Depression vs. Elizebeth

English Comp 123, M/W at 3

20 February 2004

It is impossible to describe the feeling of depression to a person who has not experienced it before. Most humans do not understand a loss of the will to live; it is simply incomprehensible. The typical immediate reaction is to say something useless such as “What’s wrong with you?” or “Just cheer up!” as if someone who is depressed is able to change his or her attitude towards living in an instant.

I first realized that there was something wrong with me when I was ten years old. I often did not care if I ate, slept, felt loved, or had any of the other basic requirements for living. I knew that this was different from most other people; to them, accomplishing the simple acts of living seemed effortless. My peers never complained of having nights where they could not sleep, or days where their limbs felt so heavy that even little movements left them feeling drained of energy. I never heard adults talking about how death would be easier than life, a thought that had taken permanent residence in my mind.

I spent most of my life acting out a lie. I copied my behavior from other people who seemed normal to me. I faked laughter when others laughed, pretended I had crushes on boys, and tried to enjoy activities that children were supposed to enjoy. My parents made life a little easier by dictating when I was to bathe, eat, play and sleep. I had no drive to perform these actions on my own; bathing seemed pointless, food never tasted good, and playing with friends left me frustrated and exhausted.

“Sleep” had three stages: it usually started with hours of clock-watching and insomnia, after which I would have nightmares with recurring themes of helplessness, which were in turn interrupted by my alarm clock sounding. Ironically, in the morning I always wanted to spend the rest of the day in bed, and would sometimes accomplish this by pretending I was sick.

When I was 12, I started to self-mutilate. In times of absolute frustration, I felt a sort of satisfaction in the pain I caused by pulling out my hair in clumps, or by scratching myself on my arms with dull scissors. I also enjoyed the marks left by these actions, although I was careful to hide them from my parents and teachers. I also began to write poetry and fictional stories, which gave me a good outlet for expressing my feelings in times when I was more lucid.

My parents found and read my notebooks of writings when I was 14, and I was promptly sent to a mental institution. This was probably what allowed me to survive myself, and I will never regret my time there. I met other teenagers and adults who suffered with depression, and I learned that I was not alone in my feelings of despair and my fascination with pain. I also learned that people could take drugs that allow them to feel, and therefore live, like a normal person. When I left the hospital a month later, I asked my parents if I could also take those drugs, and for reasons they still can’t answer, they said no.

I spent another 10 years barely living. It was always difficult for me to plan for the future when I didn’t feel as if I would live to see the next year. I was very fortunate that some days were better than others, and I did have glimpses of how it would feel to have thoughts and feelings of a person who was not depressed.

I met my husband when I was 23, and since I have been with him, my life has changed so much that it seems as if I have become a different person. He has helped me to see that someone who is not depressed can also share many of my views of the world. He has also given me reasons to look forward to the future, and he has raised my feelings of self-worth to the point where I could understand why it is important for me to continue living.

With his help and with his blessing, I began to