Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Monster Inside: Living with Depression

It’s noon and relatively sunny on a Saturday. Footsteps creak past my studio apartment, neighbors bustling by conducting errands of some sort. The two side windows of my living-room-converted-bedroom loom over me, my tiny frame cradled as usual into the fetal position. I’m hesitant to sit up, don my best face and get going with the usual routine of running lazy weekend errands.

I check my phone periodically, looking for an easy out to “connect” with the living world. Awakening my Facebook app, I eye several new notifications that weren’t there last night and semi-excitingly scan though “likes” and comments on my latest musings. Nothing societally important, like what’s going on in Syria, India or Egypt. It’s just a causal post about my cat and his Halloween costume.

I roll back on my stomach, curtains closed but askew, as if they themselves are dying to reveal an inkling of light. I try to look past the overshadowing darkness haunting my apartment in various shades of dimming black fuzziness, soon becoming translucent, watery grays to my adjusting pupils.

I can already feel that very same darkness reaching my mind and clutching the inner sanity that I fight daily to maintain. I can only hope that today won’t be a losing battle, defined by me sleeping, only to wake up at midnight and discover the world has already tuned out to their own dreams and nightmares.

This is depression. The thick, listless chains clamped around my thoughts, mood, and even physical well-being. Daily I fight for release from these chains.

I could never quite articulate what it means to have depression. Sure, we all experience feelings of sadness and that’s normal. In fact we all experience a spectrum of emotions, equipped to change at a moment’s notice.

Depression is different. Metaphorically speaking, if emotions were the exact same as wavelengths of visible light that humans could detect, we could feel and experience an exponential range of moods and feelings. Now imagine being color-blind. That’s depression.

Another way to put it, as Kevin Breel states in his Ted Talk, "Real depression isn't being sad when something in your life goes wrong. Real depression is being sad when everything in your life is going right.”

I knew, from the moment when I was diagnosed at thirteen that having depression would be a lifelong battle. But nothing could prepare me for how difficult that battlefield could and would be. From revolving diets prepped to include multiple shifts in medication, seeing more than a decade’s worth of therapists in one year, harassment from peers who didn’t quite understand, to ultimately a suicide attempt.

Depression had become a day-in and day-out struggle with round-the-clock feelings of pain and emotional disembodiment. My world was collapsing brick by brick, and worst of all the rummage from the fall out was hitting me directly. There I was trapped under a heap of my own disjointed psyche, emotions struck apart and crushed.

To further complicate this misunderstood mental illness, I can tell you that depression comes in waves. One moment, what steadily starts to unfold as a warpath, can withdraw and ultimately leave a momentary reprieve. When I was a teenager, this was just as difficult to understand as why so-and-so didn’t like me, and just as bitter to experience. There I was thinking I had been “cured,” steadying myself from the last breakdown, and boom, it would happen all over again.

Admittedly, my teenage years had been rough. My 20’s were just as turbulent. It wasn’t until my suicide attempt at 21, in the dorm room of a private college that most students would prize themselves to attend, that I had hit rock bottom.

There I was living a very similar version of Prozac Nation: indulging in booze and cocktail recipes with my latest medication triggered by many nights of dejection and fury. I was fighting a monster and not the imaginary kind that sleeps under your bed.

It took years to finally come to terms with what I was battling and how to form a strategy to survive. With help from my parents, a treatment program, acceptance of a higher power, and the support of very few, but very dedicated friends, I was able to learn how to kindle a tougher part of me. I was armed with a variety of healthy coping strategies, as I knew the struggle would never officially be over. Those coping strategies, including writing and finishing my book The Willow Tree, are still my day-to-day weapons for survival.

Today, at this very moment when everything in my life is going better than planned, I write withdrawn from the blissful sunshine of the outside world. I have to muster up the energy and esteem to get out of bed, to feel the warmth of something more than the artificial light in my tiny studio, and to triumphantly keep at bay the monster inside.

by Elan Carson, author of The Willow Tree; follow her on twitter @WillowTreeNovel or visit her site at

3 yorum:

  1. at first i thought you wrote it yourself and asked why on earth will you be depressed?

    having said that, dealing with depression is no joke. i do get depressed for no reason or rhyme once a month and i blame it on hormone fluctuation.

  2. Hi Cherry! I'm actually the writer of the post. You're absolutely right, dealing with depression is no joke! Thanks for sharing your personal experiences with overcoming it. Hormone fluctuation can play a big part.

  3. I was intrigued myself. There's help available, of course. And knowing that you have it is half the battle won. God bless, Elan. - Cherie De Castro


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