I’ve been there. To that place that we don’t speak about. That place that, unless you’ve been there, you’re never really going to understand.
That place where every emotion manages to become painfully heightened and deadened all at the same time. Life just continues around you but you’re trying to view it through a smeared filter of hopelessness, despondency and guilt.
I nearly cried in the middle of a meeting at work because I couldn’t hold in the sadness. I cried hysterically when I missed the train because I felt like it was just another sign of my personal failure as a human. I avoided talking to my husband because I felt duty-bound to hold it all together, I’d go and cry in the lounge in the middle of the night.
But that’s all normal. It took me a while to realise is. And even longer to admit it. But it’s an illness. And while you might feel like the people around you can’t understand what it’s like – there’s a lot of us who can. We’ve all been there before. And survived.
None of us have special skills or superhero powers, but we’ve persisted, held on and emerged out the other side. The saying ‘this too shall pass’ has always stuck with me – I’ve been through depressive periods before and each time, I focus on the fact that, eventually, I will come out the other side – because I did it before.
Something that prized open a slither of hope for me, was talking about it. That might sound like the worse thing possible (and it still makes my stomach squeeze in panic just thinking about it) but I eventually managed to not answer ‘I’m fine’ – and let someone I love in a little bit.
Just reading this letter is a proof that somewhere in there, in the gloom, is a tiny flicker of curiosity — there’s a part of you clinging on, wanting to see a little sunlight.
And boy, what sunlight. One thing I’ve learnt about experiencing sadness on such an epic scale is that once you begin to improve, you can really appreciate the positive. It’s OK if you don’t see that now but eventually you might sit down to eat an orange and suddenly notice it’s incredibly sweet, or hear some music that really catches your ear.
So continuing ploughing on, you’ve made it this far.