Depression runs in my family. But I didn't know this until a few years ago. I knew well what someone who felt sad and absent looked like. But I never knew it as an illness. And I'm still not sure if I see it as such.
What I do know is that struggling with depression means seeing life through a pair of distortion goggles. The intensity of distortion varies from day to day, and from person to person. But as long as the goggles are on, clarity is compromised.
I've always been afraid of depression, as much as I've loathed it and been ashamed of it. It's like an evil alien that takes over your body, devours all your positive energy and then shits inside you. And all you're stuck with is the remaining filth. Sometimes, it stays in you for so long that you become used to it. The smell. The texture. You even begin to smear it on yourself.
I finally admitted to myself (really
admitted) that I've been smearing shit all over me for a while now. It happened so gradually that I didn't even notice. I've made so many excuses for how I've been feeling. I've blamed it on anything and everything external to me. Namely, my breakup. Which triggered just about every trauma I'd buried in me long ago. My denial became so hardcore that I stopped noticing how deep I was going. And I've been going about my everyday, functioning, trying to be ok. Some days things are good. Even really
good. But the goggles haven't come off. They've been there the whole time.
In my culture we eat our sorrows. We don't show weakness. Life is tough and we need to swim, because sinking is never an option. Western medical models are unfamiliar to most and they conflict with traditional ways of dealing with mental health. And those traditional ways have become lost in the whirlwind of global capitalism, hardcore westernization, and a history of colonization/imperialism. Yeah, it's complicated. But people are struggling with depression. Both there and in the diasporas. And where do they turn to for support? How do all the young women, the young men, the older people...how do they (we) deal with personal traumas? All kinds of traumas. Exile, poverty, abandonment, racism, abuse, misogyny, war...
I'm writing this scared shitless. Of being judged. Of exposing "weakness." Of not being the "strong" image I present to most people. But I need to be real. I want clarity. And sharing this with you makes things a bit realer, clearer.
Sinking is never an option. But neither is eating your traumas.
Silence is destructive.
I will no longer swallow my words.