A song came on my Pandora, "December" by Neck Deep. For those of you that don't know this one, it follows a guy's life during the period after a break-up. It showed how he still has feelings for her but the woman seems to have completely moved on. The song describes a lot of the thoughts that go through many people's minds during this tumultuous period in life. He goes through and wishes that she gets to have all the things they talked about having together, describing her perfect wedding, house, etc., with her new man or really whomever she finally finds to fulfill her life. The singer details how he has been left broken and lost after the break-up, and beats himself up knowing that the separation was his fault. All of this is said to happen during the month of December.
This song hits home for multiple reasons. First, I have never really liked the month of December. I mostly blame that on Christmas and my birthday. Hating both days, as I've come to know, as symptomatic of the depression I've been dealing with over the last 10-15 years of my life. The other reason this hits home is that I always found a way to relate to songs like with this theme.
But then something hit me, or rather, it didn't. Normally, I would have related to this song with a bleeding heart, but I didn't. Two years ago I would have said this song could have perfectly described my daily life, as I always felt like I've destroyed relationships and burned bridges; I would come to regret all of the friends and loved ones I've lost through my own faults.
This time was different. This time, I didn't feel the pain and heartache that I'm used to feeling. This time, I didn't feel the crushing return of my depression; didn't see that monster rearing its ugly head.
I could breathe.
I could listen to this song, and not go, "Yeah, that's me."
I could feel this huge weight being lifted off my shoulders.
Normally a song like this would send me into one of the dark valleys of my mind, being chased by my familiar demons. That ugly beast would be right there with me, making sure I couldn't scale the walls and escape. They would make certain I felt all the sadness, pain, and guilt that I've caused and created in my own head over my entire life. But they would also team up to make sure I never let anyone know, never let anyone see how bad things truly were.
"No, I'm fine."
A lie, but hey, depression showed me how to perfect that one. The best time for me to play poker is during one of these down-turns because you couldn't read anything on my face.
I knew what I was supposed to feel once the song started to play; I knew the grief was coming by the last verse. As the lyrics became clear to me, I remembered what songs like this do to me.
But it didn't.
I felt the memories of the despondency but not the actual loneliness that accompanies.
For anyone who's ever gone through depression, this is one of the greatest feelings. Ever.
For those of you that haven't, please allow me to describe how good this feels.
Winning any sort of championship in sports
Graduating summa cum laude
Your best orgasm
Finding a lost pet after it's been gone for an extended period of time (so long that you've just accepted it won't be coming back)
Having a child
This list could go on and on. Essentially, think of a moment in your life where you felt the most accomplished.
You see, depression is like a war. Each up and down is its own battle. When you come back-up, you've won the fight, and you log the scars that came from it. Never forgetting, but trying to move-on; getting ready for the next fight.
The more and more you suffer, the more you realize it's a cycle that'll keep repeating itself until it ultimately consumes you. You learn to just deal with the lows, knowing it cannot last forever. You begin to expect some sort of light at the end of the tunnel, and that makes the darkest parts just that much more bearable.
But it will always be there.
When those feelings didn't come- when the darkness didn't become all-consuming, I smiled. Simple as that. I realized that I could no longer relate to these sorts of songs, at least not to the degree I could in the past. I had all the memories of how it felt to relate, but none of the actual crippling hatred-of-self that accompany depression. I didn't have to go through the darkness knowing it would eventually end, because the light never went out.
Sure, the memories brought on a little darkness, but no more so than a streetlight being out in an otherwise well-lit parking lot. And it was a merely a flicker, not a full outage.
As I'm writing this, I can feel all the memories depression brings up, but just like the time in the car, I can feel the warmth of knowing it is not here to stay, that this feeling is only here because I need it to be here; that it's only because I need it to write this, and not because it's coming to make a home in my bed.
No, that spot is reserved. In fact, it's reserved for the reason, or rather, reasons a song like this doesn't hurt nearly as much as it could.
