I’ve been thinking for months about how I want to approach this topic. I’ve talked about it before but I feel that it is something that doesn’t receive much attention. As I write today, I’m going to be expressing a lot of experiences that I have on the subject. The feelings I will be expressing are in no way a cry for help. I am not seeking for sympathy. I do not need someone to take away the pain I will be talking about. I only wish to bring your attention to this prevalent ailment that grasps onto nearly 350 million people worldwide.
When I was seven years old I found myself sitting on a hill outside of my elementary school. I had folded my body into a ball, hoping that none of the kids that played at the bottom of the hill would see me. I didn’t know what was wrong. I wanted to hide away and felt that if I bundled myself up as tight as I could go that I’d disappear. I felt that if I just went away that the pain I was feeling would leave too. It wasn’t a physical pain but a pain so deeply rooted into my emotions that every ounce of my little body was fighting against it. As my friend approached me, asking me what was wrong, I couldn’t clearly describe the awful feeling I felt within me. This is the earliest memory I have with my depression.
Depression is something that plagues a lot of the people around me. We’ve sort of developed a quiet group of individuals that just don’t feel right about themselves. We don’t vocally express our feelings, but with silent nods we connect. There are times however, when the symptoms bubble to the surface and we huddle around each other in quiet understanding. One friend of mine was given a video that personified depression as a black dog. This black dog follows you around seeking as much attention as it can get. There are times when it’s easy to avoid the dog. You can distract yourself with work, school, family, hobbies, etc. But, there are other times when the dog is so demanding that it hogs all of your attention. When one of us is feeling exceptionally down in the dumps, we simply need to say that the black dog is being needy, and everyone else understands.
As hard as this is for me to say, I feel it’s something that I need to get out in the open. If you talk to me about this in person I will deny it. I don’t like saying it. But, so that maybe someone who stumbles upon this will finally feel like they aren’t alone, I say this- I, Jeremy Sorensen, have depression.
Depression isn’t something that will go away one day. It can leave for a long time, making you wonder if you were ever depressed at all, but it isn’t something that vanishes, never to come back. When it grabs a hold of you it never lets go. It stays with you through your good and bad times. It’s a black dog that sometimes fetches a stick but at other times makes you carry it to the stick. Depression is unique. When you don’t have it you wonder why others do. You say to yourself, “what do they have to be sad about?” You don’t mean to be insensitive but come across as brash nonetheless. You want to understand it but can’t fathom why someone would want to spend their day in bed. Depression is not something that someone desires to have in their life. It’s not something that someone seeks after. It’s a force that grips so tightly on your heart that at times you are left breathless.
I will go days without feeling depressed. I smile, sing, and altogether enjoy my life. I live in a sense of euphoria. In these moments I feel like nothing could ever get me down. Then, like molasses slowly dripping down an ice cube, depression burrows its little head into my mind. It slowly starts to chip away at the euphoria. I begin to feel tired and anxious. I have moments of anger and sadness. I can’t express how I feel and it hurts. I slide down a slide into a dark pit, not knowing when I’ll hit the bottom. I slide alone, feeling like there is no one around who understands. I wallow. I pine to be free of the war going on in my head. I feel like I’m a burden on my family. I convince myself that my friends don’t want me around. I silence myself. I want to crouch into a little ball and disappear. These thoughts rush through my mind like a bitterly cold wind. I know that I have caring friends and family. I know that they want to help me. I know that all I have to do is open my mouth and tell them how I’m feeling, but I can’t speak. My brain is telling me to open up and let the words flow, but my mind is telling me to run away and hide in a cave because that’s where I belong. As much as I try and overcome it by exercising, eating right, and trying to get as much sleep as I can, the depression doesn’t leave until it wants to. It latches onto the harbor of my thoughts and feelings and doesn’t set sail until it’s ready. Then, out of the blue, it’s gone and I’m left wondering why I ever felt sad in the first place.
It’s different for everyone. When I said it was unique I wasn’t being overly dramatic. It grasps people in different ways. I know someone who clings to the person that they love the most when they are down. They can’t get themselves to do anything other than clinging onto the person that they know won’t judge them for how they feel. There is someone I know that lashes out in frustration. Their emotions spiral down the anger trail. I have one friend whose thoughts drove him to trying to end his pain by taking so many pills that he would died. He’s still alive today, his body denying the amount of pills he took, making him vomit all of them up. I had a friend whose depression got so bad that he decided to take his rifle and shoot himself in the head. We were in High School and no one knew that he was suffering so much. He was popular. We all thought he was going to go places with his life. We didn’t realize that we’d go to school one day and hear that he killed himself. I was part of a group of kids who were called to set up grief rooms for individuals who needed a place to go. We had to set up the rooms and be there for other students who may need to talk. When the school day was over and I finally went home, I fell onto my couch and cried.
