Depression: The Addiction

Depression is about anger, it is about anxiety, it is about character and heredity. But it is also about something that is in its way quite unique. It is the illness of identity, it is the illness of those who do not know where they fit, who lose faith in the myths they have so painstakingly created for themselves. [...] It is a plague - especially if you add in its various forms of expression, like alcoholism, anorexia, bulimia, drug addiction, compulsive behavior of one kind or another. They’re all the same things: attempts to avoid disappearance, or nothingness, or chaos.
— Tim Lott, Scent Of Dried Roses

I’m not talking about depression leading to an addiction to a substance. I don’t have a lot of experience in that so I don’t feel comfortable talking about it right now. I’m sorry if that’s what you were coming here looking for.

Instead, I want to talk about depression itself being an addiction. I touched on this a little bit in another blog post. How the feeling can in a way become comforting because we are looking to feel anything at all.

It almost seems like the depression understands us. It knows us, what makes us comfortable and it just whispers that in your mind. It tells us we are most comfortable in bed, wrapped up in comforting blankets until this pain ends. It convinces us that we aren’t good enough and don’t belong.

Once it becomes an addiction we allow it to make all of our decisions for us. What we are going to do, where we are going to go, who we see, what we wear. It tells us “don’t worry, you will never be good enough anyway”. Just like with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, we allow it to take control of our life.

We give it this power over us that we never should, the power that it doesn’t deserve. It takes control of that power and never wants to give it back. You have to fight, and it just fights back. It’s forever learning and evolving, no matter what you try it always feels like a struggle. It will feel like you just can’t take that power away from it.

Most days you want to give up and just let it take control. You don’t want to fight with it anymore because it just doesn’t feel worth it anymore.

This is only part of my story. How I let the depression and anxiety consume me and whisper things in my mind that just weren’t true. How I became addicted to those feelings because without them I was afraid that I wouldn’t feel anything at all, and it scared me. The thought of complete emptiness terrified me.

It’s so easy with social media to see the happiness in everyone around me and it’s so frustrating that I couldn’t feel it. No matter how hard I tried all I could feel was the sadness from the depression and anxious from the anxiety. I thought without it I wouldn’t feel anything at all, just this constant emptiness that felt heavy in my chest.

I gave the depression and anxiety control of me for many years and suddenly when I went to take that control back it felt as though it was no longer mine. The depression and anxiety had transformed themselves into these raging monsters in my mind. They made me believe that they were the only ones I could trust, they were there for my own good.

I reached the bottom and giving up, ending it all felt like it was my only way to take that control back. It was my only way to end the pain and suffering that I allowed myself to endure for so many years. It was my way to end the addiction to depression and anxiety.

It took me a long time to learn that the control was always mine and I didn’t have to end everything to take that control back. I may slip back into that negative spiral, but it’s not permanent. I may need some help climbing back up that mountain from time to time but it’s a mountain I will conquer someday. With the help of my therapist, my medication, and my friends by my side, I know I can climb this mountain. There are times when reaching the top seems impossible, but we need to remind ourselves that we don’t have to reach the top tomorrow, just the next resting spot will do for now before we begin our climb again.

Today I challenge you to start that journey. Keep climbing that mountain and when you need help when you feel stuck and you can’t go any further, reach out for help. Take back control of your mental well-being. It may look difficult when you’re standing at the bottom, but the more you climb the easier it becomes.