This story was written sometime around my original diagnosis for depression. It was an attempt to explain what depression for the person suffering from it.
There’s a monster shadowing me. I can’t always see it, but I always know it’s there. I can usually catch a glimpse of it in the corner of my eye. The beast there smiling, smirking, knowing it’s just biding its time. It usually hides in the shadows, just out of sight, watching and waiting, until it decides to strike. When it does strike, its attacks are relentless and destructive. It goes after everything I am, everything I have, and everyone I hold dear.
Nothing I do is ever good enough to defeat the monster and the monster makes sure I know this. It focuses on and highlights my failures. Even my successes are reframed as failures by the monster. If I succeed at something, the monster repurposes the success as though I merely got lucky that time, and then the monster reminds me that failure is always an option and failure will follow as soon as possible.
Relationships are a particularly preferred target for the monster. It uses my friends and family as targets and allies. Its attacks on me, at times, are so relentless that they cause me to project my own failures and insecurities on others and make them additional targets for the monster. No matter what they do, no matter how good, it’s never good enough, never free of ulterior motives. If I try to get too close or someone else tries to get close to me, the monster pokes and prods at me until I lash out. It focuses on the times when loved ones left in the past, and screams how this one will too. Small grievances escalate into major offenses. Petty things become a source of rage. I don’t want to attack them, but I am powerless to stop it. It’s the monster, not me, that takes over and causes pain to those I love to cause even more pain to me.
The monster creates allies of friends and family through deception and trickery. They don’t see the monster for what it really is. Instead, they see the fight as something temporary, a dark period to overcome in time. I know they mean well when they say it’s just a phase, or all things will pass, or to just think happy thoughts, or just pray about it, or everyone goes through these fights against the monster. I’ve tried all these things. The monster will seem to retreat for a time, but it always returns. And, when it does return, it attacks with a vengeance as if it’s making up for the periods of peace I briefly enjoyed.
Everyday becomes a battle and a struggle against the monster. It begins its attacks in the morning making the simple task of getting out of bed a struggle. It attacks throughout the day. Simple things become a chore. Things I once enjoyed become tedious, or a source of boredom. At night, it attacks as well with a twofold purpose: to make sleep difficult and, through the lack of sleep, weaken my defenses for the day ahead. With the monster looming over me, sleep is not true sleep, but the act of passing out from exhaustion. Insomnia is quite frequent from the fights against the monster. Sometimes sleep is a relief from the attacks of the monster, other times the monster attacks my dreams.
The monster hates me. I can feel its hate when it gets close. It wants to destroy me. I can sense its desire. The only consolation of its desire to destroy me is that the monster can’t physically touch me or destroy me itself. The attacks on my sleep can trigger headaches and exhaustion, but the monster is incapable of causing direct physical harm to me. Instead, the monster seeks to push just enough that I might do the job for it. So far, it’s been unsuccessful at this. I do sometimes find myself wishing to just not wake up and be done with the fight against the monster once and for all. However, so far, I’ve been fortunate to avoid any thoughts of doing anything to help the monster achieve this goal.
The monster knows its greatest advantage is to try to convince me that I’m on my own, all alone, in this fight. The fight against the monster is a lonely one. It knows that I’m at my weakest when it isolates me from those who could help with the fight and that is the point where it thrives. This same monster has taken down so many others I’ve known and respected through this same tactic. Better men and women, stronger men and women, men and women greater than I could ever hope to be. Yet, they still fell to this monster that pursues me. And, isolation is the goal of the monster when it uses those closest to me as targets.
I know that the wedges it’s driven between myself and others in the past can’t be undone. Some of those wedges are unforgivable; some of those others, who were pushed away, have long since moved beyond reach or the chasms created by the monster are too great to ever be crossed again. I can’t change the past, or even return there, but I can only hope that forgiveness might cross their minds and be possible somewhere along the way.
However, now that I ‘ve positively identified just what the monster is and what its tactics will be, I’ve got hope that I can at least combat the monster head on.
While the monster that is depression can never be fully beaten or defeated, it can be fought head on once it’s been identified and exposed for what it is.