#MHAW15 #2: My Everlasting Cold
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This article was originally published on 19/01/2014 by Jamesandwich.
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Do you remember the last time you had a cold? You start off feeling a little under the weather, and you can just feel yourself getting a little worse, day by day. You know that the worst is coming, but you’re just waiting for it to happen already so you can get better and get on with your life. If the last cold you had was a particularly bad one, you might remember feeling like the day that you get better couldn’t come quick enough; you’d barely slept, you couldn’t taste your favourite food, you were beginning to wonder whether passers-by were mistaking you for a zombie due to your pallor and shuffling gait as you inched your way to the pharmacy in your slippers to pick up some more Lemsip.
Imagine for a minute that your cold doesn’t get better. Instead of reaching a peak of sickness, the longer you stay ill, the worse it seems to get. You’ve got to return to your everyday life at some time or other, and waiting for this all to blow over is getting you nowhere. People’s sympathy for you is wearing pretty thin - not that it really matters, because you’re too wrapped up in your own self-pity to need theirs as well. You’re being made out to be a drama queen and a hypochondriac. You’re asked, "Why can’t you just pull yourself together? Other people have worse illnesses than you, and they cope just fine. You just need to stop thinking about it so much, that’s all. You’re too wound up in thinking that you’re ill, that’s your problem."
Now, I may have the use of both my nostrils and no need for a powerful decongestant, but I can relate. With no first line of antibody defence, depression really is the illness that just keeps on giving. A slippery slope that I started upon at far too young an age, depression is far easier to fall into than climb out of. I am now deep within its ghastly clutches, so overwhelmed by its all-encompassing shadow that all I can do is occasionally resurface to make the odd terrible metaphor.
My depression has been at a level that is actively affecting my life for quite a while now, and as awful and dismal as it is, I can’t help but feel that it is, well, pretty boring. Being depressed is kind of like watching a film that you are entirely apathetic about, except it goes on for like a gazillion years. I am bored of not wanting to get out of bed in the morning; I am bored of having a total disregard for all the things I used to love; I am bored with not ever wanting to go out and see my friends (which, come to think of it, they are probably bored of too). Being utterly miserable 24 hours a day is actually really draining, and being in my head with only my miserable self for company is like a weird sort of really exhausting torture.
When you have a cold, you can see yourself getting better in a few days or so, so sitting through all that discomfort is just something to put up with for the time being. When you have depression, and you can feel parts of your personality succumbing to this dreadful nothingness bit by bit, there is no endpoint in sight. You’re squinting into the dark, stumbling your way through in any direction, which may or may not lead to that bright future you were once promised. For all you know, you could be going further into the blackness. For all you know, there might not even be a bright future.
And so, then you start to wonder: is there any point in carrying on? What if, instead of light, I just find more nothingness? Am I wasting my time looking for a happily ever after? Should I just take a break, sit down in the dark and let it embrace whatever is left of me? Do I keep on pushing through the insanely difficult yet mundane tasks of normal life, just in case one day the darkness thins out? Or can I, please, just rest my feet for a while?
It’s almost a cliché and we’ve all read of it a hundred times before, but being depressed is really like a constant numbness. It’s as if the volume on all of my emotions, and consequently factors of my personality, has been turned down. I struggle so hard to remember what elation is that I’m beginning to doubt I had ever felt it in the first place.
So, when you have nothing that you enjoy, what drives you forward? The hope that one day, everything will be back to the way it should be? Or the fear that if that does happen and you’ve not fought, there’ll be very little of your old self left to know how to live normally anyway? The path of least resistance would have me at home in my jammies instead of continuing a charade of normal living, and do I really have the strength to carry on resisting much longer?
Sub-Ed’s note: If you need any help or advice on depression or other problems, please contact Meic online, via their helpline on 080880 23456, or text 84001. All their advice is free and confidential.