Monday, April 9, 2012

My name is Sahiba, and I suffer from depression

My name is Sahiba, and I suffer from severe suicidal depression and anxiety.

It’s taken me 15 years to say those words out loud, in front of everyone. 

I know that depression is an illness, no more my fault than if I have the flu. And yet, during an intense episode, the agonizing guilt and shame associated with the disease is crippling. 

Maybe it is this shame that makes it so difficult to reach out for help. Or accept help even when freely offered by those who love me. 

Now that I’ve finally started talking about it, I find that the floodgates are opening. I have so much to say about depression - how it played with my fibromyalgia & pain, how it eroded my confidence & self-esteem, and how it is finally leading to self-acceptance and self-discovery. I think I’m going to need a few posts to deal with it all.

The worst thing about depression is how it fools you into believing that you are the illness. It’s like someone has taken over your mind, your body, your very thoughts, and you have no control left over any of these. You are a prisoner within yourself.

Over the years, despite the CFS & fibromyalgia, I have prided myself on staying positive and fighting for the best possible life I could have. But when the depression attacks, it strikes at my very motivation for wanting to recover. “Why do I deserve to draw another breath?” How do you answer that question?

While I have had suicidal episodes over the years, the one that I’m now getting over was possibly one of the worst. Anyone who knows clinical depression will understand that it can take many forms. For me, it’s always been predominantly guilt. But for the first time in my life, anger took over. Suddenly all the internal self-blame became externalized and I couldn’t understand why I abruptly stopped connecting with people. 

I had always been such a patient, caring person. Hadn’t I? Or had I always been this selfish, anxious, bitter person I now felt like? Some days the anxiety was so much that I would spend hours lying trembling and crying on the floor with a knife in my hand, trying desperately to find a reason not to cut my wrist.

The only thing that got me through this time was my husband. In retrospect, this was not fair to him. If I had had the courage to share my illness with more people, the burden on him would have been reduced. I think we both hit rock bottom those days, but we made it through somehow...knock on wood :)

I also wanted to say that though my friends may not have been aware of what was happening with me, it soon became very clear to me who my real friends were. There were some who didn’t have any trouble forgetting about the years of interaction they had had with me. But there were others who may not have understood what was happening with me, but were willing to give me the benefit of the doubt and their support.  And that was all I really needed. Thank you.