When I finally understood Depression

5 months ago, I lost my job of 6 years.

It was inevitable and I understood the circumstances of the loss. That didn’t change the fact that it was painful, though. Even though I knew it was time for another chapter of my career, that job allowed me to do what I wanted to do and, for what it’s worth, it made me a better person. I loved that job.

The loss was no reason to wallow in sadness. I knew this, and I knew it was time.

But I did not prepare for a ’bout’ of depression.

Before I continue my story, I would like to give you a background. This is my journey to understanding what depression means, and it is important for me to go back to what I thought about it at first, embarrassing as it was.

When I was younger, I thought depression involved a lot of crying and heartaches and eating ice cream right from the bucket. I thought that depression was the heartbreak after the first kiss, and I wallowed in self-pity and binge-ate, talked to a friend over bubble gum-flavoured rice wine and tried to feel happy again. How uneducated I was.

There was more to depression, I thought. Depression was a lot more serious than the my heart breaking, more painful than the loss of something I wanted. But it was always centered at the heart. I feel the pain in my chest, so real that it becomes physical and with a life of its own, clawing at my chest that I had to remind myself to breathe in order to ease the pain and calm the clawing. It was always the heart, and so I listened to mine. I read a hundred books and felt a thousand more heartaches, but I kept waiting to hear what my heart had to say. And I did it. I learned what my heart wanted, and I learned why it was so easy to break it. I learned how much time it needs to recover, and I learned the importance of just leaving it be. Most of all, I learned that it can recover. Depression can pass. I was proud of that.

Being able to understand my heart made me too proud, that I forgot that learning is only halfway to understanding.

When I learned that I’m about to lose my job, I was sad but not breaking. Not anymore, I have gone past the weakness of breaking right away. I  knew why it had to be so, and I knew my next four steps. There are things I’ve been wanting to do and I finally had the time to do them. In fact, there were many things I wanted to do that I didn’t know where to start.

Then it hit me. It doesn’t matter that I wanted to do a lot of things, I just…couldn’t. I knew how to do them, but I could not start. I knew that I still have the skills I have developed through the years and that nothing about how I can do things changed, but I could not move. I wanted to do a lot of things, but I literally didn’t know where to start, and that’s not because I was excited. The truth is, I was scared shit. I was scared at the empty calendar I was facing, and the loss of a comforting routine consumed me that I was debilitated.

If I think about it now, I wouldn’t know if I went through the five stages of grief. But I was aware of a fight inside of me. I struggled, and I felt every moment of it. I knew I had to win, but every time I remind myself that I have won many battles before, I just become more and more weary. I realized I was fighting the same war for a very long time now, and I didn’t even realize I was in a war. The thought of it pained me, even though I was aware of the other side of the coin: that I had been able to win battles before.

The two sides were vivid, and all there for me to see. I can see how much I have grown and I am aware of what I can do—heck, I am confident at what I can do. I have a clear set of action plans in my head, and a code by which I have decided to live. At the same time, it became very obvious to me that I wake up with a conscious and painful effort to remember all these things that will hopefully, hopefully, make me win today’s battle.

I consider myself lucky, because I have developed a love for communication and therefore able to express myself better. I have a pretty solid support group, albeit all unaware of my battles. I have been listening to my heart long enough for me to understand what I can do to channel the sadness. Considering there are many people out there with nobody listening to them, or with people listening to them but not understanding, people who are too paralyzed to even express what is inside of them—I am considerably lucky. But I also understood that the battles just keep coming, for the war never stops.

This is for those who have listened, and took the time to understand. Those whom I have misunderstood before. The soldiers who have fought more battles, in a longer war.

I am aware.

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