I have been depressed pretty much my entire life. When I was a teenager, I remember sleeping entire days away. I'd skip school sometimes so I could stay home and sleep. I would medicate with food. As I got older, the depression got worse, but also had access to alcohol. I come from a long line of alcoholics, so it was a natural progression. I've never been an alcoholic, but i've definitely gone through periods of hard drinking and blackouts.
I didn't go on antidepressants until my mid-twenties, after a friend of mine called my mom because they were worried about me. I didn't have insurance, so I had to go to a local sliding scale clinic, for therapy and for meds. There were more than a few misdiIagnoses. I was put on a mood stabilizer that made me have a seizure at a temp job I was working at the time. I've gone on meds, off meds, and on again.
Two years ago, I had a breakdown that tore my entire world apart. I lost my job, and eventually lost my unemployment, too. All forms of security that I was used to having were gone. But, I had one thing I didn't have in any of my other forays into therapy: my husband. He supported whatever decision I was prepared to make, in the name of Getting Better. So I signed back up to go to trauma therapy, and went once a week. I did a couple rounds of various group therapies, too, to learn some new coping skills.
Sometimes the only time I would leave the house was to go to therapy. When I wasn't in therapy, I was asleep. I gained a bunch of weight, too, because food was my go-to drug when things got rough. As the depression lifted a bit, I went to the doctor, because I wanted to lose weight, too.
I have learned a lot about myself. I've learned about who I was, who I am, and who I want to become. I've learned various coping skills, and I've learned how to turn down the voices in my head. I listen to meditations. I take my medication. I exercise sometimes. I quit abusing food and have lost a lot of weight. I do things that intentionally bring joy into my life, because I want to feel joy. I've met a lot of really cool new people, and have kept the friends who have always made me feel loved and supported.
But the thing about depression is that it's always there. It's like I live with a Boogeyman. He's not the one in charge anymore, but he's certainly still a passenger on my bus. There are some days that I'm doing nothing *but* things that make me happy, and I'm still sad.
It feels unfair. I've done so much work to make my life easier to live. Happier. I feel more clear and more like myself than I ever have in my life. But I'm still sad.
Maybe it's because I'm in mourning. I do find myself mourning the old me: the one who fixed everything for everyone but herself. I've mourned the loss of friendships; and also of the (necessary) loss of relationships with my dad and father. I spent months mourning the impending loss of my mother, only for her to get a new liver and have a very, very long recovery. So there's residual guilt there, because I was prepared for the worst, and the worst didn't happen.
I feel like a stranger in my body most days; I don't always recognize my reflection. I mourn the loss of my protection; being fat always made me feel like I was invisible, even if I was the biggest person in the room. People treat me differently, and it's nice and all, but it's also like, what was wrong with me when I was fat? And I don't brag about my new body, even though I want to most of the time. I feel great. I feel totally different.
The anxiety meds my doctor put me on are working. So are the antidepressants. But it always feels like the Boogeyman is nearby, waiting to knock me down.
So I'm learning how to live with that darkness. How to live when your default setting is Sad. It's hard. It's not what I was expecting. I thought I'd be done with this healing journey by now, dammit! Alas, here I am.