Anyone who has read J.K. Rowlings Harry Potter series knows about Dementors. Those dark faceless creatures shrouded in torn black cloth that silently attack the unknowing and suck the soul from their victims. The Dementors are described as leaving the person feeling cold, as if all the happiness has gone from the world. It's a frightening idea if you really consider it. Humans thrive on happiness. It's what we seek. Happiness is something different for everyone. Some folks are happy because of happy things-fuzzy puppies, ice cream cones, etc. Other folks get their jollies by dark things. Either way, we all seek personal happiness and gratification in one form or another.
The title of this blog is A Day with Dementors. To me it is the perfect description of what it is like to be depressed. I want to describe to my audience (all three of you-lol) what it feels like to go through a day with depression. It's not gory-but it isn't pretty either.
The alarm goes off...I force myself from the bed and begin my day because other people are counting on me. I don't really care about getting out of bed. I like sleeping-in the world of sleep I feel. My dreams are a reminder that there is a part of me that still feels and I cling to sleep like a life raft. Sleep is pain free-mostly. Sleep, while refreshing to some, doesn't make me feel all that better when I'm awake. I don't wake up ready to take on the world. My body and energy haven't been renewed. I wake up feeling blank.
Blank. Yes. That pretty much sums up what I'm feeling. Either blank or profound sadness brought on by being blank. Fear that my life will continue to go this way. Will I ever feel again? Will I ever take pleasure in simple things? Will I ever laugh again? I've almost forgotten how to laugh. Sometimes I force myself to laugh so that others won't think something is wrong...so they won't suspect how I'm really feeling. But it's not real laughter. I don't feel it. And I'm not really fooling anyone. They can see it from the dull look of my eyes and my avoidance of things most people enjoy. My voice when I do speak is automatic, almost as if I'm working from some pre-rehearsed script. I force myself from bed.
Time for breakfast. That should make me feel better. Didn't eating bring me pleasure at some point in my life? I'll eat something really tasty and totally bad for me. That'll make me feel better. I find something lacking in nutritional value and scarf it down. I enjoy the flavor as I eat so I prolong the experience by eating slower...or if I'm really bad I'll eat twice as much. Afterwards I do feel-but only guilt. I shouldn't have eaten that-it was bad for me. I'm smarter than that. Oh well...keep moving forward. Prepare breakfast for the others. Suggest something nutritional-at least someone will benefit from that wisdom. I see the family off to work and school and feel as if I've jumped one of the hurdles in my day. Afterwards I'm hit by sadness at seeing the work set before me. I look at it and wait for some revelation to hit me as to how I can get through it but nothing occurs to me. Once again-I'm blank. My life is a palette of black, white and all manner of grays. Bleak at best.
Suddenly I feel tired. I'll lay down and just take a short nap. Maybe that will help me power back up. Two or three hours later I'm woken by the telephone ringing. I'm miffed-why can't they leave me alone? All I want is to sleep. I'm so tired. Duty calls. I force myself from my nap and try to find something to eat that will jolt my system awake. Maybe if I can get going again I can get a few things done but as I look around I'm totally overwhelmed by everything I have to do. I leave. I'm sure there are a few things we need from the store.
At the store I fill the buggy with all manner of things. Things to make my job easier. Things to clean with, things to organize with, things to decorate our home. My mood is elevated slightly. I'm experiencing a shoppers high. At least I can feel something. I load my purchases in the car but by the time I reach home I am overwhelmed with guilt and then once again, I'm blank. The feelings I had were short-lived. I hate this "non-feeling". I avoid friends. I cut myself off from the world. Television? It doesn't matter. My scope has been narrowed to such a small point that I can only see just in front of me. The rest of the world is not my responsibility.
My family returns and I make an effort to smile. To laugh. To interact-but I really just want to be left alone. They love me. I know they do. I should try harder. But love won't make the Dementors leave. They are there-hovering-shifting silently and invisibly around me. Sucking out my soul, slowly absorbing my life force and pulling me away from the world. I need to find some way to hang on. Some way to shield myself from the depression they wield. I'm not a wizard and I don't possess magic, but I do know there is help. I've been told I don't have to live like this. I decide to try and fight off the Dementors but I know I can't do it alone. Thank God I live in a day and age when something can be done to fight back. I start visiting a therapist. A diagnosis is made-medicine is prescribed and slowly the dullness fades. The blankness is slowly being replaced by moments that are...what? I've not felt this way in so long that I'd forgotten. Is this what it feels like to be normal? To feel? I find myself laughing at things, I find myself wanting to be with people and wanting to help others. I see that the answer to fighting the Dementors isn't easy...it's a battle-daily, sometimes hourly-but I keep fighting. I enjoy the victory. I see those around me happier. I want to do things now. It's almost as if I can see the full spectrum of color in life.
I hope I always feel this way. To feel-sometimes an impossible thing for someone with depression. To be filled-to be filled with emotions and to revel in pursuing happiness.
I hope Rowling doesn't have a fit that I'm using one of her creations to demonstrate a point but that's what it feels like to be depressed. It's a daily battle-one that many people don't understand. But I guess I've been one of those people that the Dementors see as an easy target. Or maybe I just have such a remarkable life force that they want me specifically? I'll try thinking of it that way...I'm not marred by depression. I merely possess something they want. They'll continue to follow me-but I'll continue to fight.