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The Dark Well

For the past few months, I have been depressed. If I’m being honest, my despair extends beyond the past few months. The negative, persistent thoughts that lead me to the edge of the dark well of depression have hounded me mercilessly since childhood. Any attempt to flee from them is futile.

I have been diagnosed with clinical depression three times in my life. Traumatic events seem to thwart my brain’s ability to regulate the neurotransmitters that keep my mood and emotions in balance. Each time, I fell into the dark well. Each time, it took medications and months of therapy to push the reset button on my mind’s circuitry.

This time feels different (do I say this to myself every time I get depressed?). Before, I had youth on my side and enough naivete to convince myself that things always get better eventually. Now I’m on the other side of forty and have less of an emotional support system. I do have a small circle of close friends I’ve known since my late teens and early twenties. They are a consistent and solid foundation that keeps me from losing my sense of security in a world where sometimes I cannot find my way. But I am also alone now more than ever. I find it hard to make new friends even though I think of myself as outgoing and gregarious. I find that I want to isolate myself at home and avoid people.

I know the desire to retreat is because of those voices that tell me I am not enough, not worthy, and why would anyone want to interact with you anyway? They are insidious and relentless, and it becomes impossible to discern whether or not they are helping or hurting me. If I pull back the lens to take an aerial view, I can see they want to take me down and are actively planning my destruction. But my vision is blurry and unfocused when I’m back here on the ground. That’s the fucked up thing about depression: I know the voices are lying, but I keep listening to them.

Even if I can’t stop them, I try to quiet them down. Amid my sadness, I looked out my window and saw that some of the trees near my building were changing colors in response to the Fall. Several of them are primarily green, but the tops are brilliant red. Why does that happen? I ask myself. I stare in wonder and realize that I am looking for hope. I want to be hopeful.

Today, this reality is enough to keep me going. I will step away from the dark well.

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