Depression: Coming to terms with an Unwelcome Guest

Couldn't sleep. So I thought I'd write.

The topic that's on my mind right now is one that I have struggled with. Immensely, at times. My mind mocks it, ridicules, shoves it around, faces it head-on and then forgets it.

But it always comes back.

So no more running away. It's head-on this time and come what may.

It's one thing to accept things as they are, privately and another to make it public. So I gave some thought about making my experience with depression public.

Yeap. That's right. The big D.

I still term it that way, see. Because it's difficult to say it out loud sometimes. But practice makes perfect.


In all honesty, I have to say this one sneaked up on me some time ago. I just didn't see it. I didn't know what depression was, I didn't know the symptoms, the warning signs if you may.

I didn't know that there was such a thing as high functioning depression.

I was a straight-A student up to the time I was fifteen. And then I struggled a little bit but was always above average in school. I excelled in extra-curricular activities; choir was life. Singing was life.

See, singing kept me afloat. I didn't have an amazing voice or anything like that. It was the feeling of belonging. Think Glee. Place where all rejects come to unite. Lol.

But no, I didn't think of myself as a reject. I was a lone-wolf. Always was and probably always will be. I didn't put much thought into it back then. I liked doing things alone, musing in class. I yearned to belong which led to many uncomfortable conversations. I never felt patient enough to relate to someone or a group of people. But in all ignorance, it was pure bliss. I just didn't know I was quite happy...

Compared to what followed in the years to come.

If I were to backtrack the best I could, I'd say depression began rearing it's sneaky head when my nanny left us. It was a downward spiral from there. I daresay she was the one constant element in my life that kept me afloat above everything else. You know when someone is able to just get you without a word being said? They just react ...push and pull like a magnet do. (Shape of You reference, whaddupp).

So yeah, my nanny was perfect. I was the closest to her of all the Andiappan children. I played house as she cooked in the kitchen, ran to her for anything and everything. I used to be scared of spiders and even ants when I was a little girl. I ran to her for silly things like that. I took my evening naps in her room, played with my dolls until I slept. Dolls that she would buy and never ask a penny for. As a child, I never understood that things like that cost money. She never told mum and dad. She'd just buy me whatever I asked for or promised me that we'd come back for it. Like the play phone she got me when I was 7. It was my most precious belonging back then.

She left us when I was fifteen. Little did I know that I lost my closest friend that day. Little did I know that she was the one who understood me effortlessly. I remember watching silently and following her around when she came back to pack her things before saying goodbye. It was quick. She seemed happy that she was leaving us. I understood why but was quite helpless. She thought I didn't need her anymore. I was a big girl now...


Teenage years was painful growth like it must have been for most. Curiosity was the beautiful thing throughout those formative years. It kept all of us company and ensured the world was continually explored. It was ours for the taking.

Only, I was continually struggling. I never identified with being a boisterous teenager. I never felt the lust for amazing things, the rebellion, the need to express myself. It all happened on paper. I wrote myself into blissful exhaustion. Frustration, sometimes. I wrote though Math, Add Math. My mind aligned with reality during History and English. History was boring for so many but it was never the case for me. No matter how boring the textbooks were. I was happy to see the words. They were calming. They were things that already took place. Nostalgia. Predictable. A healthy balance between melancholy and objectivity.

I was managing it.

Then I went to England.

Those years, were and still are the best years of my twenty-seven years of existence. But they are also littered with moments of devastation and utter hopelessness. I hid very well.

I say hid and not hid 'it' because I hid from the depression.

What did I do? I latched onto anyone who dared come close. And the only person who dared was a boy. We were in love. Or so he thought. Or so I thought, come to think of it...

Calling the relationship stormy was an understatement. I was hiding a truth from him and from myself. It manifested itself in senseless arguments and horrible tantrums. Ugly, ugly shouting. Mostly on my part. I was frustrated that he couldn't help me. That he was trying and I just wouldn't let him in. There were no words for me describe what was bothering me. Because hey.

