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Generally, the black feelings are described by a single, solitary word. They are described by the word depression. I don’t want to use that word for them. We’ve taken the word depression and warped it until even someone who has been diagnosed barely recognises the word anymore.
We as a society use words like depression for simple, mild feelings. When someone is tired, or a little sad, or even a little down, it’s called depression. And that isn’t right. Depression isn’t simply a feeling, it’s a way of existing. These not so simple feelings peel colour from the world around you until you can only see a black and white frame. These not so simple feelings cause you to spend hours a day not being able to convince yourself to get out of bed, because what is the point? These not so simple feelings make things you once previously enjoyed feel like a chore, make a vacation feel like a marathon, make a bedroom with a closed door feel like an oasis. These not so simple feelings start to feel like a physical weight has been placed on top of your body and no matter how much you try to lift it away from yourself you can’t. These not so simple feelings aren’t just feelings. Then these not so simple feelings turn into not feeling at all.
Depression isn’t just a bundle of feelings. Depression consumes your entire being. When you can’t tell where you start and where it ends. Your physical person and your mental person become one and the same. Depression affects it all. There was definitely a time in my life that I could describe myself as having been numb. When I could no longer feel the heaviest of grievances or the smallest of pleasures. The simplest things like a cool breeze, sunshine on my face. A funny story a friend told you, the death of a loved one. All these things become failed feelings. An act according to how you’re supposed to become, not the way you actually are. Numb to the feelings. But, we use the word depression for things so simple, so small, it has lost its meaning and purpose. This is why I don’t like the word depression.
So, I began calling it the Black Feelings. Like the colour the world turns when you slump into it. And I know, trust me I know, that everyone lives these days differently. That one person's depression is not like another’s. That my Black Feelings are not someone else’s. This isn’t meant to make you think I’ve had it worse than anyone else, actually I’ll be the first to admit that though the bad days are bad, they seem to be becoming fewer and farther between.
But that doesn’t make my bad days any less. It doesn’t mean that I don’t suffer. Just because I no longer see a world in only black and white on a day to day basis doesn’t mean that there aren’t days when the world shows itself in greys. It’s just that now, most of the time, I know that there are hues of blue that will follow behind.
I can’t say that I never suffered. That people and places never blurred together. That if you asked me for memories from specific months and years that I wouldn’t be able to tell you what happened. I also can’t say that I still don’t suffer now, and not just on bad days.
When the numb consumes your body it’s like a mountain that must be climbed to feel again. But once you climb that mountain there is an invisible wall that prevents you from re-descent into the numb. Where my emotions once used to be like a small hill, now they are a mountain. Every emotion I could no longer feel for a time in my life is now heightened. Like when a dying, dehydrated man finds a pool of water in the desert, my feelings are lapping against the shores. I am that dying man. That pool is my feelings. Instead of using a water bottle like a normal person, instead of feeling things as the average do, I dive headfirst into that pool. Which makes my bad days so much worse.
I can be crushed by the weight of my guilt, pain, anguish. A tightening chest that doesn’t know when to stop being compressed. Tear ducts that work overtime, no matter whether I’m angry, or sad. Screaming matches in the family have become an awkward tear fest and I can’t stop them no matter how hard I try. The pain of losing a friend, when you just drift to the point that you don’t talk anymore, and then regret the fact that you let it happen. It’s almost like my emotions are broken in the ON position, there is no OFF switch anymore and I can’t help but believe it’s because of the numb.
Of course, there are those who will tell me that I didn’t and still don’t suffer. And that is fine and all, but invalidating someone of their mental illnesses only helps to strengthen the stigma behind them. If you tear into the flesh of a beast it will bleed, yes? This is the same for mental illness. But it isn’t a visible beast, so people feel like it is okay to invalidate and demand proof for suffering.
I did not suffer as bad as some, I came out of it with a few more scars and some new regrets, but I am still here. I guess that is a bonus that a few don’t get to celebrate. But invalidating my feelings because you don’t and didn’t see the suffering, acting like you know me better than I know myself. You are the problem, not me.
Surviving the invisible years of anguish doesn't console me now when all I want to do is sleep an entire day away. They don’t console me when I literally must take an hour to simply get out of bed for my first class in the morning. It doesn’t console me for all the things that the Black Feelings left behind for me. And these don’t simply range as physical scars, but mental ones too. Because the Black Feelings never just come and go. They leave fragments of themselves every single time, for you to always remember what has happened. To remind you that they aren’t gone for good. Invisible friends that whisper in your ears, your mind, trying to see if they can drive you back into that corner. Maybe they can come back into the light instead of curling up with the rest of your demons.
Even if I am doing better than I was, I still hurt. If you cut me, I still bleed. I still have bad days when the world feels like it will never return to the way it was. There are still times when I can’t fathom existing anymore. These things fight you for the rest of your life. The battles will be fought until one of you wins, and yet there is no end to a war against yourself.
Depression, the Black Feelings, being emptied into a personal pit of despair; however you want to label it. This a never ending glacial war to exist as myself instead of these uninhibited feelings. A war that I will fight until the day I die.
Even if it kills me first.