Depression. What is depression? That's a very good question, which I personally could not answer. To be honest, I doubt anybody could, whether professionally qualified or just a busy body who thinks they know it all. Without truly experiencing the darkness that it holds. People can only say from personal experience. That is exactly what I'm going to share with you today. What I now take for granted, I could have easily taken away from both myself and everyone around me, causing heartbreak throughout. At my lowest moment I couldn't have imagined that I would be sat here in Starbucks with my back to the world, on this fresh September’s night, Vanilla Hot Chocolate by my side. Surrounded by hard working people, who want nothing more, but to relax after a long midweek shift. Who would see me just as a normal girl, with a bright future ahead of her. Which is true now; but this was not always the case...
The Beginning, Which I Thought Would Be My End
I was living the life of the usual 20 year old girl in Tenerife. Going to parties with friends, having fun in the sun, topping up my tan. Lots of alcohol, laughs and balloons (oh my god the balloons!). This never changed... I mean the parties and the laughs still were happening, but one day I just felt like I wasn't at them, yet nobody was asking where Paris was, because I was there. But I wasn't. Well I was, as in my body was, but my mind simply wasn't. I could feel myself just zoning out like I was the only person in the room, everything just seemed to disappear like they were meaningless. Or was it me who used to disappear to somewhere different, like I was the meaningless one. Yet physically nothing changed, I was still sat in the same place, in the same bar, with the same people. Although my thoughts and my hope were trapped inside a dark, disorganized prison that had taken over my head. Disconnected from the rest of me and everyone that meant the most to me. Unbeknownst to me, I had fallen in to a deep crevasse of my mind that I had never wished to have experienced before. The struggle to climb out of this mood that had begun to control me, would prove to be much greater than I could ever imagine. As the down days were happening more and more often, getting worse and worse. Then before I knew it, it controlled my entire life. When I was out with friends, the idea of going home, being enclosed in that area that I felt the lowest, the loneliest, the saddest, the place that my emotions got the best of me, my insecurities ran my actions. I was afraid of what had taken over me and what it was capable of. Although that thought of going to the place I call home made me feel that way; staying with friends in a way didn't help. It was a different sort of alone. There were brief moments where I could forget about everything, just have fun and dance, just being the Paris everyone knew. But then once that moment of pure relief from my worries passed, it hit me harder. Almost getting back at me for forgetting it existed and controlled me, even if I had only taken the chance to smile for a few minutes, it was like that angered it. So it made me feel even more disconnected than ever before. Even if I was surrounded by friends, people I trusted, I couldn't help but still feel alone, like I had nobody; nobody to really be there for me.
How are you? Is a question we use everyday without even noticing. It comes too easily to us just to ask out of courtesy. Without actually caring about the response, when in fact all I wanted, was for someone to ask me that question and to actually mean it. To truly care about my response. Because we have grown to respond with the answer that is expected. The way society expects that question to be answered; in the shortest possible way. A simple 'good', so we can both move on with our lives that we take for granted. Which is why I felt that if I was to actually reply truthfully and say, no I'm not ok. I would just be suspending their day and they would resent me for it. When really that's all I needed, was to have someone there that cared for what I had to say, that didn't mind me burdening them with my problems. Which I didn't believe I had someone like that around me. As they were there for the Paris they knew; that fun, party girl. I was afraid that they wouldn't take my issues seriously and think I was attention seeking, being a drama queen or even worse, pity me then laugh behind my back. Rather than being their to support me. I say all I needed was someone to ask how I actually was doing, but even if I did; I can't honestly say that I would have been able to answer that question. As I couldn't describe how I was feeling during that moment, unable to comprehend my emotions and put them into words. Unable to express how I felt not even to my closet friends, my family; not even at that point, to the person who meant the most to me. My boyfriend. The person who I felt most at home with, the most comfortable, the happiest. All of this meant I couldn't talk to him about it, as what if he didn't understand? What if my problems brought too much stress for him? What if I started to weigh him down? What if? That's the doubt that it was putting in my mind, the mind that it now possessed.
