The Depression Train.
There are many people speaking out about what having a mental illness feels like for them.
Here is what it feels like for me, I live with major depression.
Living with depression feels like riding inside a locked train car, where the windows are large and darkly tinted. While riding on the depression train, you pass through a world that looks like your everyday life, except because you’re inside the train car- you cannot experience it the same way as you would if you weren’t inside the train car.
When you are depressed everything inside the train car looks bleak, the seats are high backed, they are not comfortable but you don’t want to get up from them, and the safety seat belts have locks that you don’t control. While seated, you can see your reflection on the large windows near you, but because the windows are darkly tinted- grey, and your seatbelt is on; you cannot grasp your true image. You can see what looks like a side profile of yourself, the reflection is inconspicuous, sometimes you aren’t sure that you are the person riding in the train car. You feel numb, you can see the weather changing outside, but you are unable to feel any elements – the wind, rain, sun, nor can you decipher (at times) if it is morning or night.
The depression train, announces the next stops in advance, but your hearing is muffled, it is unclear if the next stop is yours, you also do not know where along the tracks your current train car exists. When the depression train stops, often it is not your stop, you may want to get off the depression train, but the uncomfortable chairs conspire to hold on to you, the seat belts remain locked, and you cannot move.
When you are on the depression train, you realize you have been given a free ticket to ride, an unwanted vacation with horrible in-laws (your low mood), you don’t have any vacation time, and your absence from work may cost you your job. You aren’t sure if this ride on the depression train is a round trip or a one-way ride. The depression train takes the path along a familiar track, but the scenes you see while glancing out of the large grey windows look different every time you board the train.
The depression train, has food available in the food car, which is 3 cars over. If you only had to contend with the locked seat belt, the relentless uncomfortable chairs, and the large dark grey tinted windows offering you a skewed perception of yourself; that would perhaps be fine. When you are on the depression train, to get to the food car, you will break past those multiple previously reported barriers as well as have to walk through a moving train- trying the entire time not to fall. When you arrive at one of the connecting train doors on the depression train, you are most often crying, alone, tired, and weak- you will still have to pry open the door, holding it wide enough to get your depressed head through. Getting your head to pass through the connecting train car is the hardest of all feats, then you must have the energy to do this, 3 more times- remember the food car is 3 cars over. When you arrive at the food car, you are exhausted, and your head weighs as heavy as 5 pieces of the restricted oversize, carry-on luggage- your head inconsiderately weighs on your neck, compresses your soul, but yet you will still have to speak to the train attendant – to ask for food, sustenance. After you arrive to the food car, the energy that has been spent to get you to this point is drained- that 1. You have lost the desire to eat 2. Even if you had the desire to eat you spent the full span of your available currency, energy 3. You cannot even begin to have any idea about what it is you even wanted to eat in the first place, upset with yourself for wasting your own time 4. You worry- Why? You wonder how you will get back to the uncomfortable chair 3 cars over, if your stop is coming up soon, and/or if you will ever be able to get off of this depression train.
On the depression train, when your worry has lapped up any remaining fragments of your joy – somber things appear more real– you are finally able to take a better look around, understand what you see. You see people looking at you from both inside and outside the depression train. Some of those inside the depression train are hanging onto your ankles, they are wondering how you will get off, this so that they can follow you – it isn’t their first ride on the train either, and they too are tired of being there. Others on the train are fast asleep- even though they aren’t awake, you can feel the weight of their depression, as heavy as a coat made from an old trains carpet. Many on the train are awake, you haven’t seen these awake people on the depression train for a long time, some of them are awake, present and well – they know their stop is coming, others are awake and staring blankly out of the large dark train car windows, some are awake and dead- suicide- they killed themselves, your eyes tear, sad that more souls lay victim to the depression train. There are many people watching you from outside of the train, there is always at least one triggering figure watching you- your ex-husband if you are me. Some of these people watching you from outside of the train- I call “The Perfects”, sometimes the way these people look at you, makes you think that things are better off from their view, outside of the depression train. “The Perfects” wait till you are on the train, then they laugh at you, steal from you, or abuse you. Others watching you from outside the train look at you like you are a raw cracked egg, afraid that the train will fry you, crack you further, and they often try to fix you- they tell you to get off the train, now. Your children are there outside the train too, they are your cheerleaders –seeing you alive, feeds them, they smile, and hold up “Go This Way” signs, they are waiting for you at your stop. Others outside the train- are watching too, yet they aren’t watching you, they don’t care about you- the fact that you are on the depression train is your choice, your problem, you are an adult after all.
After a few trips on the depression train, you consider taking anti-depressants to help you get off the train. Thankful at this point in your life you understand the depression train, death, Suicide, is no longer an option. You take the medication as prescribed yet find that you are still on the depression train, the windows may be smaller on the medicated depression train, the seat belts not as tight, the food car maybe only one car over, your head weighs the same as only one oversized carryon bag, you have a faint idea when your stop is coming, “The Perfects” still watch you – because you’ve ridden on the depression train once, you’re never the same. Now you will be discriminated against, stigmatized, and judged for being on the train, and for taking psychotropic medication, for stop taking psychotropic medication, and also for getting off of the train.
When you have passed through all unforeseen obstacles and removed the two-edged sword from the stone, haven’t ridden on the depression train in some time, decide it is time to stop taking antidepressants; it is then every night on the hour, the depression train will ride the invisible train tracks around your bed at night. It is then the depression train will invite you to come along on another ride, you curse the depression train, vowing to derail it for good, refusing to embark, standing up on behalf of all that was lost while aboard the train. Some things help keep you off the train, you make nutritional changes while in the outside world, add supplements and other non-pharmacological treatment options to your life. “The Perfects” still mock you – this makes you stronger, those on the train still look at you – they even will share how much they miss you- you want to help them- yet realize the only way to help them is by staying off of the depression train. Your children and their cheerleader signs have gotten larger, with these signs they have blocked off the train door for you, and the depression train conductor is a psychotherapist, she says “Tell me about your last depression train wreck.”
Living with depression feels like riding a train.
Xoxo Nurse Rose
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