The unpredictability of Dee
I knew her comfort was poisonous. It was bottled in glass the same shade as my envy from Saturday night. I still accepted it; unable to battle the lullaby close to my ear and every delicate drag through my hair. It was witchcraft or my weakness. My inability to see friend from foe. I know now, Dee was both.
– from Dee, a novel in progress.
Part of the reason I wanted to tell Dee’s story was to tackle how depression is often perceived. Sadness is an overwhelming feeling during a bout of depression but it is not the definition. Dee embodies the range and swing of emotions you experience. Too often we think low mood must mean sadness and sadness only. If anything, the sadness is the result rather than the cause.
I wanted to show how Dee offers security and insecurity hand in hand. Dee plays upon your anxieties until only depression feels safe. Staying in bed makes it stop. Not bothering to shower helps. Anything you do, which you would say is because of feeling depressed is its way of creating a new familiar, a new safe. Alongside this, comes a spill of emotions or none at all.
Jealousy. Heartache. Guilt. Shame. Anxiety. Regret. Remorse. Anger. Apathy. Empathy. Hate. Love. Hopelessness. Helplessness. Worthlessness. Grief. Confusion. Frustration. Numbness. Emptiness. I could go on and I could explain how often they appear in pairs or crowds.
Dee has led me to depend on those around me to look after me yet as soon as I accept their help, it is quick to tell me this makes me a hopeless failure unable to cope. I’m ashamed of this fragility. I’m angered by this weakness. I’m frustrated with myself. I wallow in these emotions rather than sadness. It is just many of these emotions look a lot like sadness.
As the novel has progressed, Dee has cried in a supermarket, had an outburst in a pet store, snuggled up in bed beside the narrator, questioned the narrator’s ambitions and stormed off in silence. Dee is rarely sad. She is human; perilously so.
Where depression becomes an illness is the sufferer’s struggle to combat feeling these emotions so intensely. Sometimes there is too many at once. Sometimes you believe you deserve to feel this way. Sometimes you lack the support and help you need. Sometimes therapy doesn’t work. Sometimes medication doesn’t work. Sometimes visualising the breath in your lungs isn’t helpful. Sometimes overthinking feels like the right thing to do, when it isn’t. A variety of factors enable depression to exist and live within you, yet rely constantly on you to survive.
Dee needs her narrator. She needs a host in order to mean something. To be very honest, for me this has meant any thoughts about ending my life have stemmed from this aspect of the illness. It needs me to exist. Therefore, if I didn’t, it wouldn’t either. That, is where overthinking is not helpful and I urge anyone who feels this way and cannot help but believe this, to seek help or even share this post with someone to help explain how you feel. I often need to remember Dee does not deserve to take my life, you must remember this too.
Depression is more than sadness; it is unpredictable and ever-changing. On the good days, it is possible to ignore. On the worst days, you feel at a loss. The best days are the ones you get one baby-step closer to finding a place of safety and kindness which does not punish you for being there.
Take solace in the fact it is more because you are more. You are more than you give yourself credit for.