[Spectrum: Band of colours formed from a beam of light (1670s); from Latin, literally ‘image, apparition’ (1610s); word origin, spec(ere) ‘to look at, see’ (1605)]
I imagine what my life would be like without depression. Without ‘interpersonal difficulties’, ‘mood dysregulation’, and ‘suicidal thoughts’. Without therapy once a week and family sessions irregularly, art therapists who come and go by the month, and a crazy doctor bent on asking about my latest GPA.
I don’t dare to talk about these things for fear of misrepresenting the mental health community, because I know others do have mental illness(es) that are actually simultaneously chronic and acute, unlike mine. Or who don’t find therapy helpful and have altogether gotten weary of the entire parade of un-empathetic psychologists. Or for whom medications just don’t work as well, or whom are absolutely terrified of ECT/R-TMS etc. because it’s unpredictable, enforced, or exhausting.
I don’t want to exaggerate my tiredness when the frustration is split second and my grievances are superficial, with my ‘wishes’ and ‘if I had’s and ‘help me’s. I don’t want anyone to feel left behind when I’m hopeful, nor pulled down when I’ve given up. So basically, I don’t want to talk about my experiences, even though it hurts so much to keep it all inside.
I’m scared, not just of my ‘normal life’ – friends and family and future employers and past supervisors – but even of being judged by others ‘like me’. The categories are so blurred and I don’t know where I belong (and it’s not exactly a good home anyways – inhabiting either labels). That makes it hard, though, to feel real, valid, and accepted for both who I am and what I may (or may not) have.
I don’t know who’s shoes to place myself in. There is such a spectrum – always someone with a unique mental health diagnosis combination, or a differently wired interpersonal struggle, or past series of traumas. There is no quick fix, empathy is powerful but can drain, and apathy is just not the way to go. So I’m just not sure what to say about myself and for myself to you anymore. That I’m happy or that I’m not, feeling lucky or just alone, hopeful for the future or terrified of the past.
I remember sometimes that my thoughts and feelings are not always who I am. Neither is Depression. Nor Borderline Personality Disorder (the symptoms). But then I realise later that they are all also twined up with/in me. And I don’t know which to be – that won’t hurt anybody – and in turn, myself. I feel perpetually empty, detached, non-existent, unreal, and/or unimportant. Even though I know and believe deep inside that I’m not.
I just want to say that I do not take for granted what I have, what I am, and what I hope to be. But it’s not as easy as I make it out to seem, either. I’m struggling, but I don’t want your sorrow or your sympathy because I know that there are others who have it harder than me. I just want you to understand. To see.