It is only when watching Andrew Solomon’s TEDTalk 2014, « How the worst moments of our lives makes us who we are », then another one, « Depression, the secret we all share » that I heard testimonies from people who had had depression, telling about similar things than those I experienced when I was younger.
One of them, said M.Solomon, told him she was hearing a voice in her head, while trying to cover it by singing to herself the same song over and over. A voice that was telling her : « You are nothing. You are nobody. You don’t even deserve to live ». And she said that was when she really started thinking about killing herself.
It struck a chord. I kept watching. Listening to all theses testimonies, among them Solomon’s own, no less impressive than the others.
And something struck even deeper, when, once the talk ended, I revved back to precise moments, precise sentences, and watched them over again.
These were adults that had been through the worst moments of their lives, and they had to cling to life with all their might to get over it. They had to find support among their families, their friends, their spouses. They even went on medication for years. They needed, in short, all their strength, all the help they could get to survive.
It happened to them when they were adults, with relationships, support, means to fight.
And the full blow hit me head-on.
It started to eat away at me when I was eleven.
I hadn’t any close friends.
I hadn’t any support from my family.
(Let’s not talk about relationships)
I never went on medication.
I didn’t go on therapy until I was fourteen.
I wasn’t diagnosed as depressed until I was twenty-four, when it was nearly over.
(The first diagnosis was « anger management problem ». Don’t even start me.)
And the therapist who diagnosed it went white as a sheet when hearing me out.
(The fact he was father to a deaf girl helped a bit)
The only person who felt something was wrong during these times was my speech therapist who, for years, gave me as much help she could, by listening to me, by trying to cheer me up, by giving me books. Who tried her best, but couldn’t do anything more to improve my situation.
I went through depression from eleven to twenty-four, with improvements and huge relapses.
Twelve years harrowing through it, on my own, until meeting my second therapist.
Then four more years before fully taking in what I’d been through.
I’m twenty-eight now.
And it’s only now that I realize it was truly a disease, and how close I came to die from it.
It’s only now that I realize the full amount of the strength I’ve exerted to fight it.
It’s only now that I said « Only four suicidal attempts ? How is that even possible ? »
It’s only today that I said to myself : Kid, getting there alive was a fucking awesome job.
You barely got out of it alive because it was so incredibly hard, not because you were weak.
You weren’t lazy ; you weren’t a pussy ; you weren’t wicked nor spiteful.
You were the toughest warrior I’ve ever seen.
And you still are.
And that realization will be your greatest asset ever from now on.
If you could get through that, you can get through anything.
You can achieve absolutely anything.
From this deepest, darkest part of me at last redeemed, I fully subscribe to Solomon’s final words :
« Depression can allow to feel positive emotion in a more intense and a more focused way. (…) In a way, I love my depression, because it has forced me to find and cling to joy. I love it because each day I decide to cleave to the reason for living. »
Getting through depression has made me proactive, fully open to any positive thing, always searching and finding joy and fuel in the smallest of things.
I deeply love the person I’ve become because of these hellish times, and, weirdly enough, I dare think I wouldn’t have it any other way, today.
(Hats off to Andrew Solomon for speaking up so magnificently about it, and standing up for all those who didn't dare to talk about it)