Depression

            Well, I decided to debut this category with a very complicated subject, but just as necessary. This is probably the first time that I will openly discuss this topic with people outside my closest circle. But as I said above, I believe that talking about depression is crucial to the fight against it. I believe that by exposing here how I dealt with and overcome this disease, I can help people who are going through what I went through a few years ago. And no, I don't want to play the hero or the supreme solution holder here, I just want to help by reporting how I faced this situation. What worked for me may not work for other people. But the focus here is not the solution itself. It is to show that, as difficult as it is to see it from the bottom, depression can be overcome.

            Let's start with “causes”, in quotation marks because depression is multifactorial and often does not have a clear cause. But I want you to understand the context of my situation, to make it clearer what was going through my head at that time. One of the most influential factors was the fact that I was lost. Lost in all possible aspects of that word, I didn't know which course I wanted to take, much less the profession I wanted to follow. In addition to being lost in relation to my sexuality, my relationships (including family members), and my own identity.

In addition, there was a family breakdown at that time, which started much earlier, in fact, with the separation of my maternal grandparents (the result of my grandfather's betrayals). This fact triggered a very destructive process that has effects until today, see how my aunts have psychological and emotional problems until today. Over time, I started to see how my family had problems, how being a bad apple was the rule and not an exception, considering the situations involving my grandparents, my dad's brothers, my mother's cousins, among others.

         Aside from that situation, there was still the bullying that he had suffered as a child, a trauma that he had never resolved. And that was even one of the reasons why I am still a suspicious, closed, and defensive person. Not least because my “best friend” at the time, instead of helping me, extorted me money in exchange for protection; difficult to trust people after all this, right? This is to mention some situations that influenced the depressive crisis that I had in 2017. And it was this year that the last straw came that made it all overflow and almost drown me in the process.

In 2017, I was studying medicine at FPS (Faculdade Pernambucana de Saúde). Theoretically, it was supposed to be okay, because since I was a child I talk about being a doctor. So I was supposed to be making a child's dream come true, and to be very happy about it. But that is not what happened. When I started studying, I was motivated at first, but I soon realized that this was not the course for me, and that I didn't want to be a doctor at all. The impact that this discovery had is difficult to describe, it was as if the biggest dream of your life was a great illusion, and you only realized it too late. Dealing with this and the pressure of expectations from everyone around me was the “fatal blow”. From there it was only downhill, the depression came with everything and it seemed that it would not be overcome.

Now let's go to the effects of depression on my life. The first was a growing lack of motivation for everything, even for living, and it consumed my energy more and more. Until I reached the point where I didn't leave my room, not even to go to college. I just stayed in bed, staring at the ceiling for hours, at most listening to some music. I just left the room to eat and go to the bathroom, and I talked to no one, I looked like a ghost (I spent the whole day without seeing my parents and my brother).

         The pressure for me to at least attend classes was there, but I just didn't care. I felt useless, a failure that walks and talks, and that was only a burden to everyone around me. In fact, it is good to clarify one thing: depression is not so much related to sadness, but much more to the feeling of emptiness. You are not necessarily sad, but empty, unmotivated, aimless.

The most critical moment of my depression occurred when I was still attending FPS. My parents have no idea about this event, only a few close friends know about it. Well, one day I didn't go to college again, so I was given the mission to pick up my brother from school (I think he was studying at GGE). As I had been in bed all morning, my hair was a mess and I had no time or desire to fix it, so I went to my parents' room to get a cap. I went to their closet, there was furniture in the center of the room with several drawers, in the last drawer were the caps.

When I opened that drawer and searched it for a hat that I liked, I accidentally found a gun that my father had at the time. Well, a gun in the hand of a depressive is a danger. I remember that day until today very clearly, I took that gun, it was cold to the touch, and I stared at it in my hands, surprised by the weight it had. Then an idea started to grow in my mind, as if a little demon whispered insistently in my ear, that I could end all my problems right there. Because I believed it was a burden on the lives of others, especially my parents, I really thought that if I didn't exist it would be better for everyone.

I knew that nobody would come so soon, we lived in a first floor house; Daurinha (maid) and Joacir (homemade) were downstairs in the kitchen, my parents at work, and my brother at school. I took the gun and put it in my mouth, aiming it against the roof of my mouth. I put my finger on the trigger and closed my eyes. However, I drew strength from who knows where and pulled the gun away, my breathing heavy, my heart racing. I put the gun away and never opened that drawer again (only a long time later, free of depression). Even today I have a deep aversion to weapons, I don't even like to see, much less touch. This event woke me up to the fact that I needed help, but I still sought it out months later (pure stubbornness).

            Throughout the process, my parents and friends tried to figure out what was going on in my head, but I didn't open up at all (especially with my parents). At one point I started to open up with my best friends, Ricardo and Gustavo, and they helped me a lot. At first, I denied that I needed professional help, I said that I had managed to resolve myself (obviously I couldn't).

