We live, while we see the sun,
Where life and dreams are as one;
And living has taught me this,
Man dreams the life that is his,
Until his living is done.
The king dreams he is king, and he lives
In the deceit of a king,
Commanding and governing;
And all the praise he receives
Is written in wind, and leaves
A little dust on the way
When death ends all with a breath.
Where then is the gain of a throne,
That shall perish and not be known
In the other dream that is death?
Dreams the rich man of riches and fears,
The fears that his riches breed;
The poor man dreams of his need,
And all his sorrows and tears;
Dreams he that prospers with years,
Dreams he that feigns and foregoes,
Dreams he that rails on his foes;
And in all the world, I see,
Man dreams whatever he be,
And his own dream no man knows.
And I too dream and behold,
I dream I am bound with chains,
And I dreamed that these present pains
Were fortunate ways of old.
What is life? a tale that is told;
What is life? a frenzy extreme,
A shadow of things that seem;
And the greatest good is but small,
That all life is a dream to all,
And that dreams themselves are a dream.
–La Vida es Sueño– Pedro Calderón de la Barca
Life is our one and only dream. So shouldn’t we make it as pleasant as it can be? We always hear people saying “life is what we want it to be”. For it to be a good dream or a bad one, it’s all on us. Happiness comes from within. That should make it easy.
But sadly life is still a nightmare for many of us. And it does not seem to depend on us whether it gets better or not. We get trapped in our own darkness and we become our worst enemy.
So many things can be said about people like us. We can be seen as weak, as crazy, as hopeless. Many of us are never “seen” at all, for we hardly dare to speak our deepest thoughts with others. But one thing we are never seen as… just people suffering from an illness. Probably the most misunderstood illness of all. Depression.
It is an illness though. A serious one that could even lead to death. And many symptoms that escape our control prove it:
- Persistently sad, anxious, angry, irritable, or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
- Feelings of worthlessness, helplessness, or excessive guilt
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
- Social isolation, meaning the sufferer avoids interactions with family or friends
- Insomnia, early morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Decreased appetite and/or weight loss, or overeating and/or weight gain
- Fatigue, decreased energy, being “slowed down”
- Crying spells
- Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts
- Restlessness, irritability
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and/or cronic pain
Depression is not a weakness but a serious illness with biological, psychological, and social aspects to its cause, symptoms, and treatment. A person cannot will it away. Untreated, it will worsen. Undertreated, it will return.
It is wrong to believe that if the sufferer just tries hard enough, it will go away. This is actually the thing that frustrates me the most about my closest friends’ attitudes. It is not bad enough that I feel permanently trapped, fighting against myself not to feel like this… no. The fact that my depression is not going away is proof that I am not trying hard enough.
But, for my own sake and for the people I am driving mad around me –and believe me, they are just as tired of the drama as I am- let’s consider that theory for a second. Let’s say, I am not trying hard enough. Let’s say, going to my therapy and taking medication and force myself to talk about and analyze things that were so deeply buried in me and that I didn’t even want to THINK about because they are so hurtful; all of that is not enough.
Then what should I do? What should we, depressed people, do? How to make it better, when you are your worst enemy and the weight on your shoulders that prevents you from standing on your feet is nothing more than yourself; when every morning becomes a challenge so difficult to overcome that you spend the rest of the day out of energy; and when that sweet bedtime you were waiting for all day becomes a nightmare as soon as you realize you are alone in the darkness, alone with your thoughts. Nothing isolates you more than been around people who are not capable of understanding your hardships, and nothing is more painful than feeling alone in the universe.
Like I said, some people do not think I try hard enough. Therefore, I decided to try harder. I am going to force myself to stand up, even if it breaks my knees. I am going to open my eyes to this dream, because everybody except me seems to think that it is worth it. So, why not?
Of course this will be no easy task. It will take a while, it will hurt, I will want to give up more than one time –as I already have- I will have dark thoughts, hopeful ones, I will ask why, I will ask how and at the end of it, I will hopefully understand that it was all worth the effort.
So here I go, stab depression right in the heart. Because I won’t let it kill me first.