The Other Shadow

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When you have depression it’s like you have two shadows. One is the thing that gets cast when light is present. The other is, of course, depression, which follows you around day and night without reprieve. Unlike your actual shadow, there aren’t periods of time when it isn’t there.

Depression isn’t an emotion. It’s a noun, not an adjective. There’s a difference in feeling depressed and BEING depressed. I don’t say this in any way to undermine the struggles of others, or to say that your problems and struggles aren’t as serious as my own. Because of this difference, in feeling and being, it’s hard for people to understand one of the most basic and worst aspects of depression: it’s always with you. It’s not something that you move past after a while. It’s just there. An uninvited guest that has taken up permanent residence in your head. ¬†Depression does have seasons where it can be particularly bad and it has periods where it’s not as harsh.

It’s infectious and it bleeds over into every aspect of life. You can’t see, hear, or feel anything without it being, at least somewhat, pushed through the filter of depression. It’s a constant distortion of what’s happening around you. Depression gives you an incredibly aptitude to pick sadness out of multitudes of happiness. At a friend’s wedding you might one second be thinking about how happy you are for your newly betrothed friends, but the next second you find yourself depressed because you believe that you’ll never have the opportunity to experience this kind of joy; after all who would ever love you, right?

You build up an incredible resistance to happiness, writing it off as something that people like you don’t deserve. You see yourself as a burden; you think support offered to you is forced and that people are only doing it out of a sense of obligation in oppose to genuine care. You shut people out. Not because you want to, solitude can be horrifying, but because you tell yourself that you’ll just get on people’s nerves if you try. Or you tell yourself that you’re so messed up that if other people were to see it there’s no way they’d have anything to do with you.

These are the thoughts that are constantly running through our head. Second guessing every step and word. It’s not a temporary thing or a phase. At a party, it’s there. When we’re hanging out, it’s there. When we’re at dinner, it’s there. When we’re trying to sleep, it’s there.

We know. This can make us a drag when we’re in a bad spell. We’re sorry for that. We hate to think that we’re bringing others down.

The point is simply this: it follows us everywhere we go. We wish it didn’t, but it does. So just know that if we seem down in the midst of joy, it’s because we’re pushing everything that’s happening through the filter of depression. Learning to deal with the filter isn’t easy, and it takes time. We’re trying the best we can to get past it.

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