“Now if there's a smile on my face it's only there trying to fool the public…But don't let my glad expression give you the wrong impression… Like a clown I appear to be glad…But ain't too much sadder than the tears of a clown when there's no one around – Smokey Robinson
The saddest kind of sad is when your tears can’t even fall and you feel nothing. Your world has ended, you don’t cry, you don’t speak, you don’t hear, you don’t see. You just stay there sunken and hollow and for a few moments the heart dies. Someone one said that there is no greater pain than a broken heart. So much pain, anger, fear, and anxiety but a light at the end the tunnel mixed with a gleam of hope, heartbreak isn’t too bad. But when heartbreak is accompanied by loneliness, despondency, and dejection, the feeling that you feel is no longer heartbreak, but depression and it is feeling that is hard to shake.
By definition, depression is a mental condition characterized by feelings of severe despondency and dejection, typically with feelings of inadequacy and guilt, often accompanied by the lack of energy and disturbance of appetite and sleep; but, by reality depression is something much worse. What most people do not understand about depression or those who suffer from it, is that it is not life that is bad but the very thought of life being so cruel that one can no longer go on living. Unlike other mental illnesses depression is onset, meaning that is triggered. Risk factors include personal or family history of depression, major life changes, trauma, or stress, or certain physical illnesses and medication.
For a person living day by day with depression, words cannot describe the sudden onset of helplessness or the overwhelming feeling of sadness that a person deals with on a daily basis. Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the U.S. and no matter how many people may feel the same way as you do, you always feel that you are the only one, but that the tragedy of depression, not only do we feel utterly helpless and abandoned by the world, but we also know that there are only a few people who truly understand and almost none who are willing to believe that life can be just that bad.
When you have to face a world that has done nothing but brought harm to you, some days 24 hours is too long to handle so you try to take each day hour by hour, moment by moment. But as the day passes fear, anger, sadness, anxiety, and loneliness attack you minute by minute until you break. That's the thing about depression; a person can survive almost anything as long as they can see a light at the end of the tunnel, but depression is insidious. So insidious that it compounds daily making it impossible to see the light. So you give up before you reach the end of the tunnel and no matter how close you are to the light, the fog that is riddled with fear, anguish, disappointments, panic, anger, discouragement, and anxiety keeps you locked in a room without exits, a cage without a key. You become hollow.
"Many people seem to think depression is something one could just get over and that all depression is the same, but no two people are affected the same way and until it happens to you, you cannot tell someone that their feelings of despair and hopelessness are not valid."
Many people seem to think depression is something one could just get over and that all depression is the same, but no two people are affected the same way and until it happens to you, you cannot tell someone that their feelings of despair and hopelessness are not valid. Yes, we all experience hardships that could cause us to have small battles with depression, in fact about 5% to 10% of the general population gets depressed. We would not be human if we did not feel sadness from time to time, but for some people that sadness is an everyday battle.
Depression is not random and people who are battling depression do not pick and choose which days are good and which days are bad. Every day is a “could be” meaning that it could be better, or that it could be worse. So how do you overcome depression? I really wish I had the answer. Most people who battle with depression usually deal with the symptoms for a lifetime. There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for depression and it usually boils down to what works for each individual.
When you are living with HIV, depression is something that we know all too well. In fact, rates of depression are 60% higher in the HIV community than the national average, but don’t expect to be depressed because of HIV and don’t think you have to be depressed because you have HIV. For most people living with HIV, their battle with depression is not even HIV related but HIV adjacent (i.e. stigma, discrimination, ostracism, and other HIV-related prejudices). Depression is not a sign of weakness, it doesn’t mean you’re going crazy, and you will not just get over it. When you are battling depression there is only one goal, to make it through the day. All journeys are not aligned, there will be setback, and you will feel like you want to give up and die. But when you are lost in the dark remember that stars can’t shine without the darkness. So we have to learn how to cope, take setbacks in stride, keep life in perspective and stay focus on the light.
Depression can often lead to suicide and suicidal thought especially among adolescents and young adults under the age of 25. For those of us who are battling depression it’s important to have compassion for ourselves and to take actions to overcome this state, which includes seeking help. Remember that no matter what our inner voice may be telling us, the situation is far from hopeless.
IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS IN CRISIS OR IN NEED OF IMMEDIATE HELP, CALL The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline — 1-800-273-TALK (8255). This is a free hotline available 24 hours a day to anyone in emotional distress or suicidal crisis.
“Depression is nothing more than the personification of disappointments in our lives. Depression begins with disappointment and it festers and leads to discouragement. Moral of the story: surround yourself with positivity and encouragement.” – Isaac Joseph