When the dark thoughts take control, and frustration seems like an understatement, it’s imperative to know there are others out there who understand these ailments of the mind.
Most people can recall a length of time when they’ve felt depressed, but in many instances these bouts with depression are relatively short lived. However, there are many people who live in a contemporary, seemingly never-ending war within themselves. Their minds contort in a battleground, and the only casualties are pieces of themselves.
From my own experience, depression is a ball and chain shackled to a person’s ankle. Sometimes, if the day is kind, that ball and the chain just sits there.
However, it’s always within close proximity, causing soreness for the ankle, but after enough time passes one could almost forget it was there — almost.
On other days, the weight of that restraint is all too noticeable. Some people are fortunate enough to find social interaction, making friends and enjoying life easy to do. For others, those same actions become nearly impossible, thanks to the weight around their ankle.
My childhood was a crucible for me. I only had a few real friends, no aspirations for the future and even less self-esteem.
My home life was plagued with emotional unrest, financial crisis and substance abuse. To me, the word “home” was synonymous with a gut-wrenching sense of anxiety for what might happen that day. Loud arguments, bill collectors calling at every hour and numbing my mind with TV was all I expected while walking home from school.
Don’t get me wrong — my parents are the best people on this planet. In the midst of an impossible situation, my parents did the best they could with the tools they were given. They are still together, and share a bond with each other that I can only dream to find in with a person someday.
However, 11-year-old me didn’t understand this at the time, the only thing I was aware of was my own shortcomings.
I knew I lacked stability, athleticism, friends, aesthetic appeal and the pageantries associated with having money. I felt like I had nothing, so therefore I was nothing. Instead of focusing on things that an average 11-year-old should be focused on, I expended my energy on figuring out how to be content with my life.
Directionless and afraid, I found myself thinking about what it would be like to simply not exist. I never contemplated committing suicide, but I thought about not existing as if I had never been born. Before I was a teenager, I wondered what others lives would be like without my existence. I had little to no self-worth, so how much could my absence really affect anybody else?
My own personal social problems, combined with the stress of financial crisis and depression manifested into something that ruled my life for years.
Fortunately, I was able to escape my own demons by moving away from the town I had resided in throughout my childhood. After moving I met my best friends to date, my family has since healed from the emotional beating we had endured, and we have all found our own ways to move forward from the past. I still bear my own metaphorical scars, but I won’t let them dictate my actions anymore.
Unfortunately, there are many out there who can’t escape themselves, no matter how far away they go. To those people, I admire the strength it takes to move forward every day. I know how excruciating a bad day can be, but I also know how blissful a good one is. Things that are worth having never come easy, and life is no exception.
Depression is one heck of a beast to take on alone, and if I had stayed where I was I don’t know if that’s a fight I could have won. However, there are those who care, and those who can help.
Dragging that ball and chain will be so worth it on the day it can be taken off.
Andrew Ward can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org