One day, the thing that was making this life that now owned me, liveable. Left. The only person I looked forward to seeing, the person that made everything better; had abandoned me when I needed him the most. The thing I was living for was no longer there. Alone in a world that I no longer understood. I could no longer see a light at the end of the tunnel, a way that I could beat it, in that moment I felt as though it had fully consumed me. Like a vacuum that had sucked every piece of happiness that I had away from me. Like karma, punishing me for the mistakes I had made in the past, as the feelings I felt towards myself at that moment, I wouldn’t wish on anyone. To look in the mirror and to not even see yourself. But instead a soulless frame. To feel like a ghost in the company of your loved ones. To have no hope, to have no dreams, to not even care if you were to wake up the next morning. As you knew that you’d only have to live another day, in the torturous nightmare that had become my life.
It was at this moment, that I knew I couldn’t keep this bottled up for much longer; I needed a place to vent, to release my emotions. To express all of my deepest, darkest thoughts that had made my head their home. Then I realised the person I was closest to sharing this with, was no longer mine. No matter how much I wanted to and tried to talk about it, it didn’t want to be talked about. That’s when I remembered, when my mum used to tell me to always write my problems and worries down, to make them seem smaller. As that takes them from your head and makes them clear in black and white , so you can see that they aren’t as big as they may seem. That you can get through them, you can see beyond them. That all your worries are nothing more than words on paper. Meaningless... However, for me this did not work in the way my mum had explained. As I was writing my issues down on paper, covered with my own tears. Writing words in an order that should never be constructed in anyone’s mind. Such deep, hurtful thoughts towards them selves. Like a poem composed by whatever it was that had engulfed me, had taken charge of my reality. That’s exactly what writing these thoughts down did, it made them real. It took them from my head and brought them into my reality.
I could no longer ignore it. I couldn’t even work up the will power to eat; my pets that were once my world, meant nothing to me. I didn’t even see the point in loving them anymore. Not even the things that had shown me nothing but love and knew no different but to comfort me when I was ill or upset. So innocent. But I knew I would be leaving them behind soon, that they would no longer have to comfort someone that didn’t exist. As I would finally get rid of the thoughts in my head. Put my conscious to rest, along with my body and spirit. My time was due to arrive. I was eager to take the only route out it had given me. I couldn’t take it much longer.
No one knew I felt this way, it and I were now a team. So life still went on. It was allowing me to carry on for now, knowing it had the power to end it all at its own will. I was out one night, using the techniques it had taught me, the fake smile on my lips and the laugh that I had adopted. Hiding itself perfectly, my friends knew nothing. Partying with my friends around me, having pointless conversations about our futures; seeing my ex look on from a distance. Did he regret it? Could he see that I was hurting? Would he care for my troubles now? Does he still love me? All these questions were circling my mind. I wanted to reach out and ask. But then his actions told me everything. When a simple smile would have warmed my heart. In a passing moment I was met with a cold, glare; exactly like what it was telling me. I didn't exist. I was nothing more than a chill in the air. A ghost of the past, disconnected from the present. It truly had started to run my reality, that I now meant so little to the person I still loved. I just had to leave. I went home. It couldn’t control my emotions, it couldn’t control my actions anymore. I needed to tell someone. I broke down, tears flooding my face, falling to the floor. I opened my mother’s door without a care. “Mum”. She woke up, without a pause she knew something was wrong. She realised I needed her now more than ever. She comforted me, calming me down so I could speak. I began to tell her about the night, the feelings I had experienced. That I hadn’t been able to speak of it before, that it had only allowed me to write down how I felt. I showed her my notes that I had wrote, all my emotions that I couldn’t express; on paper for her to read. I couldn’t tell what was going through her mind, but she was strong, she was brave for me and at that moment, that was what I needed. I had a rock. She sat with me and talked for what was left of the night. Making me feel safe, like nothing could hurt me anymore. Although it had other plans, that I would in the end be the thing to hurt me most. But that didn’t matter in this moment. I took my mum’s advise and reluctantly went to the hospital to get assessed, by someone who thought they knew what I was going through. Who would judge whether or not, if what had taken over my being; was worse enough to warrant pharmaceutical help. I was against this decision. But I had faith in my mum. I trusted her every word. So I went. I was prescribed antidepressants, after three simply questions. How do you feel? Why do you feel? How long have you felt? Questions so simple and all was seemingly understood. I was advised to see a specialist twice a week. My time had come to open up about everything. This angered it.
