Have you ever just sat down and thought about the past?
It’s a typical day, you’re going through the regular motions and then BAM! something happens, triggers a memory. You start thinking about the week that has just passed by. The phone calls from friends and family; workday occurrences; things you accomplished and the things still left on your to-do list; that walk you took to the park with your four legged friend.
Or maybe you’re thinking further back. To your childhood perhaps? Reminiscing on those long summer days spent outside; the laughs and shouts of your brother or sister, neighbor, or best friend; racing scooters and bikes up and down driveways and the street; games of hide and seek in the yard; daily explorations into the woods that spread out beyond the border of your dead end street.
I had one of those moments recently. I wasn’t thinking about last week or my ever-growing list of things to do. Nor those faraway days when I was a bright-eyed youngin’ spending all my free time running about with a friend. I was thinking about last year (all of 2011 and most of 2012). When I look back at everything I was going through, what I was feeling and thinking, I can’t believe how different my life is now. It wasn’t that long ago, but it feels like a lifetime.
I suffer from depression. I use the present tense because, even though I’m wonderfully happy and more functional than I have ever been, I still have my moments. I could fall back into that dark place I was a year ago if I stop making an effort. If I completely stop going to therapy (fat chance, I love, love, love my therapist, she’s hilarious) or if I stop taking my medication (though eventually I’m told I’ll be weaned off it, but that’s still in the slightly distant future).
A year ago my life was completely different. I barely had a life. I had friends, sure. I joined a sorority at my college. I went out and I did things, but I scarcely even noticed. I wasn’t even there. I mean I was there physically (obviously) but emotionally? Not even a little.
I spent the majority of my time thinking about how much of a waste my life was. I had no friends. I wasn’t a fun person, an interesting person, a worthwhile person. I was boring. No one wanted me in the sorority or out at the parties or at their table in the dining hall. This is how I felt. I believed all sorts of negative things about myself. I knew that I was nothing and no one. It wasn’t true of course, but no one could have convinced me otherwise.
I was miserable. I stopped making an effort to hang out with my sisters, or friends, or fellow creative writing majors. I stopped leaving my room for anything besides class and food. And then I stopped wanting to go to class. I stopped wanting to go to the dining hall for breakfast or dinner because I felt awkward and uninvited at the table.
I hated myself.
I hated everyone else too. I was stuck down in a bottomless pit of despair and self-loathing, and could see no way out.
I wanted to die.
At least I thought I wanted to. But those thoughts frightened me. I didn’t actually want to die, right? Right? There must have been a small part of me somewhere that agreed because soon after I started having those thoughts I sought help. I had weekly meetings with a counselor on my college campus and when I came back home I began seeing a therapist and started my medication soon after that.
Over the past year therapy has thrown me a rope latter and I have slowly started to climb my way up and out of the darkness, and will continue to do so until I have, at long last, stepped out into the sun.
It scares me, when I think back to where I was a year ago, but it also gives me hope that life will continue to get better.