Depression–mental illness in general, really–is a lot like a ghost. There are periods of calmness and quiet, nights where you think Ah, good, it’s gone or I must’ve been making it up.
Then there are nights where it rattles its chains and bangs its fists against the walls and paces back and forth, back and forth, in the darkness where you can hear and feel its presence but never see its face.
Years ago, a therapist told me that each major depressive episode exponentially increases your likelihood of having another in the future.
I can only imagine that, at this point, I’m at something like 99.9%. There is no likelihood, only certainty. There is a careful balance in my life that–inevitably, because this is life we’re talking about–will be upset by some unseen force, and into depression I will plunge.
Whenever I think of depression, I think of something separate from me. Something haunting me, something I fall into.
Anxiety is different. Anxiety has always felt like part of me. It plagues me, far worse than depression. It has affected my life more significantly and more harmfully than depression ever could. But getting rid of it wouldn’t be as simple as an exorcism; it would be like carving out an organ or draining me of half my blood.
This makes no sense, in no small part because depression and anxiety are often intertwined, and so they are for me too. When my anxiety is high, depression is more likely to come. When I’m depressed, my anxiety is more likely to debilitate me. It makes no sense, but that’s how it is.
Or how it was.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot: the cyclical nature of depression, how it always seems I’ve only just recovered from the last bout before I find myself in another. I should readjust my thinking and accept that the depression is as much a part of me as the anxiety.
But I resist. Despite how terrible it feels, anxiety at least fills me with something–the excess energy, the jitteriness, the general panicky sensation of too much, and so on.
Depression only takes. It wipes me out. It steals my focus, my interests, my vitality. It leaves me empty. I don’t want to claim it as part of me.
It can be the ghost that haunts me, but it is not me. I won’t let it be.