Battling against the monster inside me

Dealing with mental health is collaborative effort; starting the conversation is first step



“For some, depression might be a short-term occurrence like a bad cough. For others, it’s a chronic battle.”

JUSTIN WASHINGTON, Evergreen research editor

It’s not as bad as you think. Things will get better if you keep waiting. Maybe things aren’t better because you’re not doing enough. Perhaps nothing can be done to change your situation and you just need to live with it.

The above statements are a handful of responses I get whenever I bring up the monster that lives inside me. It’s not so much of a monster that makes me violent, or otherwise a danger to anyone. No, it doesn’t exist to be hostile toward others. Instead, its interests lie in slowly tearing me apart from the inside.

It comes with the name “depression” and entered my life about a decade ago — or precisely, when I was in the fourth grade. It was around that time when my thinking transitioned from “I’m an awesome person” to “Everyone thinks of me as a piece of crap” and from “I can do anything I set my mind to” to “Maybe I can’t do much at all.”

Don’t get me wrong — I’m not completely hopeless. I have aspirations and goals along with dreams and fantasies. After all, I want to work in a profession where I’ll be interacting with people similar to myself every day of the week. 

But sometimes I can’t always focus on those because the monster inside me likes to distract me with an array of intrusive thoughts. 

I feel like nobody likes me. Those who talk to me only do it out of pity. I’m never going to live a decent life. Maybe the only way I would improve the world is if I didn’t exist at all.

They’re irrational thoughts, and I know this. I’m aware that I’m buying into lies. Yet, I can’t help but replay them over and over like a favorite song. I’m addicted. Dosing myself with the darkness is something I crave. Even though I feel worse and nothing improves, I’m drawn to it and can’t seem to escape.

Now here comes the whys. Why? Why am I talking about this? Why does this matter? Just about everyone knows what depression is, given that this generation is facing the largest mental health crisis. So why is it necessary that I bring this up.

Well, my answer to that is simple. Many of us know what depression is, but some of us don’t always understand the specifics of it. I can recall a few people who believe that just because I smile and laugh that my depression is gone. That isn’t the case. I tend to look at it as the monster is just taking a sick day.

That’s just one misconception I’ve encountered. Some seem to think that validating me once is going to make my hopelessness disappear forever without realizing that my need for belonging is more frequent than that. Some seem to think that telling me to go to therapy or get prescriptions is the end-all solution without realizing that their support matters just as much as those alternatives.

To answer the question of “why,” telling my story might help open some eyes. For some, depression might be a short-term occurrence like a bad cough. For others, it’s a chronic battle. The scariest part is, I have no idea when — if ever — my battle will end.

I know I’m not alone. Millions of people deal with the monster and its insufferable wrath, many of whom are probably lost, scared and confused. That’s why I always say dealing with mental health is a collaborative effort.

For those who may not be dwelling in the darkness, it’s important to reach out to friends and let them know you’re there. Even if you’ve said it before, I can’t think of anyone who would hate being reminded of that.

And for those who are stuck in the perilous maze of despair, it’s OK to feel lost and lonely as much as it is OK to let others know you’re in need of help. The battle doesn’t always have to end by your own efforts. Things most certainly have the opportunity to get better. But until then, making it to the next day might be the closest thing to winning the battle.