Let me tell you a little story.
It's about a girl, a bottle of pills, a church, a Bible, a God, a family history, brains, trauma, and chemicals.
There once was a girl who grew up hearing that depression, bipolar, personality disorders, any malaise of the brain and emotions, were all caused by one thing: evil spirits. Demons, phantoms, what have you. And that if you suspected you had an affliction, one that involved your brain and your feelings, you were suffering under the influence of one of those demons. If you could only pray more, if you could only listen to God's voice more, if you could only let the Holy Ghost chase out those unholy ghosts, you wouldn't feel this way. They told this girl that they saw the demons, they could see them with their own eyes, that God showed them the snakes and the scorpions and the hauntings. If those adults in her life could see them, then they must be real.
The girl suspected, from the age of about seven or eight, that something was wrong with her. Something in her brain was just a little too sad, a little too alone. She would climb up the shelving units in the hall, crawl into the space above the cupboards, and close the door, sit in the dark, stare at nothing, for hours. She would climb trees and sit in the branches and feel numb, feel nothing. As she grew, she felt worse, worse, and worse, but she kept it hidden, because she didn't want anyone to know she suffered from one of those phantoms, one of those demons. She was always afraid someone would see one on her back, whispering in her ear, like they saw them on her daddy's back. She was terrified, and she was suffocating.
As she grew into being a teenager, she went in and out of phases. It hit her in waves. Sometimes she even felt happy. But the phantoms never quite left her brain. They stayed simmering, just under the surface, an ever-present reminder of the swelling sadness of her body and heart.
And oh, the nightmares of her home. The nightmares of her daily life. The hiding, the lying, the secrets that occurred only behind closed doors, the double-life they all led. The things that happened that she was told to forget. The violence those walls knew.
All those things only made it worse.
One day, one day when this girl was becoming a little bit older, a little bit more rational, she decided to stop believing in the phantoms, in the demons that rode on your back and wrapped their fingers around your throat. She stopped listening to the whispers of the ghosts. She walked into a therapist's office, with its uncomfortable pleather couches, and she asked for help.
And now, things like pills and therapy are part of her every day routine. And they help, mostly. But some days the phantoms still grip her by the throat and she cannot move and she cannot sleep and she cannot eat and things are hard. Depression, she has learned, is a bitch.
But here is the wonderful, amazingly true thing about depression: it does not own her anymore. She does not hide in cupboards and behind lies and half-truths, and she does not fear it. It is part of her, but it is not all of her. She is alive and she is well and she is free.
Note: my experience with antidepressants is solely my own experience. I'm not endorsing them for everyone, and I'm not saying they're wrong for you. They helped save my life and my sanity, and I am grateful for my decision. Please refrain from leaving disrespectful or disparaging comments. Thank you.