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Depression: Stains on My Shirt

When I was little we lived near a small pond that would freeze in winter; I remember the ache of excitement waiting for the water to transform into ice thick enough, so I could skate its surface.  

I loved skating, but I loved staring down through the frozen water even more. I was mesmerized by its mysterious, murky darkness and thrilled with the possibility of the ice breaking and me falling in—never to be seen again. 
I'd clumsily skate-walk across the pond to a desolate corner in search of thin ice and listen for any inkling of a cracking noise. 
If this failed to produce results, I'd repeatedly kick the back of my skate into the ice, chipping away the surface, bringing me closer and closer to the unforgiving, cold water below.
And this is where my mind dwelled.  

OK, so I'm being a bit dramatic. I didn't literally want to plunge through ice and drown in freezing water, but I did have an "impending doom" sort of brain, where unpleasantly tangled thoughts like this took up residence and wouldn't leave.
I should have been thinking about dolls and ice cream cake, not the bottom of a pond.

I've felt different ever since I can remember and not a "good" different, like "genius" different, but "odd" different.  
If pressed, I would describe myself as a happy, but tormented child.

Eventually, I discovered that my brain state had a name—DE·PRES·SION, a three syllable noun with a clinical definition that only scratches at the surface of its meaning like a lazy termite.  

The dictionary describes it with pocket-sized words like "sadness" and "gloom", disregarding the crippling, insane reality of it all.
More accurately, it's like I'm stuck on a "My Dog Just Died" loop— a never-ending sorrow that circles back again and again.

It's an illogical sadness that maniacally drips on without any end in sight. 
Sometimes, it's like being stuck in a hole for absolutely no reason other than: A) There is a hole. And B) I'm stuck in it.
My depression has always been liberally sprinkled with recurring nightmares.
I was sure that if I compared my brain to others, it would look something like this:

Another element of this twisted torment was a perpetual feeling of being separated from everything; it felt like I was trapped in a box looking out at a colorful world that I wanted to be part of, but could not.

Life in my brain was an imbalance of goods:
Most of what I was thinking and feeling was way above my ability to understand or process it:
My life wasn't a constant hell-hole, I did have moments of pure pleasure, but "it" never seemed to be far away, lurking in the shadows, ready to make my next moment miserable.
I didn't know how to extract this anguish from my brain, so I just lived with it until I was old enough to drive.
Alcohol and food became my sloppy coping mechanisms which only made things worse.  
This went on for years until I decided to go on antidepressants.

For a brief time, pills were magical creatures that rescued me from my menacing brain—I loved them.
The heavy blanket of hopelessness lifted. Things that used to gut me became manageable. Silly things that tormented me, just bounced off me like a little rubber ball.  

For example, this is what I was like BEFORE pills:


I was newly functional and invincible, but the side effects were horrible. Pills did get me out of my box, but they just stuffed me in a different box. The pills turned on me like tiny terrorists and made my life worse.
So I weaned myself off the pills and got back in my familiar box.

I look around and wonder if others are as messed up in the head as I am?

I wonder if perfect-looking people with their perfect hair and nails, crisply ironed clothes, and matching accessories are depressed or if it's just the people with stains?

People who have never experienced depression just don’t get it; I don't blame them—how can a non-depressed person understand a broken brain? It's almost useless to explain any of it, so I often opt for exaggeration:

They confuse depression with the Sunday blues and offer up well-meaning nonsense.
Bless their hearts for caring at all and for trying to help.

My never-depressed brother always suggests therapy. Therapy never helped me, it only revealed more of my issues and gave them labels which briefly validated me, but ultimately made me feel worse. I would have been better off spending my money on something pretty or donating it to homeless kittens.

I did therapy and all I got was this lousy t-shirt!
As I get older and depression sticks around like an annoying friend, I'm discovering something devastating that I didn't see gets worse! When I was in my "Twenty-Something Depression", at least I was young and sorta pretty. Sometimes I would look at my face after a long sob and think "damn, not bad"—my skin glowed and I didn't have chin hair.
Smear on the layers of years with its inevitable decay and instead of a daily minefield of drudgery and responsibility, it's now a daily minefield of drudgery and responsibility WITH SAGGY TITS.

This is what it would be like for me in the Garden of Eden:

Selfishly, I'd feel better—a bit cozier—knowing that many others are struggling and messed up, too. So I Googled it and recently found these statistics on how many of you are depressed across the globe:
And I found this!  
"If you're a woman living in the United States, you're six times more likely to be depressed than a man living in China, says a new study."
So we are not alone, a lot of us are depressed—YAY!  We can all suffer together and then it isn't so it?  

I don't know how I ended up the way I did and most of you probably don't know how you ended up the way you did either, so let's... fact, let's celebrate them!


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