Three of the big reasons the depression doesn't hit as bad as it once did are fluffy and cute and can't actually read. Animals can do wonderful things for depression.
But they weren't the biggest reason, nor do they take up the most space on the bed (though, to be fair, even the biggest reason doesn't take up the most space, sort of).
Yeah, that's right. I'm calling you out Angela.
Not getting crushed under the weight of my own self-loathing and consequently getting lost in the depths of depression is almost entirely your fault. And I love you for it.
Instead of sadness, I felt hope. Instead of pain, I felt love.
The memories we've made together remind me that depression is a part of me, but it doesn't own me. The family we've made with our little fur babies tells me that there's a chance I can live.
And yeah, I mean live. Like many other people with depression I've attempted suicide. More than once.
Knowing what I've got, what we've built together gives me hope that I can carry through the drops. The memories of her, of them, of all we've done together get to not only carry me through the worst of it but also help stave off the feelings in the first place.
It's remarkable how much having someone -or something, to remind you that life's worth living can do to actually make you want to keep going.
Again, remember the happiest moment in your life, and that's what not falling into a downward cycle feels like.
Yeah, it's literally that good. Ask anyone who's ever fought depression, they can confirm it
If you've made it to this point and read the whole thing I'm going to guess you fall into one of three categories, you 1) Are bored enough to actually read this whole thing, 2) Fell into my trap of caring about me, or 3) Have or know someone who has/had depression.
And these three matter.
First, if you were that bored, I'm sorry. Go play outside. Pokemon Go is actually as fun as the memes make it seem. Go catch 87 pidgeys.
Second, if you fell into my trap, you should really pay attention better. I know I can have a snake tongue, but unless we physically share blood, you have no requirement to stay (and even if we do, you don't have stay either. Society just says you should, but I tend to prefer rebellion and you should, too)
Finally, if you fall into the third group I want you to take away a few things from slogging through this whole thing:
(Also, this is where the TL;DR crowd should come back)
It gets better. It always gets better. Depression sucks. Period. But know that it is not your entirety. You are so much more than your depression. People care about you and want to see you live. And I know it's all cliche and you've heard it a thousand times, but I promise.
Go find a reason to live. Anything (I recommend pets, they never leave you and are always excited to see you). Sports are also good. Or video games. Hell, go join a barbershop quartet. Literally anything. Find something that makes you incredibly, unbelievably happy and hold-on to it. When depression decides to pay you a visit, embrace the thing(s) that make(s) you happy. It'll save your life. Possibly literally. Let that be your guide (but not the light at the end of the tunnel. ) Remember it when you feel depression coming on and when you're in the thick of it.
The light at the end of the tunnel? Yeah, that's the fact that the darkness will eventually end. That's the thing you should remember when you feel like the downward spiral you're on will never end. It will. It always does. Odds are you've been on this ride before so you know the twists and turns and where every drop is, even if you haven't quite committed it to memory yet. You'll learn how your specific cycle works, when it happens, and what can trigger it. But you'll eventually learn. And that'll help solidify the fact that the loneliness, the emptiness will all eventually go away.
If you're one of the amazing people that are there for someone with depression, thank you. You may not realize it, but you could very well be the reason they have decided to live. If you know someone who I struggling, take what I've written and use it to encourage the person to live. If you know someone who lost their battle with depression, know that it's not your fault. Depression is a solitary battle, and at the end of the day, you've got to want to continue. Sometimes, in the darkest of night, in the lowest of lows, it gets the better of people. It happens, but it was no one's fault. It will never, ever be anyone's fault.
So my TL;DR was still TL, so you probably DR. Anyway, let me provide a more concise synopsis.
Depression sucks, but don't let it win. The darkness will eventually end.
Having things to live for is the greatest feeling in the world. And when you find those things, you hang on to them with everything you've got. Never let them go.
Angela McCrary, will you marry me?