Depression is a strange illness. It’s not serious in the sense that it’s not directly fatal, such as a collapsed lung, or a hole in the heart. It doesn’t have as severe external symptoms as other mental or physical ailments. Yet it is more common than we think, with an estimated 1 in 20 Singaporeans suffering from depression at any time, according to Health Promotion Board statistics.
Medical language aside, there is little that expresses how a depressive person actually feels, and how difficult it is to throw off depression. I have seen a video that shows depression to be a big, heavy dog that refuses to let go, and someone I know has likened it to a dark cloud that sometimes goes away, but usually hangs over everything.
Personally, I liken it to this:
The earlier chapter describes how I felt. Despite the medication, I was not doing well. I was on leave from work, thankfully, and I went through all that I needed in order to ensure that I didn’t fall into the rabbit hole.
But nothing seemed to work.
When I awoke on Thursday of my final week of crisis, I was in pain, and the veil was thicker than ever. I remember my wife speaking to me, but I don’t remember reacting much. I couldn’t. I couldn’t take in what she said, and I was speaking in monosyllables as far as possible. But my plan was ready to be put into action.
I sat outside the doctor’s office, waiting for the nurses to process my admission. My friends arrived at this time. I’d had no dinner, though I’d had a pack of crisps and a cup of warm malt chocolate (Milo) while waiting for the doctor. I couldn’t imagine eating anything else. One of my friends had providentially brought an extra chocolate. I smiled for the only time that night, through my tears.
I didn’t have any hope by this time. I think that given time, I would have realised that I was going to be better, but at that point, I was numb. I couldn’t think past the numbness and shock of what I was going through. I was still in pain, but I couldn’t feel anything other than resigned despair. I knew I had no hope left, even though that wasn’t true. The admitting doctor who had threatened to use the Mental Health Act against me did tell me that my fear and reaction could be due to my depression, but I was past caring at this point. I felt nothing, and I felt myself floating in some kind of disbelief. People drifted in and out around me, and I took my medication as I was told. Otherwise, I wanted to just sit in my bed and stare at the ceiling, and keep out of the way of the noisy people.
My pastor and his wife were around when I got transferred. It was cathartic talking to them as well, and my pastor prayed for me as they both prayed with me. Their care meant a lot at that time, as I know my pastor is really busy. They were full of concern, and listened to me. They were with me as I got transferred, and saw me settled in before they took their leave.
As I write, it has been only a week and a half since I have been discharged. I still struggle to operate normally at times. My appetite is terrible and I am eating variable amounts every day. On some days, I eat about half what I normally eat, or less. On other days, I binge eat during one meal, and then eat very little for the rest of the day. My wife tries to help me to regulate my diet, but it’s difficult for us both as I sometimes just don’t have the appetite. A lot of food that I used to like to eat holds no appeal, and even makes me feel nauseous.
This is the most pleasurable chapter to write – I have so many thanks to give, just to be able to live, and to be able to write my story for others to read.
Thank you, God, for saving me from my sins through Jesus Christ, and for saving me from myself. I am sure the Holy Spirit was the one who guided my steps into the hospital, and kept me safe these few weeks.
If you recognise yourself in my story, I would like to speak to you here, personally. Perhaps you only see a certain portion of yourself, or perhaps you have had similar experiences and disillusionments. Or perhaps you feel the same sadness and lack of joy or constant pain. Perhaps you don’t understand happiness, or you find yourself struggling to be happy in the midst of a world that seems obsessed with being happy.