When I was a little kid, my favorite dreams were the ones in which I got something new–a toy I’d been wanting, some really cool gadget. (Kids are acquisitive that way.) I would wake up grasping for my new possession and feeling a tremendous sense of injustice at the fact that I couldn’t keep it after the dream was over.
Right now, I’m still dreaming the dream, hoping I never wake up and lose what I’ve just gotten.
My depression kind of has its own saga. I’ve had it since I was 12. It got much worse when I went to college. I got diagnosed and started taking anti-depressants and it got better. Then it got worse again despite the anti-depressants. Then I said fuck it to the anti-depressants and went off of them. There were a few good days in there in spite of that, to be sure, but it was always there.
That is, until a few days ago.
It’s well-known that depression can spontaneously remit sometimes, but I wasn’t expecting it to happen to me. Just a few short weeks ago I was strongly considering going back on anti-depressants and dreading the long, lonely summer ahead. I’d had many bad episodes recently, too many.
But then they started decreasing in frequency. I didn’t even notice what had happened until, ironically, an evening when I was sad. I had put on some sad music and was sitting around lamenting the uselessness of one of my romantic endeavors. There’s no chance in hell it’ll go anywhere, but I really like the person in question, and this sucks.
And then it suddenly hit me–I was sad like normal people are sad. I wasn’t crying, I wasn’t wondering why I’m such a failure in life and why everybody hates me and why I’m so ugly and useless. I wasn’t planning a lifetime alone and lonely. I wasn’t going down the list of every single person I’ve spoken to recently, analyzing our last conversation, and scanning it for clues showing that they actually secretly hate me.
I was just sitting around, kind of blue, listening to sad music, regretting the fact that this Thing isn’t going to work out, but hoping that someone else will come along soon. Like a normal person. A healthy person.
And that’s when I knew it was over.
The weekend after that–this past weekend–felt entirely new to me. All the colors were brighter, my senses were sharper. Little hurts rolled right off of my skin like water. I woke up in the morning looking forward to the day, whereas for the past year and a half, I’ve woken up every day thinking, “Fuck, another day.”
I could be happy sometimes when I was depressed, but only if I had a concrete, immediate reason. Now I don’t need one. I can be happy just because, sometimes. I can be happy just because I’m alive.
There are a few reasons why this might’ve happened now. Summer started and the academic stress went away. The weather is good. I can be outside now, go to the beach, take walks, explore the city, have a life outside of my tiny room. My friends freed up, too, and suddenly I started having plans with them all the time. It became possible to text someone in a moment when I was feeling down and have plans an hour later.
Besides that, I fell for someone for the first time in ages. Although that person is completely unavailable to me in more ways than one, it was a reminder that there really are people out there with whom I can feel a connection, despite my cynicism about these things. Nothing’s going to happen here, but I’ve already learned more from one unrequited crush than I have from the past year and a half of dating.
The final thing is that I started writing again. By which I mean, really writing–writing fiction–and not just these blog posts and the various other expository pieces that I do. I restarted a novel that I thought up two years ago but then stopped writing because I thought I wasn’t mature enough to write it. It’s a lofty project; its themes include grief, depression, suicide, marital discord, friendship, betrayal, love, and figuring out what the hell to do with your life. It doesn’t seem like an uplifting thing to write, but it is, and writing it once again has made all the difference.
For the first time in a while, I can be at ease alone. Whereas before I hated myself so much that I dreaded being left alone with myself for more than an hour or two, now my mind is a welcome presence. It writes stories for me, it promises me a bright and happy future. It points out birds and clouds and other things I used to ignore. It steers me towards my cheerful playlists, not my brooding ones.
I’m writing this now not just to share it with others, but because, as with coveted toys of my childhood dreams, I’m trying desperately to hold onto this feeling before the dream ends. Because it will. It always does. And when it does, I’ll no longer be able to understand how I could’ve ever written this.
And I’ll reread it and try to understand. I’ll remember to see my friends and to write more and to stay open to the possibility that someone will come along and change my entire life.
I’ll read this and remember.
So goodbye, depression. Until next time.
It’s a wonderful feeling when depression finally lifts from you. I remember when it happened to me back in high school, though I can’t really point to a single moment like you can. I’m glad that this finally happened to you, and I hope that it lasts you for many years to come.
Thank you so much. I hope so too. 🙂
Great post thanks. I really enjoyed it very much.
Enjoy writing? We would love for you to join us!
