Where am I?
The event horizon of a black hole is the best analogy for a relapse in depression. You have the emotive darkness, the physical restraint of light and the point of no return. If there was a mathematical equation for depression it would follow a similar line. We are not special in this regard. We follow the same chemical rules as anything else.
How we are special, however, is in the ability to self-regulate this process. What is so inspiring about the human condition is the level of damage that can be done before we break.
For example, if I wanted to kill myself, what would be the process from this feeling to actually doing it? Firstly, I would feel gradually worse in my mental condition. My vision would cease to register bright, vibrant colour, instead relaying a grey hue to my visual cortex. My smell and taste would follow suite, food would nourish with a sickening and bland aftertaste. Energy would decrease substantially with more time being spent sleeping and less moving and acting.
Finally, thoughts would be mainly negative and fixated on subjects which anyone would usually avoid. Death, decay, mortality, paranoia and self-consciousness. I personally may fixate on philosophy. What were once positive, inspired beliefs would be twisted. People become a swirl of ugly mess. I become less for it.
But this is not the end. This is the beginning. It take weeks, months of this to create anything different. People can live in this debilitating way for years without being motivated to end their lives. To change anything, for that matter. When you don’t have any motivation, the least resistive path is always the one taken.
But sometimes we do have this motivation. We sometimes have the energy to live and maintain a façade of normality. For me personally, one of two things can happen in this situation.
1. I bring myself out of it. I put into practice my experiences and knowledge in the best way. I think about my family and the people I love. I think about my future with them, and what I need to do to take me there.
Or 2. None of the above cross my mind.
If these things do not cross your mind, what you essentially have is a person with dark, deep depression but with motivation enough to act in a negative way. You have someone who may appear completely normal from the outside, is highly functional, but is in complete turmoil on the inside. Someone who may kill themselves.
From this point, it is entirely possible to be helped. The annoying thing is that if someone is in this state, it is very hard to decipher what they feel and what they need. They may appear normal to most, even happy. People in this state are there for a reason, however. It is because they have not been able to climb over their illness, such that pretence is their only option. This state is not an eternal equilibrium; it will eventually bring you down so low, it will be near impossible to get back up.
I was in this state for many years. I never used to smile. I hated talking to new people. My favourite days were when I was sick and could just lie in bed. I had the energy levels of someone 10x my age. People didn’t like me, they thought me odd and rude.
Because of this reaction, I learnt a tactic. I learnt how to fake emotion and pretend to be someone I was nothing like. It takes a lot of practice, but it is easy to regulate because you do it based on how others react to you.
By age 16, I was coming to an end. I wanted desperately to kill myself.
Now this is a little cultural note. I am from Britain. If I was American, I would have most likely killed myself. Why? Because the least scary way – the quickest and easiest – would have been using a gun. There is no way to go back and change your decision with a gun. There is no way for family to help you, unlike with pills or a knife. Just remember that.
By age 18 I was on fairly heavy medication. I came off aged 20, and nearly 2 years later I am still coping. This story is not unique. It is not inspiring at all, even if I were to tell it in full. There is nothing ‘amazing’ about having a part of your brain which is basically damaged. Lots of people have this problem.
What is amazing, and not just with me, is the fact my brain managed to essentially repair itself. After all that time being damaged, a part of me still wanted to be like everyone else. Smile and enjoy life, no matter what happens.
This was not easy though. I had to fight with myself in order for this to happen. Because there is another alleyway you can turn down from the motivated, depressed state. And sometimes, you are dragged back there. I still am sometimes, although not as badly. I have learnt some techniques to stop this from happening. But it still does. And one day, it may get too much.
I know I have a brain which will switch now and again to that state. I am always on the line and I probably always will be. One day, I will probably give in. Because there are some things which are inevitable in life. People dying is the main one. But for now, I am feeling ok. Not bad. And considering where I was 10 years ago, I feel great.