Editor’s Note: Depression can feel a lot like falling, as Tapestry contributor “Natalie” describes it. “It” is isolating; a never-ending abyss. Her story documents the negative reactions she has faced in her efforts of opening up to those around her. Indeed, because of these unkind responses, it’s no wonder that individuals would rather put on a happy front than to share their heart and risk judgement. With these examples of “what not to be”, Natalie pushes past social stigma and societal apathy, because “it” has given her the ability to be fully present for others.She writes this story for the sake of others in her shoes. Well done Natalie and we are proud of your courage!
You’re falling into the very same cycle which nearly killed you years ago. And at this very moment, you feel as though no therapy or medication can ever save you. You’re back in that same place again. No amount of mental discipline can control this never-ending, unpredictable swirl of thoughts and emotions. Even if you do manage to will yourself to feel better by altering your thoughts, it still wouldn’t suffice to eradicate this sinking feeling forever.
You catch yourself facing a terrible urge to cry for no apparent reason, just like before. Or you may feel empty and numb. You’re not suicidal. Or at least you know you wouldn’t do anything to harm yourself like before—yet this heavy cloud of sadness looms over you. You smile but happiness seems so superficial. This isn’t you. It feels uneasy to be happy. Appearing zesty comes as a rehearsed second nature because it’s difficult to express just how much you’re struggling within.
Your thoughts are all over the place, where completing a task is hard because of how distracted your mind is. Expressions of emotions becomes challenging although you are able to communicate well. But it just takes so much effort to reach out.
You just need someone to listen. You don’t need people to tell you what to do or how to feel better. You only need someone to listen unconditionally, to focus on what you’re saying without ending up with them talking about themselves, even for just for a little while.
Even then, you condemn yourself thinking you’re being selfish; self-obsessed. Which is why you’d rather suppress all your internal struggles. Sometimes, you simply can’t bear it and you post things online hoping someone would notice. But you wonder if anyone cares and you’d think maybe they’re just sick of you for being negative, labelling you as “too mentally draining to deal with”. After all, people like the positive. So you’d put on smiling face and act like everything is alright.
After all, they always end up telling you:
“You’re overthinking it.”
“Others go through worse.”
“At least you aren’t going through this like I am.”
“Don’t think too much.”
“It will be fine.”
“Why so emo, cheer up.”
I know I’m overthinking it and I don’t need anyone to tell me that I am.
I know others go through worse. Sometimes, I just feel… We have the right to feel what we want to and express what we feel. But society condemns it, I suppose.
I know you’re going through a rough patch too and it took me a long time to open this up to you because of that.
I’m sorry if this makes you feel worse. I’m sorry for being me.
Will it really be fine? How do you know it’ll be fine? Why do I feel this way again?
Why? I don’t know.
Cheer up? If only it was so easy.
But you just smile and thank them for their time.
You can’t tell people you have/had “it” because you’re deemed less competent, too volatile. You can’t tell people you have/had “it” because they think you’re attention-seeking, lying. You mention “it” once and “it” becomes your label.
Doesn’t seem quite worth it to hold on, the moment you have “it”, doesn’t it?
You start to see things you’ve never seen before. Past the stigma and apathy, your perspective gradually broadens. And as you get better, you start to feel and think deeper for you’ve opened your eyes to something you had not thought of, or felt before. Because you’ve had “it” before, you can relate better. You know things are not fine and therefore you stop dismissing what someone else feels. You’ve been through it and you can support someone else that’s going through it.
Being present and non-judgemental—those things matter the most to someone who struggles wth “it”.
So be strong even when that feeling of hopelessness comes back. You now have something to live for—to be the voice of those who have “it” but feel nothing to live for.
You’ll be there for anyone.
Natalie was diagnosed with dysthymia at 15 after years of prolonged periods of depression. With her experience and passion for mental health, she hopes to one day become a clinical psychologist and make an impact to the lives of mentally ill.