There is a saying: ‘no man is an island’. While that is true in many or most cases, people with depression find that this saying doesn’t apply to them. The whole meaning of that quote points to an absolute inclusion of every single person into the social and emotional network of the human race. ‘NO man…’ implies that I belong and you belong, and we all belong. Not one of us is alone. But we are, aren’t we?
People with depression have a very personal and powerful feeling of abandonment, loneliness and isolation. One can be surrounded by friends and family or be part of a huge crowd of happy partiers and still feel completely and hopelessly alone. Not only do we feel isolated but we also isolate ourselves. And each time we decide to isolate ourselves, exceptions aside, we are stepping down deeper into depression.
This direct relationship between depression and isolation reminds me of a toxic relationship I once had: my lover was very possessive, jealous of, and threatened by my friends and family, and, a lazy, boring person. He made me feel guilty about going out and socializing, but when I was with him, we didn’t do anything together. I was alone, in and out. His demands and possessive behavior made me a hermit. Is this familiar?
Depression is the possessive, toxic lover who wants all of our attention for itself.
Doesn’t depression do the same to us? Like a possessive lover, it makes us alone. It doesn’t offer us anything except a barren life, deprived of joys and warmth, empty of any activities except paying attention to it. Depression is the possessive, toxic lover who wants all of our attention for itself. Everything that makes us feel alive, that gives us strength, builds our personality, helps us evolve into better humans, these are what depression sabotages. We lose interest in our favorite pastimes, like hobbies and sports, we feel afraid and tired of socializing with anyone, even our loved ones, and we struggle to even get out of the house to buy food from the store around the corner.
Depression sucks the life out of everything that we do and feel. Why? Because it feels threatened. Yes, it’s something that lives deep within us, but remember, it’s not us. We’re not an island. We’re not hermits. We’re an individual island which is part of a human archipelago, where we are all connected. Where we have fun, and experience life, and give life in a myriad of ways to different things. We receive life from laughter but we also give life to new laughter. We exchange different joys, create moments, and birth new ways of living. We are fun and energetic and adventurers in life. We are creators.
Depression turns us against ourselves. It doesn’t want energy, joy, creation. It feels threatened by it so it snuffs it out.
If we look at depression as a parasite that possesses us then we can understand the changes that overcome us when we’re deep in it. Depression turns us against ourselves. It doesn’t want energy, joy, creation. It feels threatened by it so it snuffs it out. We become hopeless, disinterred, apathetic shadows of ourselves. If we compare who we are when we’re depressed to our usual self, it turns out that the more we do the things we love, the more we claim who we truly are and live the way we’re meant to, the weaker it gets. The more boring, devoid of life and isolated our life becomes, the stronger it gets.
Just like any living organism, parasitic depression wants to protect itself and in the process, it destroys us. It wants us to stay at home, away from friends and family, away from joys and action and life. It wants us moping, ruminating, feeling desperate because we know what we’re feeling is not us and it’s not what we want.
Then, why are we giving it so much control? Why are we letting it turn us into lifeless puppets? We need to do exactly what it hates, exactly what makes it weaker: go out, have fun with people, seek to discover new activities we might enjoy, infuse life and energy into ourselves.
Given its nature, the parasite will still beg cunningly for attention, just waiting to trap us again, but it will have been diminished.
This will gradually make us stronger, and stronger against it. With time and personalized treatment, involvement in the life around us has a key part to play in making our depression just a shadow of its former threat. Given its nature, the parasite will still beg cunningly for attention, just waiting to trap us again, but it will have been diminished.
Remember who you are and ask your friends or family to drag you out to that thing you declined to go to but would otherwise enjoy. Keep your hands busy with a hobby and your mind will follow. Force yourself to go to a park and play with a puppy. Then do it all again tomorrow. It doesn’t have to be this or anything I tell you. You find your own steps out of it. What are these steps for you, to help you reclaim your individuality and your life?