Imagine with me, for a moment, that you are going about a typical day. You may be going to school, going to work, hanging out with friends, etc. The sun may be shining, it may be raining, it may just be a mild day, it might be a storm. Oftentimes there are no predictors on when the mist will come.
But when that mist comes there isn’t much that can be done to prevent it. You may be seeing it coming from a mile away, it might simply sneak up on you. It will start out as little trickles that distort things slightly. Your perception of things begins to skew. Things don’t look exactly as they did before, words become contorted. And the mist grows thicker. Eventually you can’t see anything or anyone around you, they become mere shadows that come and go. Sounds are muted and while you might be able to pick out individual words, their meanings become lost to you. You begin to feel isolated, alone.
This isn’t a normal mist, however. With it comes bodiless whispers which know the exact worst things to say. Things like “You should have done better” and “you’re a failure.” Out of the distortion of reality, these whispers feel like the only real things. They dig in your mind and repeat themselves. You see warped memories from your past and representations of future fears. It becomes overbearing for some.
And yet, if you are lucky enough, you may feel the embrace of a loved one. While the words may still feel distorted, a simple gesture of a hug can bring about the one that can get you through the mist: Hope. No matter how alone and down you feel, there is always hope that the mist will eventually clear and you will be able to return to reality.
As many of you probably have guessed at this point, I deal with problems of depression (yes, I have been diagnosed by a professional and am not just saying it to go along with social media trends). The previous passage was written during one of the low points in a recent episode. But it demonstrates numerous points that I think can be lessons.
Firstly, depression is not the same as sadness, contrary to what movies like Pixar’s Inside Out would like us to think. Depression is primarily emptiness and isolation. The person does not need to cheer up, they need to get out of a pit that they have become trapped in. Being reminded of the good things in their life only serves to highlight how distanced they have become. They have becomes isolated and words trying to cheer them up or demonstrate sympathy have little benefit.
Instead of being told, they need to be shown. A simple hug does more than words ever could. It shows that no matter how alone or worthless you might feel, there is someone there that still cares about you and sees the value in who you really are. And maybe you will begin to see that value in yourself. After all, you are of no less value than anyone else and you are amazing for being who you are with both strengths and flaws.
Depression isn’t necessarily brought on by anything. While it is true that having a bad day can bring on an episodes, oftentimes it simply comes out of the blue. One can be having a great day but by the end have fallen into the mist. It is true that certain triggering situations can be avoided, episodes of depression for those who experience it cannot be completely avoided.
Finally, and this goes for people who don’t experience depression, there is always hope. No matter how grim things may look, no matter how alone you may feel in your struggle, never forget that. It is important to at least tell yourself that, even if you don’t entirely believe it at the time. You might have to work for the change you want to see, but the opportunity is always there no matter how hard it is to see.