Clinical depression is a disease. It’s a very serious illness that is as hazardous to one’s health as is heart failure, cancer, or epilepsy. I should know. I have suffered from depression since I was a child, though I wasn’t diagnosed with it until I was a teenager, which is when I started being treated for it. I don’t know how it feels to be depression-free because it’s been a part of my life for so long. All I can do is go on with things as they are. Medications rarely do the trick for me – they just make me feel a lot sicker than I am.
Around eight years ago, bipolar disorder was added to my clinical depression. Suddenly, it became more important to treat this part of my illness, even though I repeatedly told the doctors that I had no real mood swings, not anything that could be called ‘mania’ at least. I simply felt down, blue, dejected and rejected and like such a loser that it was all I could stomach being around people I perceived as ‘successful’ even when they were not. I felt a great deal of envy towards those I considered ‘normal’. I cried a lot at times, but there were also periods when I couldn’t shed a tear. I would often feel cold and empty and would sit there staring into space for minutes at a time.
According to the Mayo Clinic website, bipolar disorder:
formerly called manic depression, causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). When you become depressed, you may feel sad or hopeless and lose interest or pleasure in most activities. When your mood shifts in the other direction, you may feel euphoric and full of energy. Mood shifts may occur only a few times a year or as often as several times a week.
HelpGuide.org lists the following symptoms for bipolar disorder:
- Feeling unusually “high” and optimistic or extremely irritable
- Unrealistic, grandiose beliefs about one’s abilities or powers
- Sleeping very little, but feeling extremely energetic
- Talking so rapidly that others can’t keep up
- Racing thoughts; jumping quickly from one idea to the next
- Highly distractable, unable to concentrate
- Impaired judgment and impulsiveness
- Acting recklessly without thinking about the consequences
- Delusions and hallucinations (in severe cases)
- Feeling hopeless, sad, or empty
- Inability to experience pleasure
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Physical and mental sluggishness
- Appetite or weight changes
- Sleep problems
- Concentration and memory problems
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Thoughts of death or suicide
I don’t experience any ‘highs’ or optimism nor do I have any unrealistic, grandiose beliefs…I suffer from insomnia but I do manage to get a few hours worth of sleep every night, though I never feel energetic even when I’ve downed a couple cups of caffeinated coffee. I’m not subjected to delusions or hallucinations, and I don’t talk so rapidly that others cannot keep up. I do have racing thoughts, however…and I am unable to keep my mind on most things, including TV shows and movies that normally would hold my interest.
Being easily distracted is one reason it has taken me 4 years to write another screenplay. I do have a bit of impulsiveness because I have done things and said shit that I would not ordinarily do or say. I often feel hopeless, irritable, sluggish, and find it difficult to feel any pleasure in pastimes that used to give me so much joy, such as reading and writing. I sometimes don’t feel any thing when I hear about people dying or being murdered or whatever. It’s like I don’t even care about people.
I want to be free of this depression. I want this bipolar disorder to vanish forever. I want it all gone. I want to be normal, whatever that means. I want to be like other people, the people I’m jealous of, the people who are able to live their lives passionately, filled with hope and not with utter despondency. I want to feel alive, not half dead and drained of energy. I want to be free! Will I ever be normal? Will I ever get to live life the way those that are free of depression and bipolar disorder get to live theirs?