The key turning point came when I finally made the decision to look for a psychologist, at that time it was already 2nd semester of 2017 and I had already left college. The funny thing is that this decision came from a bait by Ricardo. He simply said a two that I had already scheduled with his psychologist, Sophia, an appointment for me and that I had to go now. It kind of shook me and I decided I would go. I spoke to him and said that I would go, then he replied that he had been a bait, that he had not scored anything (hahaha, oh Jesus, my friends are incredible ...), but he was really going to do it now.

            Going to Sophia was the turning point, it helped me a lot to regain my mind and my emotional. I already tell you that seeking professional help is crucial in dealing with depression. A look from outside and someone who deeply understands the human mind is fundamental to guide you out of this emotional whirlwind. Another thing, within Psychology there are several types of approaches, methods, and styles. If you go to a psychologist and don't like it, try one with a different approach (Sophia uses the Jungian method) until you find one that you like best.

Now, keep in mind that you need to expose the whole truth to the professional, even if it is quite uncomfortable, so that he / she can give you the best diagnosis and treatment (you don't hide the symptoms from a doctor, the same goes for a psychologist). In my case, exposing my weaknesses, insecurities, and problems, helped me face my shadows face to face and consequently tame them.

            An example of how going to psychological therapy helped was how my relationship with my parents improved exponentially. Before, I was very close to them, not letting them know what I was going through. After a few sessions with Sophia, I started to open up more to them and nowadays I talk practically about everything with them (either to seek guidance, or just for them to know what's going on). The same happened with my friends, firstly with Gustavo and Ricardo. I gradually opened up to them more and there are certain things that only these two creatures know about me (and the reverse is true). And I tell you with conviction that having people I could trust and talk to openly was of paramount importance to my recovery.

Over time, I solved my internal problems, one by one. I started to trust people a little more (especially those closest to me), but without being too innocent (because it's enough of being fool). I created a concept of family that consists of my parents and my brother; I leave the rest out until they regain my trust.

I started to deal better with my “failures,” because life is not just about victories, is it? We have to learn to face defeats too, and learn from them. In this way, the idea of me being a complete useless person gradually disappeared. I also accepted the fact that I was wrong about medicine, and that there is no problem with that. Then my search for the ideal course and the right profession began, which took another 1 or 2 years, until finally I decided to pursue a writing career. But that is for another post (this one is already too long).

Anyway, after 1 year in therapy, I decided not to go anymore, because I no longer felt the need. Now, that was a very well-thought-out decision, it took me a week or more to make that decision with total conviction. Be sure to go to the psychologist on the first impulse, wait and see if this is really the best choice. One thing is certain, after all this experience dealing with depression, today I know myself much more deeply than before. In addition to having a more, let's say, efficient mental domain. It's hard for me to be shaken, but when it happens I know how to handle it with ease.

         I started to accept my feelings more openly, before I was kind of the “impassive, cold and calculating guy.” Which was a big lie, I acted like I didn't feel anything, but I felt everything. I lied so well about it that even I came to believe that I had no feelings. Today, regardless of the feeling, I live it as it should be lived (I love, I smile, I cry, I get angry ...).

Another thing, today I pose new challenges and goals for me to continue motivating myself to go further and further. For example, in addition to completing my course (Creative Writing), I intend to finish a book project by next year. In addition, of course, to continue feeding this blog with interesting content. And I do it all with conviction and confidence. What I want to get at is that if you told me 3 years ago that I would be so confident and calm, I would laugh at you, because at that time it was unthinkable. That is, when we are at the bottom of the well it is very difficult to see the light, the surface, but it is there, waiting for us. We "only" need to reach it.

Now, to do this you will need help, someone to throw a rope at you and pull you out of the well. So, the first step is to recognize the problem, and the second is to seek help. And that way you will gradually improve, and when you find yourself, the storm has passed, and a beautiful rainbow extends in front of you. But, as I said in the introduction, the focus of this post is not to provide a "magic solution", not least because what worked for me, may not work for other people. But yes, showing through my story that as frightening and oppressive as depression is, it can be defeated. I wrote this post to give hope, to throw a little light on those who have long been enveloped in darkness. And I really hope that I have helped at least a little.


P.S.: If you want to talk about something related to this topic, or even vent, you can contact me through the comments, through the Suggestions, or through the social medias exposed in the section About the Author.

Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Po%C3%A7o_Quinta_da_Regaleira_(7).jpg

Alexandre Souza

Alexandre Souza is a Brazilian novelist that writes dark and supernatural stories, and also explores fantasy and historical fiction. He’s earning a BFA in Creative Writing at Full Sail University. He has flash fictions published at Adelaide Magazine and Scarlet Leaf Review. He’s a mythology and supernatural geek and uses this knowledge to enhance his work.

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