There’s a certain guilt that comes with depression. I know that not everyone who has been through depression may feel this, but allow me to share my story anyway. I have a job, it isn’t much, but it has been enough for me this past few years. My bosses are also really great and friends of a friend, so automatically, we became friends. And they, have I disappointed on multiple occasions when the episodes came. I have friends who have stood with me over the years and a family that loves me. But they have been on the other side of my depression too.
I always tell myself that the next time an episode comes, I’ll be better at handling it. It feels like I was making everything up when the worst has passed. I feel like it wasn’t much of a big deal and that I should have handled it better. I tell myself that I have learned my lesson and that the next time it hits, I will handle it like a piece of cake. And every time, I am convinced that it will work. And it does, for a few days or even weeks, I can take it. I feel that I have it under control and that this time, I will make it out without disappointing anyone. That this time, I am going to be strong enough. And this time, I won’t let it break me down.
I never truly realize when I break. Sometimes, I can’t even feel it coming. Maybe I am too focused on not being on the floor I don’t realize that I am no longer standing. I don’t feel myself fall to my knees, and when the earth swallows me, I don’t feel it. And then all I can feel is an overwhelming sense of darkness, an endless pit that does nothing but grows deeper and shallower that, in the end, I’m gasping for air that never comes. In a moment, all the strength I thought I had gathered to pull me through is gone without warning, and my life feels darker than a night with no stars.
I try to tell myself that I will make it out. That it’s happened before, and I made it out anyway. I try to tell myself that I’m creating all this in my head and what I need to do is wake up, and everything will be gone.
But even when I wake up and make myself some coffee, the fog stays.
Even if I manage to get out for some fresh air on the rooftop and feel the breeze in my hair, the breathlessness stays.
Even if, by some miracle, I manage to go out with friends, drink, dance, and laugh at their jokes, the darkness stays.
I think people have a single idea of what depression looks like, and I will tell you, mine is a cycle of what people think it’s like and what it’s not like. For a long time, I denied the existence of my depression. I was afraid of visiting the therapist’s office because they’d confirm my suspicions and then tell me that there was nothing really that could be done about it. I kept to myself over and over again when the episodes hit. I still haven’t gone for a diagnosis yet. But I know enough not to deny the possibility of its existence.
But I don’t know what’s worse; between the actual episodes of depression when I felt helpless to do anything; and the after recovery period when I had to apologize to people for ghosting when I had to explain that I didn’t mean to hurt them and try to make amends with clients and bosses who’d been depending on me or try to explain to my friends why I hadn’t been answering their calls or helping them with their business plans.
This is part of the guilt.
I’m not the kind of person who is good at expressing how they feel about something. And in my vulnerability, I’m also not the best person to take criticism. If I say I am sad, but the person I’m talking to says it’s not a big deal, that I should get over it, I tend to feel that I am blowing things out of proportion and that I should move on. And so, you can imagine how trying to explain to ten people you have disappointed how it isn’t something that you felt you had control over feels like for me; or maybe not that you felt helpless to it. That you want so bad to undo it even though you know there is nothing you can do to change the past. Even though they may forgive you this one time, you’re probably just counting the days until your next penance and confession.
That’s the guilt I’m talking about.
When you get back to the living and realize life went on. And you try to catch up. To convince people to help you catch up. To always feel like you aren’t catching up and to struggle with the constant thoughts that you won’t be good enough after all. It’s when you realize that four years later, whether you see the therapist or not, your depression is still with you, and you’re still hurting people you love and care about. Not even they may understand even though you are dying for one person to understand your pain.
It is the pain of constantly trying to make your problems and emotions smaller so they don’t take up the space in the room and then blaming yourself when you’re not seen. There’s a lot of guilt that comes with depression. And I wish telling it to you could make it go away. But it doesn’t.
ps: this post offers no medical advice or diagnosis. It shouldn’t be interpreted as so.
be conscious of your comments, this is a true story.