‘Mama why are you not taking me to the park anymore?’ my little girl asks me, peeping out of the window and gazing forlornly at the small park, a stone’s throw away from our little first floor apartment.
‘I am not feeling good baby.’ I reply.
‘But other children are playing mama. I want to go and play too. Take me to the park, mama.’ She pesters me.
‘I don’t have the energy dear. Wait till papa gets home. He’ll take you to play.’ I tell her.
‘I hate you mama. I hate you. Why don’t you take me there?’
I know she doesn’t mean it. But still, the weight of her words hit me like a ton of bricks. After a brief moment of silence, I reluctantly gather myself up and take her to the park.
My husband announces that we will hang out with his friends,their spouses and kids this weekend. He says it’ll be fun. I tell him I can’t mingle with people because I’m feeling depressed.
‘You have a bad attitude.’ he complains.
‘What do you mean depressed? If you keep away from people, you will isolate yourself as well as me.’
He says I need to pull myself together and get over it; that life has given me many good things. I need to be grateful for them, instead of wallowing in self-pity. He expects me to be cheerful; to be as funny and chirpy as I used to be when I first met him.
I think, if only he could read my mind. I am unable to explain myself. Honestly, I don’t know why I feel what I feel. Finally I muster the strength to go out and be among people. I tell my husband that we will go out this weekend.
It is Saturday night. We are all sitting at a fancy restaurant, crowded around a table. We are with three of my husband’s friends, their spouses and children. While the kids are busy with their own antics, the grown ups are talking, cracking jokes, laughing out loud, eating and drinking. I notice my husband observing me. With great strength, I put up a wall to hide my emotions. Now, I am smiling from ear to ear and chiming in their conversations. After a while, my cheeks hurt. I am tired of smiling. It’s exhausting me. All I want is to crawl back into my shell and be alone.
It feels scary. Your loved ones get disappointed in you because suddenly, you are not fun to be around. Your social circle becomes less and less. People see you as a loner. A flawed personality.
Not all days are yellow. Some days are blue and gloomy. All I want to do is eat in bed and binge-watch Star World. It is a survival strtegy. Surviving by distracting myself from sad and melancholic thoughts.
Sometimes I tend to hide myself in a dark, empty space. I am not alone there. I am in the company of two. Chronic pain and depression. We are a threesome. We are together in a secret place. And mind you, it is a very dark and unhappy place to be.
I am not afraid of the dark. But I dread the darkness that creeps into my brain. I dread that sunken feeling it leaves in the mind. As if there is no light at the end of the long dark tunnel. I dread it and pray for it to pass.
A serious back injury left me with constant lingering pain gnawing on my bones. My body has been rebelling against me. This seems to be the immediate trigger for my manic depression. But physical pain has also brought forth some long-suppressed emotional pain.
Drifting in the lonely ocean of depression for months together hasn’t been easy. Couple that with a physical ailment and managing a little child – the journey has been nightmarish. In the last few months, I have been sailing the ocean of depression in its vast expanse, with no horizon in sight. At times, I have even fell overboard and drifted into its even darker realms, where my hollow thoughts get colored pale blue, grey or even pitch black. Dark and empty fatalistic thoughts.
Constant unrelenting pain messes with your mind. When the odds are stacked up against you for too long, when each day is a struggle to pull on, hope starts to fade away slowly. It all seems blurred. You go into a downward spiral.
Some days are easy when I can efficiently manage my pain. But some days are difficult. If on a given day I wake up feeling stiff and hurting, living through the day becomes an uphill task for me. It feels as if I had been playing football the whole night. Slowly, my mental strength withers away and I begin to feel like ‘damaged goods’. On those days, I just can’t shake the darkness out of my mind and body. It is as if, a dark, depressing, pain entity has implanted itself into my hurting back, into my whole being. I feel as if my whole existence is painful. I cry myself to sleep in the nights. And the morning after, I wake up realizing that I don’t correspond to the idea I have about myself. Anger, tears and thoughts of hopelessness. It’s a vicious cycle. Chronic pain is directly linked to chronic depression.
I have had many a meltdown recently. Far too many. Depression plays havoc with me sometimes. I am not ashamed to admit that I have had nervous breakdowns. It happens to almost everybody at some point in their lives. Yet I am ashamed to admit that my child has seen at least some of it.
I want to believe that at least my child has not been bogged down by my physical and mental state. Depression has a way of seeping into people. If a loved one is feeling blue for a long time, chances are that very soon it reaches you too. But I have been waging a long and hard battle against it, in the darkest corners of my mind. I hope I haven’t given it a chance to reach out and touch my child. I want to push past this.
I wish I could make it easy for my husband and my kid. I wish I could make my sadness and depression disappear. I want to find a strategy for fighting this. I am trying. I really am.