Diagnosis: Major Depressive Disorder
“I am depressed.” These three words are so effortless to say, so much so that they are easily thrown around with no weight to them. “Wow, that’s depressing.” “Ugh, my life is so depressing.” But for those depressed, those three words, carry a weight that is soul crushing, a weight that suffocates, a weight that feels like the sky has fallen on their shoulders.
My life is precariously balanced under this weight, like rocks, stacked on top of each other, making it seem like a small breeze could tip me over, and have all this weight come tumbling down. But like the rocks in my profile, they are pretty well balanced. And I guess that’s a metaphor for people with depression. A lot of times, no one will notice because we have this weight so well balanced on top of us, because we are so used it, we might seem fine on the outside… But all it takes is a push, something a bit more forceful than a gentle breeze, to have our world come tumbling down.
I don’t understand why I am depressed. And for now, I do not feel depressed. But sometimes, when I am alone with my demons, I start feeling the weight of these words, and slowly I feel like someone is stacking more rocks upon the ones I am already carrying.
Tell me about yourself.
My name is Michael, and the hardest question I’ve ever came across was: What is one thing you love about yourself.
What type of reactions are not easy for you to hear?
When someone tells me “no.” By “no” I do not mean rejection, but rather when someone doubts my abilities and belittles my efforts, and tells me “No, that’s stupid.” “No, that’s unrealistic.” “No, why bother?”
Early on why didn’t you share your diagnoses with others?
Well, to be honest, I was told that my depression was just me being lazy and unmotivated… I thought that if I told people that I felt like the sky was falling and I was only protected from its weight beneath my blankets… people would just say I should try harder.
What reactions do you appreciate when you share with someone that you live with a mental illness?
Acceptance. But this is asking a lot, because sometimes, even I don’t want to accept that I have depression. I mean, I was always told that I was more fortunate than others, just by being an American citizen.
What do you feel are some of the misperceptions around mental illness?
Weakness. Mental illness is viewed as a weakness, a disease, a virus that can be caught like the flu. “Stay away from depressed people, lest you take in their negative energy and be depressed too!” “Oh, phe is cutting phe’s self? Wow… Get a grip, you are stronger than that…” PLEASE. Please. Please, don’t tell me how weak willed I am, and associate my coping mechanisms with cowardice and pity me with your judgmental eyes. I carry more weight than you will ever know. The weight of my demons, constantly perching over my shoulders, like a gargoyle, its cold gaze always fixated on my mistakes, my imperfections, my disgusting soul. Please don’t tell me that I have it easy, when you don’t know the ugliness that hides behind this smile. Please, don’t cast judgement on my soul, and send me to damnation with your hollowed words of empathy, when your eyes are filled with apathy.
Early on why didn’t you seek help?
I could tell when people cared, and when people pretended to care. And my early encounters were filled with the latter.
When did you realize what you were experiencing wasn’t normal?
When the bad days became the bad months, and the bad months became the bad years. When the beautiful sun, seemed to only mock me, and the happiness of those around me, only seemed to deepen my disgust for this world. When the night, became my day, and darkness became the twisted pillar on which I stood.