I had this insurmountable urge for perfection. I wanted not only to please myself by having the perfect man by my side. I wanted to please my dad too by choosing the perfect man. The slightest discord in my dad's tone would set off panic and then utter worthlessness and shame. I had to have perfect grades. A first class degree was all I could think of. Dad didn't think I could hold a relationship and maintain the grades. He didn't think I could do it. So I didn't think I could do it. Insecurity. Spiraling confidence.

Who did I project all that onto? The boy. Very unfairly so. He paid no heed to my pleading of inexperience in relationships when he left. The love and care I had for him was real. But the fights and constant disregard for his feelings overwhelmed the former.


I liked to be alone. 

My roommate back in college would attest to that. I slept a tonne of the time.

I come back from class and slept. Until the wee hours of dawn. No, dawn was scary. It meant day was coming. Midnight was more like it. The sleep was usually dreamless. If I did, they were vivid.

I could sleep with the fluorescent lights piercing through. It didn't matter. I was going into oblivion and that was more tempting. I was escaping. It was numb excitement.

I snapped at my roommate who, bless her heart only had the best intentions. She'd ask me to remove my contact lenses and I'd ignore her and then make sure to snap at her in the morning. Or right then and there.

I kept everyone at a distance. Including her. My mind was only mine. I turn every conversation into being about the person I was talking to. I was terrified of talking about myself. If I did, it was only a ploy. I'd create something about myself, usually something dramatic. All the focus was usually on whom I was dating at the time or who I had a crush on. The drama created a false sort of euphoria that allowed me to keep reality at bay.

My need for control was already carefully being groomed at the time. Still, only growing pains. Nothing serious. I was still waking up in the morning, going to classes on time. Grades were fine. I was going to England. I was going to the United Kingdom. I was getting that overseas education. The depression took a backseat. Where it rightfully belonged. I was managing it.


The oversleeping worsened at university. 

I didn't have a roommate this time. Housemates, yes but no one knew what went on behind the closed door of my room. I made sure it was always locked. I used to feign sleep when someone knocked. I turned away one of them when she really needed to vent. She was breathing hard and was clearly in duress. I turned her away. Because I needed that energy for the fights that would ensue later that night with the boy. It was either open the door or no dinner.

Ah yes, I needed to cook. I needed that energy and awareness to stand there, take apart the ingredients in my mind, and peel them, cut them, whatever...

Countless evenings were spent with zero dinner. I stopped looking to myself to keep myself afloat. I rather fight and make no sense and shout at the top of my lungs than eat healthy and stick to being in England and experiencing what was right there in front of me.

Why. Because this boy was sticking through it all. It meant that he saw the monsters in my mind and was willing to deal with em. But no, he nor I were dealing with the ugly. We were just running around the ugly. Much like a mad dance around a fire. That kept raging and raging...until it almost burnt both of us. He left, thankfully before that could happen.


The ugly stayed hidden for some years to come after that. Until that one morning when I couldn't move. I literally could not move. Not one limb in my body wanted to co-operate to continue the physical charade. 

The mental charade diffused a while after that. It all came apart. To date, it was the scariest time of my life. There are some details that I can't mention here because honestly, they are a little too disarming. Suffice to say, I engaged in destructive behaviour. You might be tempted to brush it off by saying oh it's just a phase. That's what I told myself. That, nah, it's a just a phase. Or wow, Banu look at you...trying this or that...- that it was just some suppressed rebellion from the past.

Here's the thing about rebellion. You KNOW that it's rebellion. You KNOW that it is destructive. And yet you do it. The more people tell you NOT to do it, the more powerful the rush. The better the high-feeling gets. You get off on it.

With real destructive behaviour. You have NO actual awareness that what you are doing is dangerous. The high feeling gets to a point where it's so delirious that you want more and more not for anything but just because. Anything to feel alive. But there's no real reason for it. You just do it through all the numbness. It isn't to piss anyone off. It's just another lie to tell yourself in order to escape the hopelessness. Monkey just do. No questions. No fear. Only absolute, blissful numbness. Outside, you learn to create a story for yourself. So there won't be actual questions. You hide behind the rebellious facade. That's your act. Don't blow it, you tell yourself.

