The Never Ending Climb: My Definition of Depression

People describe depression in many different ways. It is a disease that is particularly difficult to articulate, which by no means is a surprise and a reason why it is largely misunderstood.

The most common explanatory words used to describe depression are “living in a fog”, “carrying extra weight” or “the black dog”. I am sure many of these phrases sound familiar but what do they really mean?

One of the most arduous challenges in my life has been finding a way to best describe what depression is to others. For years I have searched deep inside myself for words that could match the feelings I have experienced but nothing has ever measured up. It is like there are no words yet created in the dictionary to define and embody the true meaning of depression.

Depression needs a definition though and an accurate one in order for anyone to be able to understand this disease. That is in fact how we learn what anything in this world is. It is defined and explained to us and ingrained into our minds. If something exists without a definition then is it really anything at all?

I can not speak for all the unknowns in this world but I can promise you from my own up close first hand experience that depression is there; it is real and it is rampant.

I think I could live 10,000 lives before I could take what I feel inside and get in down on paper, to get it right. For depression is a complex and magnificent enigma. However it couldn’t hurt to take a shot at it. When it comes to the unknowns of this universe we have to start somewhere even if we aren’t sure exactly where to begin……so here it is my definition of depression.

Depression (noun): A soul suffering from depression is climbing a never-ending mountain. There is no top to ever reach, no destination, no finish line. They are just always endlessly ascending.

The mountain does not stay the same though. It has the ability to change itself; morph hour-by-hour, day-by-day, month-by-month, into whatever form and conditions it pleases, with no forewarning.

One day you could find yourself carelessly and effortlessly strolling the paths of a slightly sloping climb, making steady progress. These are the sunny days, the clear sky days, the alive days. No baggage needed, you are just blissfully and naively enjoying the ever-upward motions of life.

Then in a split second everything changes. You’re caught off guard. All of a sudden the sun disappears behind storm clouds that begin to roll in (there’s no weather forecast for these types of storms).

Whether it is rain, sleet or snow all of a sudden you find it difficult to make any forward progress. You are no longer living your are just trying to survive. That slightly sloping mountain has transformed into steep rocky cliffs. You become weighed down with wet soggy clothes drenched in what feels like a torrential downpour. It is impossible to see where you are going, like traveling through a blinding blizzard.

You spend hours walking thinking you are going a direction, any direction, only to find that you have been walking in exhausting circles for hours or even months on end.

That’s when it happens; you make one misstep and find yourself helplessly sliding and tumbling down the mountainside. Once your weak, fatigued and fragile body finally comes to a stop all you can do is curl up into a ball and wait it out; lost, numb and alone, hoping that you have the strength to outlast yet another storm.

Then in an instant the mountain transforms again, because that’s exactly what it does. The storm clouds lift and the sun shines back through. You are no longer drenched in wet heavy clothing or covered in dirt and mud from your tumultuous fall. You find your self lying in freshly planted grass that is transferring energy back into to you; reviving you.

The storm has passed, you have survived, you are at peace again. Then you look up to the sky and see how far you have fallen and how much progress has been lost, progress that you may have spent an eternity working on. You survived this storm and are alive once again but is it worth the cost? Is it worth all that you have lost, all the work that needs to be re done? It makes you wonder if you would have been better off never making it out of the storm alive at all.

But there is no time to linger on those thoughts because like I said depression is a perpetual climb and now that you are alive and awake again you have no choice but to keep moving upwards, no matter how tired you may be still be or how steep the path is. You have to keep going because that is what the mountain of depression demands of you.

The cycle continues, the storms and clear skies, the progress and regression and through it all we never stop moving. We are either climbing upwards towards success and happiness or hopelessly falling deeper into a dark abyss.

Like I said there is no peak to this mountain, it never ends. It is a climb you will continue for a lifetime, hoping that the sunny days linger for as long as possible and the storms come and go quickly without leaving too much damage or suffering in their wake (this is rarely the case).

