Sorry for the short break. Many of you readers messaged me that I am yet to post the remaining articles in this discussion about Depression. I am happy to know that these articles are helping you deal with things and that you’re waiting for the rest of the write-ups.
The battle with depression is a fight one needs to fight every day. It wears one out. Especially on days like the last few I have had, where day in and day out I was exchanging emails and messages with other victims of depression. Talking so much about it takes its toll, and it did.
But I here I am. Back again. And I would keep bouncing back (inshallah!). Like I said before, this time I am going to strive harder than ever before to stay afloat.
Last week my husband came home from work earlier than usual and surprised me with tickets to a concert, by one of my favorite artists. Within an hour of receiving that news, we were all dressed up and out of the door; even though we knew that we’d reach there too early. But the thing is, in the recent past, I have said no to too many social events to know that if i dallied, I may not go at all. So I made a big show of it all. Posted updates on social media. Messaged a few friends. Picked out an outfit I love. Basically, all ways to pump up my enthusiasm in an effort to make sure I do go.
It’s like revving up an old car before it is finally ready to run. I know the drill only too well. My car, or in this case my fight with depression, is too old. It does need a hell lot of revving up.
That, incidentally, was the first symptom I noticed; many, many moons ago. Depression creeps up on you, slowly and stealthily, but if you try, sometimes you can hear its menacing footsteps. In my case, it was the inability to enjoy even the things that I had always loved. Music, dance, and books. So the girl who used to wake up to music stopped listening to any, for months altogether. Stopped reading books, because when I’d open one, the words would just turn fuzzy; and before I’d know it hours would have gone by and I would still be on the very page I started reading from. I waited for all these symptoms to pass, thinking it is just a phase. And go away they would, for a few days. But only to return, stronger and determined to wreak even more havoc.
The most common symptoms of depression are all too well-known. It manifests in different ways in different people. And so it is important for one to read up and research extensively before one can diagnose whether or not they are suffering from it. Sometimes the symptoms are temporary. But if they persist or keep coming back, it is best to consult a doctor.
I will talk about the symptoms that I noticed and the ones that keep recurring. In other words, the warning signs I spot that my next few days are going to be ‘bluer’ than usual.
- Excessive or no sleeping at all – I have been plagued by both these symptoms cyclically. There are times when I spend my entire day in bed. Calling it sleeping would be a misnomer, though. Because even after waking up after a 20-hour nap, you’re still as fatigued mentally and physically as you were when you hit the sack. This was my pattern until I had my son. After he was born, surprisingly, my excessive sleeping turned to insomnia mostly. And hence, during some of the ‘bluest’ of my days, I would go without proper sleep for weeks, managing just 2-3 hour shut eyes at the max. Of course, the fatigue would pile up and I would have frequent bouts of fever or something else and my body would just fold up completely.
- Excessive eating – Binging became my second biggest symptom, over the years. There are days when I find myself craving food non-stop. Although, I can’t say I feel hungry. The yearning emanates not from my stomach, but a pit somewhere far deeper in my body; a pit that I know wouldn’t get filled with all the food in the world and yet I give in to its demands. Worse, mostly it is a craving for foods which I know I shouldn’t be eating with the kind of metabolism I have. I know I am entering a vicious circle where first I will binge and then feel awful about it. And yet, I have zero self-control.
- No interest in social interaction – Now, I have always been a little reserved and only like to hang out with my innermost circle of friends, but thanks to my job, I learned to socialize easily when I needed to. But there are days when I cannot bring myself to do it, even if my life depends on it. On those days, I wish I have a cloak of invisibility. This too is a vicious circle. I know I would feel terrible about missing an important social engagement. I also know that dressing up, getting out of my house and meeting people would only do me some good. My husband insists on it. And yet I am not even able to get up and take a shower, let alone getting ready or actually going out.
In one particular incident – which was also a sort of a wake-up call for me that I need to start getting a better handle on my depression – I went one whole week without bread or milk, because my husband was out of town, we didn’t have a maid and I didn’t want to go out to the shop and buy it myself in order to avoid meeting people.
4. Irritability / Anger – This one is a rather new symptom for me. Something that surfaced after my baby was born. Perhaps the hormonal changes and the stress of raising a child worked as a catalyst. But that is the thing. Raising my son all by myself was my decision. I knew I had zero family infrastructure to count on (Grand-parents, aunts, uncles etc.) I also knew I do not want a stranger (nanny, play school) to raise my child. And so I did my best (or at least I thought I did) to steel myself up for the task ahead. But parenting is a task no one can ever adequately prepare themselves for, in my opinion. And hence, as my body’s and mind’s reserves depleted, and hormones ran amok, my anger started getting uglier and uglier.
Ironically, it was also this very anger, the out-of-control monster, that gave me the courage to finally speak out about my depression in an effort to try and tackle it more strongly. My anger and my irritability had started to affect my son. The poor kid would have no idea what would set me off for no reason and would just have to bear the brunt of something he was too young to understand.
Many of the readers who loved my novel ‘In The Light Of Darkness’ often talk about a particular scene which they felt is highly emotional and well written. It is a scene where one of the main characters Susan Pereira slaps her three year old for no fault of his, and then is frozen from the guilt and the horror of that repulsive act. She breaks down. But surprisingly the little one, overcoming his pain and shock, starts consoling his mother.
It took me all the courage I had to reveal to the readers, that the scene is so well written because it is all too true. It happened. To me. That was a moment that broke something inside of me. Perhaps, my faith in myself as a mother. But it also built something. A new resolve that I am going to try harder and beat this thing.
The above are only the symptoms I face and hence wanted to talk about. Please know that the symptoms of depression can be quite varied and depend on a person and his/her lifestyle. Reading up has been my one constant companion, in this fight. And I cannot assert its importance enough. So please, read, research, equip yourself with knowledge of what ails you. There are some tests available online for free that you can take to understand your condition better. Although I would still, above everything else, recommend speaking to a doctor about your symptoms and condition.
Remember, feeling ashamed of it or neglecting your symptoms would only make it all worse.
I wish you love and luck.