I have always striven for an efficient way to describe my experience with depression. Recently, I came across a clinical term to explain what I go through thanks to the beautiful gift of clinical counseling. I was diagnosed with Dysthymia, which is described as a persistent depression disorder and occasionally this is paired severe depressive episodes due to a plethora of life variables. Imagery best helps me understand any type of information that is presented to me, so I tried to gain a grasp of my experience by comparing my disorder to a unique weather pattern.
Imagine walking outside on a beautiful sunny day and have a gleeful anticipation of what the day could bring. The birds are chirping, the flowers ebb and flow with the wind, and the warmth of the sun brings…wait a minute. You don’t feel the sun. This is strange. The day looked promising. The weather woman said that today would be a gorgeous day to be outside. Your family is already out by pool enjoying the summer festivities and summer vibes. What is wrong? As you look up, you see the issue; this small, dense, low hanging cloud has blocked the sun’s pleasant rays from embracing you. No strong wind brought in the cloud. No grand storm of life circumstance conjured it up. The cloud appeared out of nowhere. Annoyed, you shrug it off, assuming the intruder will eventually take leave thanks to some wind and you’ll be joining the rest of the gang in the summer fun.
So you go through your day as normal, but as time passes, you notice this cloud is has a handful of abnormal characteristics. The cloud isn’t moving. It staunchly holds it’s position in the sky, casting a shadow on all that you see and a coolness of touch with every interaction you have. Somehow, this cloud brings a heaviness to your steps, as if a heavy rain has drenched the clothes with reminders of past mistakes and missteps. Simple tasks become troublesome due to the grey hue that has been brought forth and what was once beautiful seems dull and uninteresting without the brilliant light of the sun to bring out the best of nature around you. People wonder why you’re so down, why you’re not as motivated to be productive or excited about going swimming or go on a walk when it’s such a lovely day outside. Internally, resentment sprouts up in your heart. How could they be okay with this cloud ruining everything that today promised? Do your loved ones not understand this weather is uniquely jacked up? No one else is reacting to the cloud. No else is bothered by the existence of this persistent cloud at all.
It’s as if…
You’re the only one who is affected. Why? Others can’t see it. You’re the only one who’s bothered by it. How come? You’re the only one who’s aware of it’s existence. A silent panic develops in your head and thoughts flash like lightning across your brain. “There must be something wrong with me. I’m not suppose to be this way. Others are happy because they must have something I don’t or are able to do something that I can’t do.” After several vain attempts to talking to people about the cloud, you give up. It’s hard to feel heard and understood when you’re the only one living in this shroud of confusion and doubt. This cloud fogs up clear thinking, blows away logic and reason and rains down feelings of isolation, fear, and inadequacy that soak in until your hands are pruny. After an extended period of living in this separate reality, the suns warmth is a stranger to you. As crazy as it sounds, you begin to truly believe that the Sun must have forgotten about you. “You don’t matter. This is where you belong now.” rumbles the thunderous depression in your head. Any and all prayers you throw up are a waste of your breath. And you come to the conclusion that the never-ending light of the Son has left. The only escape is to sleep, because even the worst of nightmares are a relief from the dreadful reality of being forgotten by what brings life to the world. So you curl up in bed day and night, washing away yesterday’s regrets with today’s tears, as you groan inwardly for any relief from the numbness produced by this cold world.
Part 2 coming…