This is the first time I’ve written a post in four months. Toady I have been officially diagnosed with depression for a year. I have been on meds for 11 months and 3 weeks.
I’ve been trying to describe the majority of the last quarter of a year in a single word, and I’m come to the conclusion it wouldn’t be any of the words I’ve told people how I’m doing: ‘improving’, ‘depressed’, ‘recovering’ or ‘okay’. It would be ‘grey’.
This is partly why I haven’t written – both because there is only so much you can write about grey, and also because greyness (the state or quality of being grey) robs you of a willingness to do much at all. It is a numb state: a life, but not one with any apparent quality.
Numbness is not a new feeling. In fact, it’s very much the same as I felt almost a year ago at the beginning of my journey with depression. A feeling where you lack the will to do anything about anything, and try your best to ignore the small voice screaming at the back of your head that something is very, very wrong. A state of not really feeling at all.
When you’re depressed it’s virtually impossible to remember what an episode was like after it’s over, and impossible to imagine feeling any other way when you’re in the middle of it. There are a few events in the last few months which do stick out, however – all because they revolved around feeling something in the greyness.
- I spent the afternoons of both Christmas Day and Boxing Day hiding under my duvet, with the pretence of being tired. In actuality I just didn’t know how to respond to the joy evident in my family around me. I tried my best to grab on to the small spark that ignited somewhere deep inside me, sometimes I succeeded, mostly I didn’t, and either way the effort sent me running for my bed, for a way to escape the crushing weight on top of me.
- I came off my meds for a short period of time (I forgot to go to the GP and get my prescription renewed and just rolled with it – not advised under any circumstances). This was akin to having my nervous system turned back on right when you’re being given the best massage ever, whilst repeatedly being stabbed by needles. Meds mediate your emotional response to things – it levels out the lows and also tones down the highs. For the first few weeks I was living off the highs peaking through my numbness now the meds weren’t sitting on the top. It felt a little like walking on air but as it turns out walking on air is only something you can do in cartoons or films and inevitably I cam crashing down to earth and beyond. The darkness which followed was full of blackness, despair and rage. Meds were quickly re-instated taking me back up to my state of grey. Thankfully my friends and family were there through the worst of it, keeping my head above the waters enough to keep breathing.
- Triggers are awful things – even in the greyness they can cut you open as easily as knife through butter. “Not even a doodle” talks a bit about what it’s like to be triggered into a negative spiral. It happens very rapidly and I’ve found that I rarely notice it in myself until it’s too late – I have a habit of putting up a façade as soon as something makes me twinge a bit and have got so good at pretending to others and also myself that I’m okay, I don’t notice I’m on the verge of total collapse. It was after one of these incidents I self-harmed again. Since that point I’ve felt incredible raw and vulnerable. It wasn’t the only time and there have been more triggers and more slip-ups since, but I’m getting there.
- My faith has been tested and stretched and challenged. In a world of grey, finding the one who is the light of the world is pretty challenging. There have been times when I’ve questioned my beliefs, times when I’ve shouted at God and asked Him why He doesn’t help me, doesn’t “set my feet upon a rock” or have “plans to prosper and not to harm”. But slowly I’ve seen Him in the people around me, and they have given me hope to keep going, keep waiting on Him. My faith isn’t perfect or flawless, but it’s growing.
- Life is getting more colourful. All the above incidents, whilst being not particularly pleasant, reminded me how great life in colour is, how great feeling is, both good and bad. I’ve also graduated and started a pretty awesome relationship. All these have given me a much needed kick up the backside and I’ve started to climb away from the endless plains of depression – at first just dragging myself, then crawling and now walking, if a little wobbly and with a few steps backwards here and there.
What I’ve learnt over the last quarter of a year is that no matter how grey it may seem at the time, colour will return eventually. The last 4 months might have been mostly grey, but I feel like the next 4 and beyond will be a little brighter and more full of life. I may have been depressed for almost a year, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be depressed forever.
And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.