However there is a base to this mountain and there is always a risk that one day you will make that fatal step. A misplaced footing or a loose grip on reality and then you fall and never stop falling until you reach the very bottom. And that I can tell you there is no coming back from. There are no clear skies waiting on the other side. This time the storm wins. You cannot start the climb over once it has ended. Just as a person cannot continue to live after they have died.

****

This description of depression is only the tip of the iceberg. The complete meaning lies deep under water like a massive glacier packed within the ice, each layer filled with its own mysteries.

To this day I continue to search for answers no matter where it requires me to look. Because with answers we can finally put the last pieces of the puzzle of depression together once and for all and read the map to its demise.

The one promise that I have made to myself is that no matter how far I fall on those dark stormy days I will always get back to where I was. I will not let the demons that lurk in my mind and hide in the caverns of the mountainside, keep me down. I will never let them win.

It will take a brave soul to dive down into those icy waters in search for answers with no guarantee they will come back with anything or even come back at all. I can honestly say I have tried and it’s no easy task. Depression is cunning and it keeps its secrets hidden well in the most difficult places to find.

But that does not give us an excuse to ever stop searching.

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8 responses to “The Never Ending Climb: My Definition of Depression

  1. Pingback: The Never Ending Climb: My definition of depression | Breaking the Silence of Depression·

  2. Beautifully said, probably the closest we will ever get to truly letting one take a peek inside. Thank you for sharing. This is vital and life-giving.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mary thank you so much for your kind words. You are correct there are still so many layers to peel back before we as a society can truly understand depression. My goal here is to try and shed as much light on this dark disease as possible and let people out there know they are not alone. I am so glad that my words were meaningful to you. Please share this with anyone who you think this post could help.

      Best,
      Olivia

      Like

  3. Liv this so hard to read and so important. I believe my depression over the years has been situational but maybe not. I do feel many of the feelings you have described but can never express. I think I just become to exhausted to respond to whatever I think I “should” then feel even worse about. You are so right hard to explain but some days are better..especially sunshine and light bring hope (for me) lets talk more about this. I think it helps

    Liked by 1 person

    • Judy thank you so much for your comment. Yes depression is impossible to describe in one post/paragraph/definition and I do agree that it situational hence the changing mountain..it is always manifesting in different ways. I do think it’s hard to discuss which is why I made this post as hard as it is to post publicly I think it is the only way to heal. Can’t wait to get together again soon. Thank you for your support

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  4. Like I told you on twitter, your definition is the best I’v read – even though there are more layers to peel as we always have more to learn.

    I have experienced many depressive episodes and used to feel like they were those mountains you describe here, and I add quakes that open the earth’s deep chasms into which I felt like falling and disappearing into unseen caves…
    I’ll say there that I personally love real mountains for hiking and recharging, but not the desperation that comes with depressive chasms that open up in ever changing mountains.

    I have shared your blog on mine, and I’ll also expand on this comment after sharing this particular entry – I’ll let you know what that is done in case you want to read.

    Thank you again for sharing courageously your story, Liv.

    Yours, Lulu

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    • Lulu,

      I feel your description was a beautiful compliment to mine and you are right there are many more layer of mental illness that we must continue to peel back. I wrote that post awhile back and though I still agree I try hard to live my life in the sunny “casual rolling hill” types of days rather than the stormy chasms we talk off. Also something else I have discovered over the past year since I wrote this is that when you are going through a stormy treacherous path trudging through isn’t always the best option even though it might seem admiral. Sometimes buckling down and building fort to protect you until the storm has passed is in fact the best to do. Yes in the end you will have made no forward progress but you are maintaining your ground and preventing yourself from sliding down the avalanche of depression

      Best
      Liv

      Like

  5. Thank you for the compliment about my addition to your definition.
    I agree, it’s important to know when to go on during such a storm, and when to stay put – and take cover. We sometimes must accept such delays on our path.
    Hugs,
    Lulu

    Like

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