It’s raining and I’m sitting by the open balcony window. I’m wearing long jeans and my feet are cold. I somehow like this weather. It fits how I feel inside right now. And I like the sound of raindrops hitting the windows and the roof of my apartment. But hey it’s August! This summer has been so weird. Colder. So much rain. Rarely seen a clear blue sky. I crave summer nights, those nights you dream of on grey winter days, nights spend in shorts and shirt, strolling through the streets, sharing stories and laughs. And I crave someone to share them with.
I aways had difficulties with friendships. I moved 800km away while in primary school and then had to change schools again after just a couple of months. I always felt different. Had a hard time connecting. And I don’t think I was easy to be around, considering how self conscious I was and how much there was going on in my life all the time.
There was a time when I thought I’m better with guys than with girls but then I had to learn that true friendship between girls and boys is a rare thing, because more often than not other interests get in the way.
After lots of painful experiences I have a hard time letting people close. I think a major problem is the really negative perception I have of myself. And fear. Of not being good enough, messing up or being hurt. Again. But also this longing for real, deep, authentic connection that seems to be so rare. Not just superficial aquaintances or hidden motifs.
My mental health struggles kept me completely isolated for a very long time. Since September last year when I started to spiral down into another depression hole I spent most of my time alone at home. Declining every invitation that I could, only attending events I really had to. Luckily through my job I sometimes was “forced” to leave my safe environment and I was gifted with insanely beautiful experiences, like going to LA in January or travelling to Iceland in March… I’m beyond grateful for these and for somehow being able to pull myself together when I had to.
But especially the winter months were so indescribable tough. I remember after my uncle died in December I just spent weeks in bed, paralysed. Didn’t celebrate my birthday. Spent New Year’s alone. Most days I didn’t even want to wake up in the morning. I just didn’t want to feel anything. There were moments when I thought I just can’t go on. I had been tumbling all throughout autumn but this was just the tip on the iceberg that made me fall down completely.
I also really struggled with emotional eating, especially at night time, probably to somehow numb the pain that was just too much for me to bare – but it just made things worse because I felt so uncomfortable and more and more disconnected from myself. I didn’t eat any junk – but just the amounts were far from healthy, especially late at night – disturbing my sleep and making me wake up with stomach ache and bloating… which made leaving my apartment to see people even more impossible.
So I spent weeks without any real conversation, tucked away in my bed room. Considering how vital human connection is, I definitely did the worst thing possible in order to get better. The science on this is actually mind blowing. Studies show that social relations are a stronger predictor of survival than what we eat, how we exercise and even how much alcohol we drink. Loneliness and isolation increase the likelihood of disease and death by 200 to 500 per cent. We are a deeply social species. Our bodies are literally built to crave love and connection, whether it might be friendship, family, romantic love, sex, a close connection to a pet or a strong social group.
But suffering from depression makes it insanely hard to connect. It’s so hard to explain what you are going through. Considering how much stigma there is around mental health issues it’s just natural to have doubts if anyone would understand.
How do you ask for help without coming across as needy? How do you share what’s going on without scaring someone away? There is already so much shame and guilt involved. The last thing you want is to be a burden for anyone. It’s a vicious circle. You need a feeling of belonging more than anything. But opening up seems to be the scariest thing ever…
When you have the flu or a broken leg and you spend all day in bed – that’s normal. But when you stay in because you are in emotional pain – how do you explain that? How do you put the pain into words? This feeling of being in the middle of an ocean, strength slowly fading but without anything to hold on to? How do you explain that all you want to do at times is drown, to finally end this nightmare you are going through?
It’s not even the suffering you fear most. But the disappointed look on the face of a loved one you opened up to.
Depression is not something you just experience when things are going wrong. Depression is this dark energy. A monster holding you tight. Numbing every positive emotion, taking away all the light. You become afraid of life. Because every lived second is so painful that it feels like tearing you apart. And because it seems like you just keep failing because you are so damn paralyzed. A living hell you just can’t escape.
At times it felt like there is no way out. And so I thought about that way. Thought about how it just would just finally stop hurting. But I realized that I am not my thoughts. Decided that the only way out is through.
During the last weeks I finally started to say yes to invitations, spent a lot more time around people and even asked for brunch dates myself. I’m conquering my social anxiety and it’s beautiful to see how life responds when you take action. I’m no longer standing still and exciting projects are in the tube.Everything I do to heal finally starts to pay off. Well, it’s rather two steps forward, one step backward but I do see progress. Meditation, gratitude, inner work, healthy habits, strong routines,… all these are helping immensely. (I’m gonna get into detail on everything in another post, so feel free to leave all your questions done below!)
I’m still living with this monster inside of me, but it is more and more manageable.
Yes I crave someone to hold me. A friend to call when I feel like falling.
But I’m slowly learning to be the one who catches me. I’m starting to be there for myself.
I am grateful for every part of my journey. Even the darkest places this took me down to. Everything happened exactly the way it should for me to be where I am today. I am no longer fearing myself, no longer afraid of the pain, the darkness within me, my fragility and vulnerability. No longer feeling the need to run away or numb whatever emotion comes up.
My hurt gave me hope. And faith. Faith in myself. In life. And yes, in love.
I know this post is crazy messy. It’s not easy to talk about this. Far from. But we have to stop making mental health a taboo topic. Because it is a massive problem. Since you started reading this post a handful of people somewhere in the world had taken their own life because of depression.
No one should struggle alone. No one should be afraid to ask for help. No one should feel like there is no way out.
Because there is. Always.