I don’t like roller coasters. I’ve never liked roller coasters. Perhaps it’s because I don’t find the adrenaline rush of going so fast you can’t breathe appealing, or maybe it’s because I get nauseous when I’m flying in every possible direction. I really think it’s the uncertainty and lack of control that I don’t like; I don’t know how fast I’m going, I don’t know where I’m going, I don’t know what is going to happen next, and most importantly, I don’t know how to stop. Depression is a never ending roller coaster ride. It’s a ride I can’t get off, no matter how much I want to. It’s a ride that makes me look like I’m laughing and smiling on the outside, but I can barely breathe and am terrified on the inside. It’s a ride where you feel everything and nothing all at once.
I know many people love roller coasters, but in this case, there is absolutely nothing to love about it. The most reassuring part of a regular roller coaster is that you know it will end, and you know that you will be safe. These are two assurances I never had the luxury of having with my depression. Depression is full of ups and downs, some days you’re going up and you feel fine, but you have that constant fear that a down could come at any moment. Other days you’re going down so fast you don’t even realize what is happening. I think that’s the part that everyone forgets, myself included: there are always downs, even when I’m smiling and having a good time, there are still downs. Some days are harder than others, and some days I’m isolated and can’t leave my bed. These days are not a thing of the past – they are consistent and prevalent, and sometimes hinder me from living my life properly. When I’m on a downward spin, my usual techniques don’t work. I’m not myself – I’m foggy and can’t focus or do anything. I don’t have the energy to do “one fun thing”, and I can’t express how I’m feeling in words, so talking isn’t an option either. The thing with these little tricks and tips is that they don’t work if you’re really not okay – they can only work if you’re feeling kind of okay.
The scariest part for me is when I’ve just begun to go down the roller coaster, and I don’t know how much worse it’s going to get or how long it is going to last. All I can do is hope for the best and wait it out. The uncertainty is absolutely crippling. I’ve been asked how I know I won’t get to the point where I’m suicidal again. In all honesty, I don’t know that I won’t get to that point, but I know every down I have is different. The main difference is now I have hope. Hope can be very powerful, and just as a roller coaster isn’t scary if you have faith that you’ll survive and you won’t crash, I have faith that I can get stable again, and the downward slope will end. They’re not fun, and sometimes they can be really scary, but they’re not permanent, and that is something I hope I will never forget or lose sight of. Every ride is more fun if you have someone beside you who is there to hold your hand if you get too scared, and my illness is no different. I’m grateful to everyone who has been along for the ride, because it’s a hell of a lot less scary when you’re not alone.
Keep Surviving By Living.