Depression is a hard to thing to grasp, even if you have experienced real, clinical depression before. It’s just hard to describe. It is generally very misunderstood. I am hoping by opening up and tell you how my depression started, what it felt like in my life, and then the rest of the story that I can help someone, even just one person.
Let me start by saying that I have had a lot of pain in my life. I know that my pain is nothing compared to others, but that does not make it any less real. I may have been raised in a great home, by loving parents, and very blessed by a strong church community, but that cannot shelter me from everything. That doesn’t take away the deep wounds from relationships ending, the void due to the sudden, unexpected death of family members, or even the simple sting of never feeling like you can measure up.
The pain from my life may have been the cause of my depression, but I want you to know that the sadness that came from those events was not depression. Heartache and depression may go hand in hand at times. They may be really good friends, but they are not the same. Not true clinical depression. It’s different.
I’ve posted previously about what caused my depression, so I won’t get into that. What it boiled down to was that I just felt like I could not take on any more pain. I truly believed that cutting off my emotions would solve the problem. If I just didn’t feel anything anymore then I could get through the day. I could make it.
And I did cut off the emotions. But one thing that I am not completely sure I considered was that when you choose not to feel to avoid pain, you are also choosing not to experience happiness. Or a deep, real connection with someone. Or a close relationship with God. The good things get shut out too. And when that happens you start to feel numb.
That numbness is how I try to best explain depression. It is not a feeling of deep sadness. It is, in fact, a lack of feeling. At all. Anything. No true emotion. It is shutting out the world.
You know, the first time I felt like someone really got me and how I was feeling was watching a commercial of some sort for an antidepressant. The main character was seeing everything with only about ten percent of the true color. It was just kind of blah. Nothing that could really inspire any true feeling. And it really hit me. That was me. I had so well shut off my emotions that now I was stuck in a world without color or feeling.
Looking back, I’d say the peak of my depression was when I was failing out of engineering school because I never had the drive to go to class, I really didn’t have any friends, I had stopped going to church, and I was just not me. But I didn’t see all that at the time. It was like a I was in a fog. I really didn’t care. I was just so apathetic.
It took an intervention from my parents (that could have been executed much better, I might add) and a whole lot of intervention from the Lord to bring me to a place that I was willing to not only accept that I was experiencing depression, but that it was okay to ask for help. It probably took half a year of prodding for me to get help, but I did.
But listen, things didn’t change overnight. I didn’t wake up one day and see color. It actually took years, but we will get to that later. What I will say is that when I finally felt like myself again, after regaining my ability to feel deep emotion, it was intense. But it was worth all the effort.