Privilege Of Suffering

I was writing a letter to a dear friend when I tried to articulate what being depressed was like. I came across the analogy of being on a long death march. For you keep on slowly moving through the days, weeks, months, and years of your life doing everything you can manage just to keep moving, as movement equals life. Life means you work and eat and sleep and do the things necessary that will allow you the continued privilege of suffering upon the planet, yet one more day. Those who stop, soon collapse, and those who collapse become too weak to return to their feet. You can see the wreckage of those lives in hospitals and begging on street corners all around the world.

There seems to be a great force opposing my supposed free will. A force that channels me down the path depression sets out for me. Of course there are moments along the way that allow me to occasionally forget, as I pass a flower of friendship or enjoy the breeze of an others love upon my face, but mostly it is a monotonous trudging down the road of existence.

What those without depression or any other debilitating illness fail to realize, is that positive life altering activities takes great energy, and energy is something we have far less of than most. I often get the sense that living is what happens to other people around me, and what I am doing is just surviving. As I have been living paycheck to paycheck since I was 18 and lived below the poverty line most of my life. I have never had a job with insurance or a paid vacation. I have often struggled with alcohol and drugs (attempts at self-medicating). My credit is a train wreck. I was homeless for many years. I have been in a string of abusive relationships. I barely made it through high school and spent six years at a community college and never could manage the credits to transfer or to get an associates degree. At 40 I have no RL friends to hang out with.

I used to think my failures and lack of motivation was all a result of some interwoven fabric of various  character deficiencies and general stupidity, but have come to the realization that the condition of my life is but an outward manifestations of my illness. For, there has never been lack of opportunity in my life or people willing to help me along the way. I have not been discriminated against and do not blame society or the economy, or anything other than the fact that depression has been a ball chained around my ankle all the days of my adult life.

So I march on. I can't make you understand what it is like to be chronically depressed any more than someone could make me understand being deaf, losing a child, becoming paralyzed, having been in a war, being raped, having cancer, or losing someone you dearly loved to suicide. There are just some things in life that can't be universally understood by everyone. So on I march, and as I look back on my past as only I can, I see that free will was rarely, if ever, has really been a factor for me. I simply took the path of least resistance ever since I was an adolescent. One step after the other, after the other, never exerting more energy than I needed to while fighting to keep from dragging my feet and stumbling.

I told my significant other before we were together, the woman who loves and understands me like no other, that I had depression. I explained it the best I was able, but she could not understand what she was getting into. A year later after being with me I asked her, "if we ever were to separate, would you go out with someone else if you knew beforehand that they had depression?" her answer was no. so on I march down this narrow road knowing that I am not headed for anywhere particular, for the only day I have hope to finally be released from the chains of this disease, is the day I am no longer able to breath. Only then will this death march end.

CopperCoil CopperCoil
36-40, M
10 Responses Dec 6, 2012

I have lately felt that, it is a burdon keeping it hidden from my loved ones. I'm loosing the battle of late, my life the last 6 years has been a struggle in every way. I know how hard it is to explain to someone that has never had to fight just to get out of bed. Hang in.

An architect at work -- letter upon letter and word upon word.

I think maybe depression is like autism: a spectrum. I do get very, very depressed at times, but I am fortunate in that I do have a strong belief in my capacity for happiness. However, when I sink in the darkness, it can get very dark, and it cannot be reasoned, explained away, of "fixed", until it gets better.

Society dictates that men are not to speak out about feeling depressed, it is seen as a sign of weakness. In reality, it is a sign of strength. Verbalizing your depression is in itself therapeutic. Depression is like diabetes or any other disease, it is treatable. Finding the right help is daunting. Finding the right medications and physicians, therapists can be difficult. Kudos for you wife for sticking with you. Good luck, and do not give up.

I like it, but I want to edit it. I don't mean any disrespect. Every writer needs an editor. And I guess I am just in the mood to edit. Again, please, I mean no disrespect whatsoever.

I relate with your writing.

Pm me the edited version and I will fix it.

*sighs*You sum up perfectly what Joel was trying to express to me when we were together. I spent so much time and energy trying to help him... to bring hope and sunshine and happiness and excitement into his life... but it never worked for long. Depression was his default mode. It's not his fault and it's not yours. It just breaks my heart, because I desperately want for you to be happy...

Believe it of not you may not have ever felt effective against joel's depression, but you were. Those who love us are often the only reason we keep fighting. At times love is the only thing that breaks through the darkness.

Thanks Coppy. Sad thing is, he ended up giving up on us.

<p>You bring tears to my eyes for I wish it could be so different. It seems all the doctors and all their magical pills can't put us together again</P>

I didn't click on thank the author, for none of the catergories expressed what is in my heart. For me this story is the way I have been feeling for well over a year, but I could never express what I'm feeling the way you have in your story. It's been with me off and on for 15 years. Do you really think there is no end until our last breath or is that what you feel?

Thank you for commenting. As much as I hate this and wouldn't want anyone to know this feeling, it is of some comfort not to feel alone. I think hope is a subjective thing. I think we all must find hope whenever and wherever we can. I can not speak for all depressed people, just for myself. Life is hard for the best, brightest, and healthiest among us, but for those with any chronic debilitating, whether mental or physical, it is made many times harder. My personal experience tells me that this broken part of me can never be fixed, only made more tolerable.

Never ending...ah, Coppy, you're so intelligent, so able to write what most cannot.

You deserve to feel better. You really do.

Thank you xo

Your story was touching and beautifully written. We all experience depression in our own unique way. I hope you can find solace in the fact that you are not alone. Thank you for taking the time to write this.