Depression Army

Marching Out of the Dark

Depression Army is a growing and dynamic international movement that aims to end the stigmatism surrounding mental illness and to serve as a community of support for those undergoing one.

The Struggles of My "Normal" Life

Why is it that some people seem to have it all, yet still suffer from crippling depression? The answer is different depending on who you talk to. Depression Army invites you to take a look into the life of one such person in this deeply heartfelt account of their life. Perhaps you will even gain some understanding of yourself in the process?

Written by Cassandre

I always knew something was strange about me. Ever since I was a child I was the lonely type, always in my books or thinking instead of going out and making friends.

In fact, I’ve never been very good at making friends because I’ve always felt like an outsider. Eventually I got used to that loneliness. Sometimes it even made me feel kind of good. I kept that feeling of being an outsider inside for a very, very long time. Actually, probably all my life.

I started to wear a mask when I was a kid. I kept it on for so long it became like my face and… well, you can’t remove your face, can you?

Growing up, I went from the calm kid to the weird teenager. When people my age were worried about their dates and their grades, I started living in “another world.” I imagined stories taking place in a faraway land or fantastic stories taking place in our world.

My life was boring. These stories were a way to escape my reality.

I still have them in my mind today. Sometimes I think about writing them down, but it’s very hard to get motivated when you suffer from depression. You don’t feel like doing anything.

Becoming an adult was supposed to be the answer ‘cause an adult can do whatever they want!

Now I realize I’ve been pretty stupid.

When you are a child or a teenager, there are people that care about you. If you are not feeling alright you can always ask for help and even if the first adult won’t help, eventually you’ll find someone.

When you are an adult, you are pretty much alone… 

As I got older, I kept living with those feelings of loneliness and emptiness but it got worse ‘cause now I wasn’t allowed to escape reality anymore. I had obligations to attend to. Soon, I lost self-confidence. I started to suffer from anxiety and I even thought about ending it all.

One day, I was waiting for my train to go home. Suddenly, I found myself walking towards the rails. When I realized what I was doing, I stopped. But, when I got home and my boyfriend asked me about my day, I just smiled and said, “Fine.” That was the only time I “attempted” something. 

Hear me out. I’ve never wanted to kill myself. I’m too scared about the pain and what’s waiting for me after. But, I started to feel like if I died from an accident or something, it wouldn’t be that bad.

I know what some of you are thinking. “Why didn’t you ask for help back then?”

I did.

Some years ago, I went and asked for help. But, it seems I was “too young” and not unfortunate enough.

I started to suffer from paralysis of the right leg. Every time I was on my way to work, it would stop working. I saw 3 or 4 different doctors, did a lot of tests; all negative. My leg was perfectly fine.

“You just want sick leave.” I was told.

I was 20 at the time and when I talk about it today, doctors say it was burn out. It did not exist back then. It was just me being “a spoiled, lazy brat” looking for attention.

A little brat with bruises on her arms and almost no skin left on her fingers. (It’s called dermatillomania and I’ve been doing it ever since I was a child. It calms me.) But, nothing to worry about.

I know you may be asking, “Wait, the girl was harming herself and removing her skin and no one saw it?!”

Well, maybe they did see it but what could they do?

Talk to me? Give me pills? Get me in a rehab center?

You need to know something. When you’ve suffered from this for such a long time, you sadly start getting used to it. It becomes a part of you and people start seeing it as a part of you too. I was drowning, but to the people around me I was just pessimistic and had a bad temper. In a way, I let them believe that was true.

Why? I honestly still don’t know.

In November of 2016 I was diagnosed with depression.

The pain was so far gone that I decided to attempt to ask for help again. I started treatment (my doctor doesn’t really care, she just gives me pills) and a psychoanalysis because I felt I needed to go deeper than just psychotherapy.

Just so you know, my life has always been “normal.”

Thank God I’ve never experienced trauma like abuses or accidents. Aside from a weird family, I had a normal childhood. I say weird family because my parents never really loved each other, and my mom was a depressed alcoholic.

