I cannot tell you when I last remember being happy. I cannot tell you what it feels like not to be depressed. This is one of the lovely parts of having dysthymia (aka persistent depressive disorder (PDD). While dysthymia is not as severe as major depression, it is a chronic condition. With major depression you can remember a time when you were happy, there is a baseline, you can be diagnosed with major depression if you have symptoms for a least two weeks. With dysthymia it's two years.
What sucks is to have dysthymia and then throw depression on top of it and have what is called double depression. Been there done that. Being in that mental state is horrible. I know all too well to what it's like to swim in the muck. When I was a teenager there was a time period where I was in such a dark place that I tried to take my own life.
I didn't try once or twice. I tried seven times in a four year time period. I was never institutionalized because no one ever knew. It was a journey I walked all alone. It was dark, isolating and painful. I did not understand what was happening to me or that I even had a mental illness. Back then, you didn't talk about mental health like you do now. To even mention that you tried suicide was taboo. I have to say even now, there is a still a kind of distance.
I get it. What do you even say to someone who has made an attempt? I don't have the answers for that. I wish I did but I know it's hard for both parties. I often felt misunderstood and the worst part I didn't know how to explain how I felt. I didn't have anyone to confide in either. It was a very solitary journey and then for a moment in time it wasn't.
It's hard to ask for help when you don't know what kind of help you need. I remember in college when the school counselor told me that no one could help me until I helped myself. It never made sense to me and kind of irritating since I was in her office every week. The whole point of me being there was for her to help. Insert the eye roll here folks.
I have mentioned my friend Sean on here from time to time. He left a lasting impression on my life and being friends with him was not easy. Sean helped me get my life back, or at least helped me reach a better place in the world. Sean was the first person that I opened up to about my suicide attempts and how I felt. He did not run away but stood with me. The reason why my darkness did not scare him as it did to so many others was because he had been there too.
Sean was my brother in darkness. He understood the world, the path, the journey. It felt nice to know I wasn't so alone in that world. I can't remember a time in my life when I was not depressed but I can remember a time in my life where I had someone who understood the darkness, understood the pain, the negative thoughts, the inner saboteur, the struggle of trying to make it to the next day. Sean gave me hope that I could have a life that while dark, didn't have to be as dark as it once was.
I hope all of you out there who may be struggling find your own Sean. May you find someone that helps lessen the darkness for you.