A very long time ago I was diagnosed with severe depression – the type you hear about, and that if you’ve never experienced, you really haven’t a clue what it’s like. Being sad and breaking down into tears and crying for no real reason, sometimes not being able to get out of bed, lethargy, inability to do get yourself together to do the things that you want to do. It was terrible, and I got treatment
(yay, the 90s – minimise actual contact with therapists and maximise the new wonder SSRIs. To this day I’m not sure if the drugs actually did anything or if it was something else.)
During that time, people – people who loved and cared for me – wanted to help, and they had lots of nice advice for me. Mostly “It’s OK, it’ll get better.” I’ve spoken to quite a few people over the years with this kind of issue, and here’s the thing:
It doesn’t get better.
It gets easier, mind. Bit by bit. Here and there.
You find tricks that you can use to keep yourself out of the danger zone, to muffle the horrible voices and the feeling of worthlessness. For me, a lot of it is keeping busy. Having lots of deadlines that keep you distracted. I have loads of tricks to keep myself interested in work, even when work’s boring.
The feelings and the voices never really go away, though. They’re always there. Sometimes it comes out as black humour, or they get used as voices in my writing, or… you know, whatever.
It can all come back if you get knocked by a loop – if there’s a death in your family, or a close friend, or if you end up with some sort of health issue as I’ve had the past couple of months. It’s always there.
What can you do about it? Talk to someone. If you can get to a therapist, that’s the best thing, but you can talk to loved ones, parents or friends, your priest or imam. If you don’t have anyone, find someone. Go to Samartians or TalkLife. There are probably other places. Talking helps. Even if it’s hard.
It doesn’t go away. It doesn’t get better.
It gets easier. Over time. And it’s worth it.
(Friend or loved one? Don’t know what to do? Listen. Don’t offer advice, unless it’s asked for. Just listen and be there. Don’t freak out.)