Apr 16, 2016
This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.
When I was a kid, my favourite movie was the “Neverending Story.” I rented it so many times from the convenience store near our house that they eventually let me keep it.
In the movie, Fantasia is threatened by a mysterious storm called “the Nothing”, which is eating up everything in its path and leaving behind nothingness in its wake. It wasn’t until recently that I realized my favourite movie when I was 7 years old was an apt metaphor for the disease that would start eroding my life ten years later.
Depression is very boring – it’s just days and days of nothing.
When I’m depressed, the Nothing eats away at my heart, slowly consuming my whole world. My appetite disappears. I lose interest in my hobbies one by one. All energy and motivation seep out of me until the only option left is to sit in bed and stare at the wall or go to sleep. Depression is very boring – it’s just days and days of nothing. I stop getting out of bed at all. I miss work. My ridiculous emotions hold me hostage, like my brain is betraying me, all sorts of chemicals floating around making me feel things I do not want to feel.
Sometimes I sit on a bench near my therapist’s office, watching people pass by and wondering if they’re as messed up as I am behind their carefully impassive masks. If they are on their way to see their therapist. If they think about dying sometimes too.
I’m yet another one of those people you would probably never suspect is often consumed by the parasite of depression. I got good grades in school, have a great job, pay my bills, and take care of myself. I smile and laugh and joke and go out with my friends.
It was my first year of university when depression starting seeping under the door to my life and taking form. There were signs before that, brief flashes of smoke, but this was my first major episode. It lasted all year. I systematically cut out all my friends because it was easier than trying to explain what was happening to me. Nobody understood, and that just made it worse. While everyone else was going out, making new friends, and having new experiences, I spent the year shut up in my room.
My second episode started the summer after my fourth year, and lasted almost a year and a half. This time it got so bad that after an insufferable night of battling suicidal thoughts, I walked straight to my school clinic and was prescribed antidepressants. I never took them, because I was scared to admit that I had a disease. I still had hope that it would pass. It didn’t. I got fired from my hospitality job for “never smiling.” Depression isn’t very hospitable, I guess. I got two new jobs, but six months later I started calling in sick and leaving early to wander the streets, wondering if I should check myself into a hospital. Then one day I just didn’t show up, instead I sat in my room crying and screaming in a suicidal fit. I quit both of my jobs that day. It only got worse before it got better.
We’re all dealt a different hand in life.
By the time my third episode of major depression rolled around, I finally realized that I was going to have to come to terms with the fact that I had a disease, a chronic illness that, like any chronic illness, I would be dealing with for the rest of my life. At first I felt sorry for myself. My entire life, every single thing that I did, every single day that I lived, was going to be harder for me than normal people. And then I realized that there are millions of people out there dealing with thousands of different illnesses, and they wake up every day and find a way to keep going. So I do too.
It’s not easy, and it’s not fair. But we’re all dealt a different hand in life, and you do the best with what you got. I know that my life will be filled with good months and bad months. There will be months where I can hardly get out of bed, and there will be months when the spectre of depression takes a vacation from haunting me and I can suddenly feel happiness and see beauty again. After years of deliberation, I decided it’s worth going through the former to get the opportunity to experience the latter.
By the end of the Neverending Story, the Nothing has destroyed everything but a single grain of sand. But then, the main character is told that he can rebuild Fantasia with his imagination and his wishes. And every time the Nothing is done dissolving my life, that’s what I do too.