Since my early teens, I knew that something was wrong. I knew that upon waking up each morning life was becoming an increasing burden. I would try to counter the pain, by turning numb. If I switched to auto pilot, I could at least appear to be a ‘normal’ teenager. However, at 15 years of age my world had suddenly become colourless. Something had changed; it was as if I had lost something precious that I could never get back. I played the role of a typical, awkward teenage girl, and managed to convince myself that I was suffering from the usual teenage angst. I clung to this theory in the hope that I would one day grow out of it.
When I turned 18 I prayed things would start looking up, and that this phase would finally come to an end. I envisioned some kind of transformative experience, where a new fearless version of me would emerge. Finally I could start living life rather than just being a spectator. This didn’t happen. I was trapped in my own skin, and would interrogate myself continuously, as to why I was failing at every level.
Throughout my twenties, I would oscillate between numbness’ and sadness. With ease I would shift from sadness, into auto pilot, and back into sadness again. The dark periods, which I can describe only as states of internal agony, would hit me full force. Beautiful memories and sunny days were reduced to nothing in a single moment. Rather than growing out of the pain, the dark times became more frequent and more intense. The thought of living with them indefinitely became an intolerable prospect.
After treading water for over a decade, with my head just above water, I was finally beyond exhaustion. I did not know this back then, but what I thought was the end, was in fact the beginning of my recovery. Recovery was, and continues to be a gradual and subtle process. There was no extraordinary epiphany, no amazing transformation, the secrets of human existence were not revealed to me in a spectacular way. But small miracles began to occur each time I cried and each time I confronted apart of myself I had buried deep in my psyche. You often hear people say you cannot change the past, this may be true, but you can change your perception of it. Depression has given me a self insight that I do not think I would have achieved had I not gone through it. I have come to realize that human pain is human pain, whatever label you wish to put on it. My pain came in the form of depression; it was a part of my life, and remains a part of my story. And although it is a story that is unique to me, I am in no doubt that it is a story that will be understood by many.
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