What A Bad Day Looks Like

Since coming out about having depression, and about my suicidal past, I’ve been lucky to have people around me who have promised to always be there on the bad days. The thing is, I’m still not quite ready to let people fully see my bad days. It’s not quite shame because I know I can’t help it, but it’s more like I don’t want to put them through the agony of seeing me so miserable. The days come and go as they please, without warning or regular timing, as if a silent storm that may not seem to do much damage, but enough in a row can cause substantial damage. Some days I may wake up fine, and suddenly I’ll be hit in the face with a ton of bricks, knocking me back and taking me utterly by surprise for no apparent reason, and other days I’ll wake up and instantly know that it’s not going to be an easy day.

One thing people who don’t have depression wonder about is how it feels to be depressed, especially on the bad days. You can’t see my depression by looking at me, and there are no measurable symptoms, so it’s difficult to explain what bad days are like. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to think about the best way to explain it and looked for other people’s explanations of what depression feels like, but I can’t find one that quite fits. Some say it’s like being weighed down, like there’s a ton of bricks on your chest or attached to your limbs, while others say everything is just dark. That’s partially true, but doesn’t really explain how it is for me. You see, my worst days somehow always happen when it’s bright outside. It’s a beautiful day, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and there are plenty of opportunities to have a good time. In that sense, there is no darkness – my world is bright but I’m dark inside. Sometimes it feels like I’m hollow or empty inside, but that black hole of nothingness within me is full of something I desperately want to get rid of but can’t label. I suffer through all this in silence, because other people can’t see it. They can’t feel the paradox of being filled with darkness and being hollow at the same time, they can’t hear my horrible thoughts, and they can’t see the energy being sucked right out of me by just existing.

I isolate myself on my worst days. I lock myself in my room and watch movies that I’m really not paying attention to and curl up in bed, wishing I could fall asleep but am somehow wide awake though I’m so exhausted it physically hurts. I talk to no one and any sort of interaction, even via text or Facebook seems far too difficult. I refuse to let my despair show, even though what I need more than anything is some love or comfort. Loneliness washes over me, drowning me until it feels like I can’t breathe properly, and despair clouds my vision to the point that I can see nothing as good or beautiful or worthwhile. I’ve been told I’m so strong for being so open about my depression and the struggles I face, but it’s easy to talk about it when I’m feeling okay, and when I know I’m a lot better and can be inspiring or hopeful for others. I’ll answer any question about my journey and lived experience, but the second I’m feeling vulnerable again, it becomes my secret. Faking a smile became second nature, that now it still seems easier to put on that fake front than actually show what I’m feeling. It’s still too hard for me to go to someone and say “I’m not okay, and I need you.” It’s an unfortunate circumstance, because the times I need support and people around me the most are the times I don’t want it and refuse it, even though paradoxically I want to not be alone more than anything. I don’t expect people to be mind readers, and know that it’s impossible, but on those days I wish someone would just know without me having to say anything. I do my best to be fiercely independent, and the stubborn part of my brain would rather suffer alone and in silence, than allow myself to feel needy. I’ve been praised for how in tune I am with my emotions, and how impressive my ability to express how I am feeling and vocalize it is, but yet the days I want to scream out and show my sadness and anger and fear and frustration are the days I stay silent.

Sometimes on bad days I can’t fake that smile. On those days, there’s no hope for improvement because it is what it is. No amount of funny movies or good music can lift my spirits, because I have no motivation and all I can do is wait for it to pass. In an ideal world, I wouldn’t have to have those days alone, but it’s too awkward for me to allow someone to see that very private and secretive part of me. Even now, writing about it is one thing, but actually letting someone see it is another. Sometimes, I just shut down. I become a robot, going through the motions emotionless, tuning out the world and showing absolutely no reaction to anything, good or bad. My thoughts are scattered fragments of incomplete negative thoughts, refusing to let me focus on anything no matter how hard I try, and basic tasks – communicating, eating, functioning are too big of an ask.

I’ve accepted that bad days are just a part of who I am, and there is little I can do to help it, aside from asking those who love me for the support and care I need, but it still can’t fix it. I’ll never be okay that there are times when I’m a completely different person, but that’s okay. We all have things about ourselves that we don’t necessarily like, but we still find ways to accept them, just as I accept my bad days even if I don’t like them. You see, there’s a myth that with medication and psychotherapy depression just goes away. That may be true for some people, but it isn’t true for me. I value myself and do my best to take care of myself, but it doesn’t mean that some days are harder than others. In fact, some days are much, much harder than others, but with proper medication and therapy I have way more good days, and challenging days are less frequent. Because I got the help I needed, I am able to recognize now that there are bad days, but it’s not a bad life, and the days will eventually go away. It can be frustrating not only for me, but for the people around me to sometimes be unsure of which Ameera they are going to get – will I be funny and energetic, or will it be one of those days where my blank stare is all I have to offer.

I have hope that I’ll learn to allow people close enough to see me on the days when crying is my only viable option, and that they will stand by me and not abandon me for being the way I am. I have hope that in time I won’t need that very often, even less than I do now. Most importantly, I have hope that I’ll continue to fight depression so it never has control over me and that someday I’ll be able to fight it without ever feeling like I have to hide what I go through. I know that by having hope, I’m winning the battle against clinical depression, because quite simply, depression is the absence of hope.

Keep Surviving By Living

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One comment

  1. Girl! You got me crying up in here! I can relate to almost all of it. And you might not think of yourself as courageous for expressing this side of yourself all the time, but I can assure you, speaking out in the face of stigma is no easy thing. Good for you!

    I would end off by something cheesy like ‘Keep smiling!’ but I know what it’s like to put on a mask, so instead, keep getting better at being you. 🙂

    Like

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