The worst moment of my life happened shortly after my friend committed suicide. I found that I couldn’t snap out of the depression that had coated my mind. There were moments where I’d write down things so dark and disturbing that I didn’t even know where they had come from. I started writing goodbye letters to family and friends. Death was a constant thought that plagued me. I wrote a list of things that I would need to do before I allowed death to take me. It got to the point that I knew how I was going to kill myself, when I was going to do, and where it would take place. I found solace in nothing and no one. I felt so alone in the world. As I reminisce about that moment, silent tears fall down my face. As someone who suffers with depression, I still find myself awestruck by some of the thoughts that I have streaming in my head. I find that my past is a dark pit of despair that I had fallen into. How I got out of the pit, or at least climbed to a higher level of it, I still don’t know.
You are not alone. There are people and resources that can help. Depression is a dirty thing that tries to manipulate everything that you do. But, you can take control of it. As hard as it is at times, you can work with your depression instead of simply letting it wash over you in a thick fog of black. You do not need to fight this battle by yourself. I have firsthand knowledge that depression makes you feel alone. It makes you feel like you are worthless. It drives into your mind thoughts of failure and misery. Even if you are not to a point where you can talk about it, know that you aren’t alone. Find someone, anyone, and simply attach to them. Cling to them as a beacon of hope. Make them the reason you survive. You don’t even need to tell them, simply make that person the reason you get out of bed. If you can’t find anyone then attach to me. I have room for whoever needs a little strength. You have worth.
Things took a turn for the better for me when I finally admitted to someone else that I had depression. I was a missionary for my church and things with my depression got to the point that I was beginning to have suicidal thoughts again. I felt like I had failed myself and the mission I had been sent on. A few people took notice and I found myself sitting in a room with a therapist. As much as I didn’t want to go see a “shrink” and as much as he didn’t seem to care about my problems, I needed to go. I needed to finally let out all of the pent up thoughts and feelings that had become cancerous to my soul. I expressed my deep-seeded depression. I expounded upon the moment I was going to take my own life. I illustrated the feelings I was having of intense failure and sadness. I felt empty and talking about it helped me fill up a little inside. He gave me some medication to help with my depression. The next few months were spent in his office making sure the pills were working how they should. It’s disheartening to admit that eventually I stopped taking them. They worked the way they were designed to work but left me with other problems that I didn’t want.
To those who might be reading my blog and don’t have depression, please, be kind. Depression isn’t just being sad. It isn’t something that a few shots of sunshine is going to cure. Depression is your saddest moment times infinity. When someone has depression they know that people love them and care about them but still feel like they are alone in the world. Depression is sitting in a room full of people and thinking that they would all be better off if you weren’t around. It’s hearing every nice and kind word that someone says about you, and often times even believing in those words, but feeling so unkind and mean as well. It’s a tornado of putrid thoughts that seep into every crevice of the soul. People with depression can’t simply snap out of it. They can’t just tell themselves to be happy. You might tell them to think of everything that they have to look forward to in life, everything that they have already been given, but to them life still seems hopeless. Please, be kind.
Everyone deals with depression in different ways. After I stopped taking the medication, I started bottling up the depression into tiny bottles. I placed these bottles on a shelf in the farthest reaches of my mind. To this day, I still place bottles on the shelf. Sometimes, a bottle or two will fall off and shatter, causing a hole to open under my feet that I can’t seem to escape falling into. I’ve learned however that simply letting people know that I’m depressed helps me cope. By putting a face to the sadness, I am able to realize that although life seems hopeless and all I want to do is lay in bed, eventually I’ll climb out of the hole again.
Please, I beg of each and every one of you who reads this blog, don’t let depression rule your life. Please, find a way to manage it. Whether you talk to a therapist and start taking meds or you simply let people into the dark pit of your feelings, please do something. Depression takes and takes until there is nothing left but a husk. It’s a parasite that needs to be cleansed. It is the black dog.
If you want a link to the black dog video, here's the link----> BLACK DOG
And here is another one----->ANOTHER ONE