Why being depressed works for me!

by Anita Menon

Its an off -putting title, I know.

If I were to read that title, I would surely steer clear of that blog /post. Who wants  to read and feel that kind of cheerlessness? But then I would feel intrigued too, to know what someone could possibly write under such an uninspiring title. I have spent a lot of time thinking about this and probably felt I was ready to write about it here on my blog.  I have struggled with depression for the longest time I know. Sometimes its like falling into a deep, dark pit that is bottomless and it feels like I am falling and floating  at the same time.  Yet I feel I have nothing to worry. I don’t need therapy or medication to help me get out of this scary chasm of hopelessness and despair. With great reluctance and at the same time with utmost compulsion I have decided to write about my illicit affair with depression and tell you why being depressed actually works for me!

Well, before I get into the nitty – gritties of how I am able to justify feeling bad or depressed as something that isn’t worrisome, its important that I reveal a tiny bit about my personality. Forever I have known myself to be someone who operated in extremes. Extreme bouts of happiness before diving into deep depression has been a way of life. I have never, ever been the one to tread the middle ground.  I naturally steered my life along the borders of extremes, pushing my limits, expanding my horizons and consequently riding on the high wave of extreme joy and then plunging and nearly drowning in the whirlpool of depression. People usually fear failure and hence get depressed because they couldn’t achieve something that they set their sight on. But for me, I don’t fear failure as much I fear being bored and listless. I joke with my hubby many a times and say that if I were to die early it would be because of extreme boredom. Boredom is the single biggest reason for my bouts of depression I feel. It is a pattern that I have come to understand and the reason why I am writing this is to see if this resonates with any of you.

On any given day, I get up enthused about a new day and make a gazillion lists in my head concerning all the tasks I need to accomplish. This is when I would say I am riding the high wave of joy and general optimism. I feel like Winnie the Pooh’s red balloon that flies high up in the air. I feel so secure and confident that nothing can touch this innocent optimism that I carry in my heart. I plough through the day, delivering as per deadlines, accomplishing tasks and meeting expectations. Life is good and in even the dreariest of winter winds cannot dare to wither the blooming spring flowers in  my heart. I feel creative and  my projects and the people in my life can only get the best of me. I keep going and going until my to-do list needs a replenishment. Not just any replenishment but the quality of tasks matter too. I try my best to fill my yellow post it in my head with meaningful things to do. With great desperation I realize, that in life, oftentimes it is not possible to have satisfying tasks each time. Slowly it reaches a point where I have ticked off all my best tasks even though I have been my procrastinating best. Now the list sports absolutely mundane tasks that don’t stoke me one bit. It is so disheartening that all I want to do is to tear my list to escape from looking at mediocrity. My days are now filled with drudgery, my mind in absolute chaos and creativity eludes me. Optimism escapes like air from the red balloon that now has lost height and is travelling to meet the ground where there’s nothing but dust and dirt. I try my best to push it up with a deliberate attempts of being creative but my nervous hands and my palpitating heart don’t support my earnest efforts. Then the spiraling starts. Like an optical illusion, it just keeps going downwards and endlessly. Then I desperately try escapes like meditation, talking to friends and family and such. Nothing really works. I google and read blogs to find out if other people feel this way but the description doesn’t match with how I feel. Or maybe I don’t want to be clubbed  with or want to accept that I feel like I am  ‘one of them’. This is when I am most scared until the tipping point where I drop into nothingness, where I hear only a white noise and feel the stillness around me. I can see but I  can’t hear or feel. It isn’t scary anymore. I feel a calm spreading all over even if there is a mad storm outside. I just detach and go through the motions to pass each day. I am still meeting deadlines and expectations that people have from me, but only that the senses have dulled and outcomes don’t matter anymore. That is my rock bottom.

Then I just wait; wait for a sign. A sign from somewhere or somebody. I am sure I will get a sign. That sign sometimes comes quickly and sometimes takes its own sweet time. But I don’t move a muscle until I get that sign. That sign brings with itself a purpose, a motive, a goal.  The moment I get that sign, I usually recognize it. It could be a creative project at home such a simple baking exercise or a learning opportunity with my daughter or a challenging project at work. Just about anything. I cling on to it like it is my last hope of survival and then slowly and painfully climb up to safety. The grey clouds clear and the sun shines down on me. Spring is back in town and I can smell the flowers again. It is just as simple as that. People closest to me have learnt to recognize this cycle and support me in whatever way they can. Overtime, they have also come to realize that its only I who can help me. Nobody’s pep talk or effort can move me from being depressed. This is how it has been for as long as I remember.

Only thing that deters me from going into this cyclic swamp of strong positive and negative emotions is mental stimulation. Being appropriately challenged mentally gives me a high like no other. But I have also come to appreciate the vigour that comes along after a strong bout of depression. The mental and physical synergies are at their best and my creative pursuits leave me more fulfilled. Being depressed has become more of a drug because it assures me that it will help me bring out only my absolute best. I need this drug to appreciate my happiness and my satisfaction.

There are several incidents that I remember when I have felt every spark being stubbed out with a violent gust of depression. But the strongest bout of them all would the time after I had Mimi. That depressive wave hit me when I wasn’t expecting it to ever show its face again. My beautiful baby was in my arms and I had every reason to be happy. But it was not to be. Depression was lurking somewhere in the shadows, watching us mother- daughter duo bond with each other before raising its ugly head. It caught me unawares and did not know how to deal with it. It was so difficult to explain it to anyone because on the outside it was still easy to smile because of my baby. I read about it on the internet again and realized it could be postpartum depression. It was the most confusing to deal with because my source of joy (baby) is right in front of me and yet it felt that a dementor ( refer Harry Potter) was sucking my soul out of me. It was a very ‘real’ feeling. More real than the saddest of sadness or the happiest of happiness. But I survived!

How?

I started a blog. I started writing. Writing about everything that came to my mind except the sadness. I didn’t want to reveal it to the world. I just wrote my sadness away and one fine day it dissolved like it never existed. I felt better instantly. It was like one moment it was there and after a good night’s sleep it was gone. Then for the longest time I didn’t see or feel it.

But for the past 2 years I have been feeling it again. But now I enjoy being depressed because I know that every cloud has a silver lining. It is that hope that lets me deal with this each time it strikes. I don’t need therapy or any motivational speech because I have learnt to deal with this and unfortunately I need this to keep me going. Life is such a bundle of contradictions really. Every step of the way there is something that makes me question my belief system and to perhaps change it a bit to keep going. There is so much joy in growing older because it is only now that I understand me a wee bit better than before. Earlier confusion and depression attacked me like a double-edged sword. But since the time I have learnt so much about me, I have managed to keep confusion at bay and I use my depression to rise like a phoenix does from its own ashes.

It is a bit of a self-absorbing post but I needed to get this out. I know there are people who feel exactly the way I do and perhaps find it difficult to get on with life. The only thing that I have to say to them is that, you just need to use this depressed state of mind to get the best of what you give to this world and to yourself. So depression, bring it on!!

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