantly being with me, of course I do. I also know the cards you play to get to me.
You came into my life slowly, inching in and trying to see what you could get away with. You started simple, as depression often does, convincing me that the reason my father didn’t love me was that I wasn’t worthy of his love. That something was so inheritably wrong with me that of course he hated me and wanted nothing to do with me.
You planted this insidious seed, knowing it would push its way into all of my relationships and thoughts from then on. You’d created the perfect amount of self-doubt and self-hatred, which created a perfectly dark place for you to make your bed and set up shop.
You made me feel so rotten and broken on the inside that you convinced me I had to hurt myself. I spent years in my teens ripping at my skin with razor blades so I could feel something, or feel the hurt and pain you made me believe I deserved.
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Now, I don’t hurt myself on the outside because you do such a good job of mutilating my insides that I don’t have to. You rip away all of my motivation and drive until I have nothing left, and then whisper in my ear that I’m lazy. You take away my ability to get out of bed until entire days pass where I haven’t left my room, until I’m kicked out of the University classes I’m excelling in because you stopped me from going to class, until I can’t remember the last time I showered.
Depression is full of these kinds of contradictions, causing people to self-sabotage at the exact moments they’re actually doing well.
You tell me things I’d never let anyone else in my life get away with telling me. You convince me I’m crazy, unlovable and unworthy of what I achieve. On days when you’ve done a particularly good job of wearing me down, you make me believe I deserved being raped years ago, the PTSD that came afterand every breakdown since was all my fault and I bought it on myself.
Last year, you tried to force me to give in to the darkness and end it all. I may have listened to you, as well, except for one thing.
The years of suffering from depression and the pain you’ve inflicted on me have in a way, backfired on you. Because you’ve reduced me to my lowest point so many times in my life and I’ve had to crawl my way back up each time, now I know for sure I can get through anything.
I am fearless, and you helped make me that way. And so I didn’t give in to you last year, and I won’t give in if you ever try to make me commit suicide again.
I’ve never addressed you until now because it always seemed pointless. Part of me has resigned to the fact that you’ll always be with me, whispering in my ear, tearing me down bit by bit until I’m unable to fight you or keep you from ruining me. You’re something I have to live with, even though I hate you and I hate what you do to me with every fiber of who I am.
I’ll openly announce to the world that I have depression because keeping you in the dark is more damaging than being open about your existence.
You want me to suffer alone, but because I speak about you, I give strength to myself and to anyone else out there struggling with depression every day.
If you didn’t make me feel nothing, I’d be beyond furious at you. If you didn’t make me believe I deserve to feel so worthless, I think I’d have the motivation to banish you from my life forever. But because of your presence in my life for a decade now, you’ve successfully worn me down enough that I’ve decided to live with you.
I know, now, after years of trying different strategies to shove you back in the dark, how to manage and control you. I know how to take care of myself when you’re intent on hurting me. You might get in my head so badly that I’m a broken version of myself, holed up in my bedroom feeling everything and nothing at the same time, but I’ve learned what you hate.
You hate it when I burn you and wash you away with steaming hot water from a long shower.
You loathe when I drink warm, comforting cups of tea, with two sugars for extra sweetness to help fight your bitterness.
You despise my favorite movies; Beauty and the Beast, Harry Potter, Practical Magic and Moulin Rouge are your most hated crutches because they comfort me, and you wish they didn’t.
You can’t fight me when I refuse to fight back because I’m too tightly wrapped in my duvet, the arms of my partner blocking you from reaching me,
You can’t get a word in to criticize me or hurt me when I’m too busy talking to my amazing family and friends, who counteract your hurtful lies with assurances that I am loved, I am special, and I am better than you’ve made me think I am. I’m not just someone with depression, and I won’t let you tell me that I am.
Because I know how to push back against you now, I have more good days than bad ones. I’ve reconciled the fact that even when I’m having an amazing time, you’re over in the corner of the room in the shadows, your negative presence looming, a threat and reminder that you’re ready to attach yourself to me at any moment.
I’m okay with the reality that when I go to bed by myself, without my partner to lock you outside the door, I won’t really be alone. You’ll be embracing me in the dark, feeding my anxieties and deepest, darkest fears until I finally fall asleep.
I understand that you, along with anxiety and PTSD, your evil entourage, are mental illnesses that I have to learn to live with.
And so this is not so much an eviction notice — as much as I wish it could be — as it is a warning. You may think I’m weak, and at times, you may be able to convince me I am, but I’m really not.
I’m stronger than you. I’m more than you make me feel. And I’m aware of my inner goodness, my own worth — I have a reminder of it tattooed on my ribs — and all of the amazing things I have to offer the world. You can’t take those things away from me ever again.
You may have power over me at times, but you don’t control me. Not anymore.
I’ll see you, and I’ll fight you, tonight.