Depression can be defined as “an economic condition characterized by substantial and protracted unemployment, low output and investment, etc; slump”.
This definition found in Collins’ dictionary is very accurate both in economic terms and personally.
Depression crept up on me slowly, one personal loss and difficult experience at a time.It started when I was a child. Being bullied in school and dealing with the challenges of a split family/death of loved ones. At first the ‘slumps’, were short term. I could still maintain my normal life and be mostly happy. Soon the slumps stretched for longer periods. I was getting older and the challenges became more serious and tragic. The death of my best friend in college was certainly a turning point.
It never led me to unemployment fortunately, but it can often be that debilitating.
Just like an economic depression, one doesn’t always see it on the surface and depression is different in every individual. No one close to me ever really knew what I was going through. Just like a government trying to function during a depression I put on a happy face, made excuses to myself, and told myself that things weren’t so bad. I was in complete denial about how deep and long lasting this slump had become. I put on the brave face every day and avoided talking about or expressing myself.
I tried to make everyone else happy and completely gave up on myself. I lost confidence in my abilities and gave up on my dreams. I surrendered to what I thought was my lot in life and didn’t think I deserved any better. I was clinging on to some sort of stability while realizing deep down it wasn’t what I wanted and this created an inner turmoil.
There was no ‘investment’ in me and my ‘output’ was focuses on what I thought were my adult responsibilities and not directed towards anything that would achieve personal fulfillment or enrichment.
The prolonged slumps had become a condition. I was wearing a mask on a daily basis. I gained weight, I stopped exercising, and I wasn’t eating well. I rarely laughed, went out for drinks with friends, or had adventures anymore and hadn’t traveled in years. Life was no longer exciting it became exhausting. I was in a bubble of negativity fueled in part by some of the people I spent time with, but ultimately fueled by me. I was making the choices that kept me in the bubble.
One morning I woke up and looked in the mirror and incredible realization washed over me. I was a complete shell of myself. The true me was hiding under layers of fat, shame, and fear.
Shame for not being true to myself, my dreams, and my potential.
Fear that I would never have anything to be proud of and that I would never live my dreams because I wasn’t good enough.
I decided that things were going to change. I divorced my husband because we weren’t a good match and I was fooling myself into a false sense of security. I started walking on nature trails on my native Cape Cod every day. I began practicing yoga and going out with friends and enjoying life again.
However, the most important thing I did was acknowledge I was depressed and start talking to my loved ones about how I really felt. By doing this, taking exercise, eating right, and being by the sea where I grew up, I came back to myself. I now understand that life will always have its ups and downs. but I have to be steady for myself, treat myself well, and be there for myself first and foremost. Putting me first doesn’t make me selfish it makes me smart, healthy, and happy.
Its been almost 4 years now and I feel like I have a new life, my life, the life I was meant to live.
From Miss Lydia, January 2015.