Watch out Miriam, I think you’ve got bots.
Ahaha. Yes. Oh well.
Congratulations! I am so excited for you, it is the best feeling ever when it lifts. Mine (while not as severe as what you’ve shared here) returns from time to time (usually coinciding with huge academic projects and looming deadlines) but it is much easier to manage when I know there will be an end to it.
Yay for you!
(I’ve also made this distinction: I can even be in the middle of a cry (because I cry insanely easily; it’s my biggest masculinity-fail and the one I most wish I could change, but I can’t, so whatevs) and, if someone is with me, watching anxiously, wondering how long it will last, and if I’m having an episode, I can be like, “No, it’s okay, I know why I’m crying.” There *is* a reason, that’s what sets normal sadness apart for me. There is a reason, and it goes away.)
Yeah, I’m depressive too. I don’t write about this as much (at all, really) as I do about being autistic, because 1) I see it more as something I have to deal with than as part of me, and 2) my antidepressants have been working for years now, so I guess technically I don’t really have depression anymore (?).
Yes, exactly. I do still cry when I’m not depressed, but I always know why and I can always see that the feeling will pass.
When I’m not depressed, crying helps me feel better. It gets all the stuff out of my system and I feel much better afterward. But when I am depressed, it goes on for hours and hours and there are very few ways to put a stop to it.
Why don’t I read your blog? I should. I’m trying to learn more about autism because I’m going to be a therapist someday and I’ve noticed that ASDs really aren’t discussed much in any of my courses.
They’re probably not discussed because, while people are learning a lot about them, they’re still not all that well understood. Especially when it comes to concrete things like how best to do therapy with an autistic person … most (like, almost ALL) research/writing about autism assumes that the autistic person is a child. So, if anything, I’d expect ASDs to be addressed in family-therapy type courses. This sucks and is annoying, and we’re trying to change it, but that’s still very much the way it is.
Does it feel any different than previous times you’ve gotten out of depression? I’m waiting for the “right” pharmaceuticals to kick in, but I don’t know what changes to expect, since I’m now in the deepest rut I can remember. I wonder if it can simply get better in a couple of days like you’ve described.
Please don’t stop writing. Thanks.
That’s a good question. I think it is a bit different, in that nothing “caused” it this time. This wasn’t triggered by antidepressants or by a ridiculously awesome thing happening to me (as has happened in the past), so it feels somehow more stable and permanent. If something really stressful were to happen to me right now, I would probably relapse, but if things remain stable, I probably will too.
It could definitely happen to you too. The way I felt a few weeks ago definitely wasn’t the very worst I’ve ever felt, but it was up there. Things just came together in just the right way at the right moment for me to snap out of it, and now that I’m feeling healthy–with all of the new sensitivity, self-awareness, motivation, and other stuff that that entails–I can get to work on making sure that I don’t go back to that place again. It’s much easier to do when you’re temporarily feeling better than when you’re in the midst of it. That’s why, if medication helps you, that’ll be the best time to try and figure out–hopefully with the help of a therapist–the sources of your troubles and how you might be able to overcome them.
Also, I’m so sorry to hear you’re having a hard time right now. I have no idea if I know you in real life since Michael is a freakishly common name, but if I do, please feel free to message me on Facebook or something if you ever need someone to talk to. I won’t mind. Ok? Promise? Good. 🙂
And I will never stop writing. That’s my promise.
Hi there! I’m here via your “Shameless Self Promotion Sunday” comment on Feministe.
I’m so very happy for you that you have escaped from your depression. I hope this lasts a long, long time for you 🙂 I have been dealing with my own since college, and it can be a beast. I remember a period a few years after it started when it mostly lifted, and I felt happy, calmer, saner. When I’m having a particularly rough period I hold on tightly to the memory of those days, hoping that someday I can find that again. Reading your post, that normalcy seems much more attainable. Thank you!
Thanks so much! I’m glad this post is helpful to you, too. 🙂 Take care!
Hey this sounds great! I am waiting for it to happen to me! I hope soon…I do feel better too because it’s summer, finally. My anti-depressants have stopped working but I have gone off of them completely for about 4 months at a time and I just sink really really low. I would love for someday not to take them…Maybe your brain gave up being depressed I don’t know but it’s great and glad to hear you are writing a lot because of it. I can totally relate to the whole not wanting to be alone because that is when depression gets to me to, when I am not distracted enough.