For those who live with depression, this is not just an invisible illness, it is a life only lived by the grace of invisible courage.
I remember staring up at the seagulls printed on my bedroom curtains when I was seven years old.
The gulls were simple black outlines, alight on an invisible breeze. They drifted above the artist’s hint of an ocean, a solid deep blue mass of color below. I stared at this and pondered life, why I was here—on this earth, in this reality. It was an uneasy question and one that would come up repeatedly throughout my childhood, usually leading to anxiety and tears. I’ve since wondered if existential pondering might be one early symptom of a lifetime of depression.
The first unmistakeable depressive episode I had was when I was 20. A friend of mine, 23, had died in his sleep, with no apparent medical cause, and I was faced with the subject of my existence again—and what I determined to be the utter meaninglessness of it. Not long after this, I miscalculated the position of a 20 lb weight in the gym, and it fell on my foot, smashing into half my toes and splitting the bone of my big toe. The pain of this was like the worst toe stubbing I’d ever known–only it did not go away after a few minutes. It lasted weeks. I ended up on heavy pain killers and still could not sleep because of the pain. I was at college, far from home and the friends I thought I had made turned out not to be there when I needed them most.