I was scared to go to therapy, what if they couldn’t help me? What if they made things worse? Could they take me away to some sort of sectioned facility? I felt insane. It was making me insane. What if they could see that as well? My first appointment had arrived. A plain, lifeless room, just like the people that inhabited it hourly, rotating like clock work, taking it in turns to be assessed by someone just as hopeless as his patients. I sat down on the blue leather sofa that awaited me. Noticing the decorators futile attempts to liven the room with colourful paintings dotted around the walls. It took me no more than two sessions to realise I was beyond help. My therapist had no faith in his ability, so how could I possibly have faith that he would be the one to help me. His advice was for me to go to the beach at sunset and look towards the horizon. My response was that if I were to go to the beach alone, I would simply walk into the water, to no return.
Something made me go back for my next session, when I could have easily of taken the advice and had walked to the beach and ended it all. But I didn’t, maybe it had other plans yet again. Maybe it wanted to drag out my punishment. Same place, same time, same sofa. This time something was different though, I was welcomed by a different voice. He explained how he wasn’t going to ask me how I was or how I felt because he knew what my answer would have been. He would be my therapist moving forward. He asked me if there were any other ways I had thought of leaving this world behind. There were a few actually, not only drowning. I had thought about overdosing as well. To the point of preparing for it. I carried 300 pills around with me everywhere I went, just like you would with your phone or your purse. I carried my ticket to the other side with me, all I had to do was actually take them. I only had to commit and that would be it, dead. That is what I wanted right? I wanted to end the torture. So why haven’t I already done It? This is the question my new therapist asked, to my surprise. His confidence made me have faith in his ability unlike my previous doctor. His confidence made me feel confident in him. I responded to his risky question. With a simple, I don’t know. As that was the truth. I had asked myself this before. So why was It? He answered, because you don’t actually want to do it, you are stronger than the depression. What he said made sense. If it truly controlled me then surely my funeral would have happened along time ago. But no I was still breathing. Which meant I was stronger than It, I always had been. I was the thing that was stopping it all this time. Me, Paris. Paris still existed. Paris was still fighting for existence and she was winning.
I continued going back to my sessions, I actually looked forward to going, the confident vibe my doctor let off , had reignited my hope and belief in myself. I actually summoned the strength to smile. An actual smile this time, none of these fake ones that I had learnt so well. With every day it had less and less grip over my thoughts and emotions. I had started to feel like me again. Which made me realise, that all I’ve ever wanted to be is me. When my smile returned so did my mum’s, I can only imagine what she must have been going through when her only daughter was planning on taking that away from her. It has never truly left me, but instead of resenting it and fighting it. I have learnt to embrace it. As it is now part of me. I have ‘sufri, aprendi, cambie’ ( I suffered, I learnt, I changed) permanently imprinted on my side, to remind myself of what I have gone through. To always want to hear the real answer when I ask someone ‘how are you?’ That the experience only made me into a better, stronger person. I still have down days just like everyone else, but that’s normal. Not everyone can be happy all the time. But I’m just glad I’m happy most of the time, I’m grateful for every breath that I take, as only I know how close I really was to taking my last.
I now live as that normal 20 year old girl that everyone sees me as, going to parties, laughing, sunning myself on the beach, meeting new people, having a great time with friends. Making memories that will last a lifetime. A long, healthy, lifetime. Finally learning how to drive, improving on my career. Determined to be the best I can be. What I want to be. Me.
‘The bravest thing I have ever did, was continuing my life, when I wanted to die' -Juliette Lewis