Bouts of sadness, stress, conflict, and anxiety come and go but what happens when it becomes the new norm? That’s exactly how I felt for two years of my life–I was happy on the outside, going to work every day, socialising with my friends, but a certain deep sadness engulfed me all the time. I could feel grief in every cell of my body, coursing through my bloodstream, taking over my being. I broke down for no apparent reason and could feel my chest hurting with palpitations whenever I had a few moments of silence.
I had seen depression or at least one version of it–you can’t get out of bed, you don’t want to meet anyone, you can’t work but mine wasn’t any of that. So I wasn’t depressed, right? Turns out there’s a whole different kind of depression called high functioning depression that has completely different symptoms.
There were days when I felt like I was floating, just about managing and on other days, I was drowning deep into the waters. It took me two years to book my first appointment with a therapist. And that’s also because I was not aware of what I was going through. Here, I am writing the signs that pushed me to seek professional help.
You are in control of your feelings or are your feelings in control of you? For me, it was the latter. Underneath my smile, underneath my laughter, lay a sleeping sadness that could wake up at any moment. I was always a second away from cascading grief that filled me so completely that I could feel it hidden between the ridges of my bones, it had a permanent home within me. I couldn’t shake it away, no matter how hard I tried.
You know that feeling when you’re about to sit for an important interview or are going to take a big exam and your stomach is totally in knots? Well, that was me all the time. Physically, I constantly felt sick, my stomach was upset all the time and nausea just became a part of my daily routine. I went to doctors and more doctors to figure out the problem and nothing could be diagnosed as the actual problem.
Drinking is fine when you’re doing it in control, I wasn’t. I would go to a bar at least four times a week and drink copious amounts of alcohol until one of my friends would have to drag me home. Many nights I’d cry so much and ask myself why isn’t there an end to this sadness? I never found an answer. It would be one shot after another, one drink after another till anyone’s arms felt comforting enough. There were days I would put myself in the way of harm almost waiting for something to go wrong.
I was always a happy, enthusiastic child, easily making friends with everyone but that didn’t always work in my favour. The trauma I faced growing up kept coming back to my conscious mind even as an adult. There were things and events I hadn’t dealt with and they had a way of resurfacing. The more I pushed the thoughts to the back of my head, the more they fought their way back.
There were dreams I had for myself–I wanted to write books on people, on the beauty that lies within our eyes, on the love that we hold so dear to us, on the relationships that make us. All I could pen down were words of grief, loneliness, hopelessness, words of the world crashing around me. I used to sing songs, dance to pop tunes in front of my mirror, but every time I looked into the mirror a vacant expression stared back at me. Somewhere through all of it, through the heartbreak, through life, I and Me were two different people–both of whose eyes rimmed with tears.
Whenever someone asked me what was wrong, whenever my family tried to confront me, I locked myself up in my room for hours to stay away from people. Isolating myself even though I am an intrinsically-high-on-energy kind of a person was a scary rabbit hole that I tumbled down upon. All I wanted to do was lie awake in bed with a feeling of vacancy taking over me.
I guess when my loved ones saw me from a distance, they knew something wasn’t alright. My friends would sit me down and talk at length about how they’re very worried about me but I couldn’t hear them. My parents spent as much time as they could with me, saying that they were worried about me. However, nothing got through to me.
I often used the words ‘It’s all too much’ to describe how I was feeling because I couldn’t put a finger on it. The emotions were powerful and I was a 22-year-old trying to cope with love, life and everything in the middle. I often thought of how much better it would be to just end it all, often negotiated with myself about how everyone would be happier without me spreading negativity in their life. I told myself one moment of courage would liberate me from these feelings–that’s a hard one to get over.
After two years of bouts of depression and anxiety, my best friend finally managed to convince me to make an appointment with the therapist. I walked into her office, shed a few too many tears and one year later, I am somewhere ahead. I’m still on the road to recovery and it’s a battle every day, but at least I’m moving.
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