Introvert – Check. Depression – Check. Suicidal feelings – Check.
One thing I learned about myself from that dark dark period of my life is that I am a survivor and that life is too precious to just give up especially when you are not in any sort of rational mind to take such an important decision.
A bit of a background:
I was depressed for around 3.5 years from 2008 – 2011 and some part of 2012 as well. Being an introvert, I never shared the depth of my malady and the seriousness of it with anyone though in hindsight I can clearly see that I didn’t know that I was in depression. All I knew was that something was very, very wrong with me, that I was always tired – mentally, physically and emotionally, couldn’t connect with anyone around me but since I couldn’t always connect with people before I never gave it much thought. But I was really tired of living, having to wake up every morning with no thought/no ambition, nothing to motivate me, to just get through the day somehow and once when the day was dead, there was still the night to pass. Insomnia became a norm. No rest in the night and hence, no energy in the morning. I was going through the motions of life but reality didn’t seem real anymore. I was in a haze, trapped in my mind by my own mind. No prison can be worse than one’s own mind! It knows your darkest thoughts, secrets, your worst memories and will throw them at you when you least expect it to and depression is not the best time for this. I, too, had a balcony from where I could see the world passing by. Normal people living their normal lives. And there I was! Trapped in the darkness, cut off from the world with no escape! I so wanted to fly away from that balcony, leave all the pain and darkness behind. Just fly away, light as a bird towards freedom, happiness, the heaven! Ah! Sweet escape!
But some threads held me back or I won’t be here writing this article now. Obviously, some of the threads were the people in my life who have only loved and supported me completely throughout my life. I couldn’t make such an important decision without thinking about them. One of the threads was my eminently practical nature which promptly asked me – What if you don’t die? What if you just lose a couple of your limbs or your spine and become a burden to your parents through no fault of theirs? I couldn’t punish them so. Of course, I knew a few more ways to commit suicide successfully but these questions held me back because they showed me that all hope was not lost. What I was thinking of as one continuous dark night actually held a ray of hope. I hadn’t given up hoping even in the darkest period of my life. The questions showed me that. And that was it! That stopped me! Because I am truly human! So long as there is hope I will persevere! So long as there is hope things are not as bad as they seem. That evening I cursed myself that I couldn’t even be strong enough to commit suicide without being analytical about it. But that was the very moment when I started believing somewhere in my mind that one day I will be happy again, that I will come out of this constant soul-sucking misery. Not that I became alright overnight! No. That doesn’t happen in real life. Took a really long time. But I had hope and that was enough for the time being.
Today, I look back and I am darned proud of myself that I didn’t give up. What would I have to show for myself if I had given up? Nothing but a broken body and worse, a broken spirit! Today I know that I a very strong person because I have been through the fire and lived to tell the tale. Today I know that what I thought as cowardice on my part was nothing but sheer courage and determination to fight my condition. It would have been ridiculously easy to give up! But something in me did not – the part that made me truly human! Human beings are known for their tenacity, perseverance and hope. After having evolved for around 2 million years, it would be poor performance on my part to give up just when faced with a little pain and misery! I couldn’t do that.
What gave me hope then was my faith in my personal God – the one I believed in who gave me nothing but love, understanding and acceptance always. Then who was I to doubt that I was not worthy of being alive? The other thing that helped me was the meditation. I was very fond of meditation when I was growing up. As an introvert, I loved spending time meditating and had the art of introspection down to a pat. Since I was used to meditating for a long time, I got to attend a 10-day Vipassana course at an early age. By the time all this happened, I had already attended Vipassana thrice and though I wasn’t a regular practitioner then, I think that Vipassana helped me to not lose hope and ultimately helped me in coming out of it. Now, I know that it did indeed play a huge role in helping me then. Of course, I did not come to know about all these things until I came out of the depression. Also, it helped that I hadn’t labeled my situation. Sometimes, labels really suck! I think I would have been even more depressed if I had known the name of my malady – it would have scared me more and wouldn’t have helped a bit in return!
Remember at all times: Having depression doesn’t mean that you are weak. It just means that it is a test and you will emerge a stronger, better, more evolved and mature person once you have come out of it. Don’t let anyone put you down or make you feel like shit or call you a weirdo. One has to walk in someone’s shoes to know their problems.
So, to sum-up:
- Give yourself a break. So, something truly horrible happened. It’s okay to be miserable, to be depressed. Maybe the “normies” can’t understand that. That’s fine. It’s okay to break into thousand pieces sometimes. It’s okay not to be strong, happy, rational and normal all the time. It’s normal. Don’t make a big deal out of it. How will that help you?
- Never give up hope. Cliched but true. Hope when you have nothing left to hope. Just hope blindly. Have faith in your hope that one day in future, no matter how long it takes, you will be happy again. Till then, continue the fake laughter – fake is better than the silence. Change your perspective or if you can’t at least adopt this one for the time being – Hope is never far away. It’s always there right along with the pain, suffering and misery. We just can’t see it then.
- Try meditation or prayer. It helps by creating positive energy within us. I have found Vipassana pretty awesome and effective (http://vipassana.org/). They run a ten day residential course free of cost across different locations in India and other countries.
- Look to your family for strength. No matter what happens, they will always love and support you whether you ask for it or not.
- Be strong and believe in yourself. The dawn is sweetest when the night is blackest!