I didn’t really have good relations with my dad until some years ago. It was mostly because I was influenced by my mom and I try to avoid her as much as possible ‘cause she makes me feel so bad. I struggle not to drown from watching her kill herself slowly with alcohol. I can’t do anything and thus it makes me feel so bad and so powerless. It’s not an excuse, of course, but maybe it affected me in a way.

My psychoanalysis was... pretty hard. We talked about a lot of things like my childhood of course but also about my present life too. I could not remember a day, even as a child, when I didn’t feel empty and out of place. I realized that I’ve been like this ever since I could remember. It impacted me a lot because I hadn’t thought about it that way before. I mean, when each day is a battle, you can’t waste energy thinking about the day before. It’s counterproductive.

Why was I feeling that bad?

I had a job, money, an apartment, a companion who loves me and 3 adorable cats (who don’t love me, of course. They’re cats).

The guilt. The guilt of having what others did not and still being unhappy was driving me mad!

I wasn’t starving! I wasn’t living in a country at war! I wasn’t sick! Why wasn’t I happy for God’s sake?!

The answer was so simple…

I was unhappy because I was living in a world I could not understand.

Remember when I told you about the worlds I invented when I was younger? Things were not perfect in those worlds, of course. I know you can’t make a story about a perfect situation, but things were more normal to me. If someone needed help, they would get it, and the people that helped them knew that they would get that help back in return. No need to ask.

Wars would be resolved not with weapons but with words. People would work for a common goal instead of personal benefit.

I kept asking, “Why are there wars?”

“Why are we letting people starve when we destroy so much food every year?”

“Why is everyone, including me, so selfish?”

I remember what my psychoanalyst said then. He removed his glasses, smiled sadly and said, “You are very intelligent.”

That’s when I understood.

I was not unhappy because of external causes, but because of myself. I was living in a world I did not understand. A world where I could not be myself. A world so… illogical.

I could not fit in because I refused, when I was a child, to get in line, to do what others told me just because they said so. Children always ask about everything. They always ask you “why” when you say something. My problem was I never stopped asking why. As I grew older, my why’s became more complex. It was to the point I could not find answers anymore. The more I asked myself questions, the less I understood the world I was living in.

It was like being in the middle of a crowd, watching people walking around you without a second thought. But, instead of walking alongside them, I kept wondering, “Where? Why?”

I needed to understand. But, in the end, is there really anything to understand?

I remember a sentence from an old movie I saw recently called Unbreakable. In the movie, one of the characters says, “You know what the scariest thing is? To not know your place in this world. To not know why you're here. That's... that's just an awful feeling.”

There is a reason why this movie became my favorite. It’s all about living in a world without knowing who you are and where you are going.

I wish I could travel, go to other countries, discover new lands, meet people, learn from them, help them in their daily lives as they would help me in mine. But… it’s just not possible. Not today. Not in the world I live in.

In this world, I have to get up every day just to do a boring job to get the money I’ll spend on my rent, my groceries, and “entertainment” to help me forget because things are not as simple as I always thought they should be. I feel like in my world I’m nothing. No one. I’m here and tomorrow I’ll be gone. Someone else will take my place and I won’t have done anything with my life.

I’m expendable.

Of course, I’m not the only one. Some people eventually get tired of their life as just another puppet. They say, “No more.” and just do what they really want, become who they really are.

I admire and envy them. I could do the same but I’m scared. Scared about the consequences that could occur. I could fail or get hurt. Eventually I could even die.

So instead, I choose the easiest way. I’m like the frog from that story, the one that slowly boils to death without noticing it. Except the frog is aware, and turned the heater on herself.

Like I said earlier, my story is not extraordinary. It can even sound boring or just like whining. But, I can’t believe I’m the only one feeling this way.

I’m not unique.

I know that somewhere there is someone like me with a “perfect life” that is slowly sinking and feeling guilty about it. I just want to tell that person, “You are not alone. If you are not the scared type, don’t get into the boiler.”

My name is Cassandre. It’s not my real name. It’s the one I chose, the one I am, and I hope my story brought you some comfort.


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Created in 2015 by a group of people dedicated to ending the stigma on mental illness