Cobain, Robin Williams, Chris, Heath… the list of celebrities we’ve lost to depression is endless. But there are many closer to home that we don’t hear about.
I lost a gem of a friend and brother last week. Some say it was suicide, blaming depression. After five days of hurting, I wanted to write. And when I opened my laptop, this popped up, an old piece i wrote while fighting demons myself a while ago.
I met my shaman early 2015, and from then up for the next six to seven months, I was living a life of bliss. When i got back to India, people usually walked by me without recognizing me – cos i’d lost over 25 kilos living in the amazon. And then they pulled a shocked face and silence when they realised it was me. Many thought I’d gone through some near-death illness. Or drowned in an ocean of drugs. My own folks thought my abused liver had finally given up on me. On the contrary, i’d never felt healthier. And happier. Of course, happiness is relative and all that, but i was beyond happiness.
For more than a year, i went through this state of bliss. Almost a feeling of invincibility. Walking on clouds. There was no shortage of anything. Love, friends, joy, laughter, I thought i couldn’t be any happier. And i thought it was how it’d be forever. Riding the wave of absolute ecstasy.
One thing i forgot during this phase, was nothing really lasts. Impermanence – that old Buddhist term.
Fast forward to April 2016. Something changes. Before that change, I feel different. Like a warning signal in the pit of my stomach. Something bad is around the corner. Dark clouds on the horizon. I love dark clouds, but these were going to last way longer than i thought, and they weren’t the dark clouds you see above the ocean.
In the few months since, everything in my life has come crashing down around me. The love, the warmth, the laughter and joy. I tried looking for answers, but that search drove me deeper and deeper into isolation, depression, and a never ending tunnel with no light in sight. Things slipped away from me and i could do nothing about it. A big fat FUCK YOU from bliss itself.
Every thing i touch turns to dust. Every move i make is jinxed. I’ve gone from self-loving to self-doubting, self-admonishing, maybe even self-loathing.
Once that self-love turns into loathing, things get very dark. Both outside, and inside your head. A cold wave creeps into your otherwise warm senses. Compassion gets drained out. Confidence gets deflated. Groove gets killed.
That pit in your stomach is now a black hole. Sucking you from the inside. Leeching on life force. Seeking to destroy. My own mind has turned into my greatest enemy.
At this period in time, the only resort in my isolation and loneliness has been yoga, meditation, and books. On the rare occasion i push myself to write, like now.
Just like enlightenment can hit anyone without warning, so can depression. Because I forgot equanimity. I held on to the bliss without respect, i took it for granted. Like a child with the cotton candy, i greedily chomped on, till it ran out.
Suddenly there was no ground beneath my feet.
I couldn’t be happy for myself. There was nothing to be happy about. I couldn’t meet people for fear of showing my dark unhappy side. I couldn’t talk to people. I couldn’t share love and joy with anyone. The moodiness was clamouring over me. I started to sleep longer hours, telling myself that the numbness of sleep was better than the dark of the waking hours. Better than all the thoughts running through my conscious mind. The dreams I saw were sometimes better than what real life had for me when i woke up, which was – absolutely nothing. I was never one for making plans, but now i couldn’t cook a dish without fucking it up. Hopeless. Powerless.
Soon I was in a corner, hiding from friends and family. Hiding the truth. Telling myself this was going to end in the worst way possible. Get a grip get a grip. This is going to end in the most peaceful way possible. Kill yourself. Get a grip.
‘How are you Bijou?’
Here’s the thing though. There is no cure. There is no drug. There is no short cut. I have to fight it.
The only healing, is acceptance. Time only heals if you accept you need healing.
Ride the wave, fall down. Climb up, try again, ride again. Sometimes it’s a long ride. Sometimes it’s a quick crash.
I’ve got nothing to prove. I’ve got nowhere to run.
I survived that ordeal, for now. Things get better. Then things turn to shit. The wave will continue to make you, or break you. Accept whatever the outcome, but don’t give up on it. But really, despite how many times you tell people to ‘talk to someone, get help’, most don’t. It’s just how this works. It’s the greatest battle we fight, the one with our own mind – our best friend, and our greatest enemy.
Sometimes we win, sometimes we jump.
Next time you come across someone ‘not being themselves’, talk to them. Be proactive. Cos they will not talk about it. They will not open out to you, cos they’re scared of being vulnerable. They’re scared of being seen as weak and feeble. They’re terrified you will turn your back on them cos you only love them when they’re happy. I know cos i was there. I have family and friends who’d have cursed me if i did some terrible shit. A lot, a lot. I’m grateful for them, and that gratitude alone helped me fight harder.
The opposite of depression is not euphoria, it’s connection. Connect with those who need it.