Until that paralysis. That was my body literally telling me, enough is enough. The big D was now openly rearing it's ugly head. The ugly was out. The fire finally touched me and was leaving actual burns.

I had two choices before me. Try my hardest to maintain that facade, that act of going to work as if nothing happened, post selfies of myself with perfect make up and captions, share happy posts on facebook, 'like' and 'love' everything and walk with that spring in your step...secretly sit at my desk and stare off into space for forty-five minutes of complete inactivity, frozen into place out of sheer baseless panic.

Or get help.

Stare depression right into its face since it's so intent on making its presence felt. And get REAL HELP. 

Acceptance was the first step. But it didn't come easy. What followed in the month to come was a nightmare. It took me and my parents a week (which felt like two weeks or a month, I don't know) to get the depression diagnosed. Agonizing waits at the local clinic. I was hyper-aware of everything. The dinging of the call-bells, the sound of slippers of people walking around, their movements set me off in this frenzy. Complete anxiety.

Deep inside me, I was in denial. I was sad that this was happening to me. At first I reacted with courage. I said, fine, if that's what it is, I'm going to kick it in its butt. I was mad at my folks, dad especially who thought that there was absolutely nothing wrong with me. Mum said "We're going to fix this. We are going to nip it in its bud before it gets out of hand." That gave me strength. That this was doable. Dad slowly got on-board and though he still hasn't resigned to the fact that there is something wrong, he is as supportive as ever.

I moved out of the current house I was staying at and folks were there with me throughout the shift. I needed a new environment, clean, uncluttered and a routine had to be set in place. The setting up of a new place got me going for a day. And trust me, I had every reason to rejoice. My mum was so happy and surprised that I was moving. That I was cleaning. That's right. That I was MOVING. I was usually catatonic. Frozen in one place, just staring of into space. What they didn't know what, in my mind, at that very moment, I was fighting off suicidal thoughts. I counted one time - seven times in a day. The thoughts disappear as fast as they come. That roller coaster was the worst of all. Still is, sometimes.

But you learn to manage it. Much as the same way you would treat an unwelcome guest. You can't tell 'em to get out, they usually respond like a stupid person would and make you feel all the more distressed and uncomfortable. So you make them feel as if they are welcome and allow them to stay their welcome and leave whenever they wish to.

The people who had the best interests at heart stayed and are still here. I didn't have to hide from them. I didn't have to hide the ugly from them. I don't really want to call it that now. Depression is a part of me now. I wouldn't say it's beautiful either. I just treat it as it is. With indifference. I see it coming and allow it to stay its welcome and leave whenever it wishes to. Baby steps.

I have the strategies set up in place and yes, there is medication involved. A dear friend once told me, "Help the medication help you. Don't depend on it as if it's magic".

I still struggle with the medication. And the next step is to come to terms with it. Right now, the goal is to wean the medication off in the next two to three months. Then the real trudge up the hill begins. The true test of mind over matter. That's what the yoga is all about. Lol. That and an awesome butt of course. Butt goals ftw yaw.

I end this post with a quote. The best thing I can tell anyone who wishes to be kind about things, not only to me but to anyone else who's going through the same predicament, if you care to know:

"If you know someone who's depressed, please resolve never to ask them why. Depression isn't a straightforward response to a bad situation; depression just is, like the weather.
Try to understand the blackness, lethargy, hopelessness, and loneliness they're going through. Be there for them when they come through the other side. It's hard to be a friend to someone who's depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest, and best things you will ever do."
-Stephen Fry

And to those beings who have been nothing but noble to me, I thank you from the deepest corners of my heart. You are angels in disguise, sent from above. Believe that. I have nothing but the deepest gratitude and love to all of you.

To Amma, Ayya, Alex, Abel, Sharan, Yuges, Iema, Ogy, Dena, Hans 💜


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