noun · Psychiatry
persistent mild depression
I don’t know how it happened, nor can I recall when.
All that I recall is the day when I was diagnosed with dysthymia. I could clearly hear the psychologist telling my mother over the phone, “Your son is suffering from clinical depression, but it seems your daughter too has dysthymia.”
The term baffled me. I was not ready for such a diagnosis. After all, I was not visiting there for my problems, but for my brother. Was I going to die? Is it a mental illness that could affect my personal and professional life? Was I losing my memories? Whatever it was, I was not prepared for answers and I did not want to look it up.
It wasn’t until the next day, when my friend and colleague asked me about my visit to the psychologist, that I understood what it was. “You have mild depression, occurring over a prolonged period of time”, she said, making the term simpler for me. “But you always seemed fine, how can it be?” she asked, baffled.
I had no answer to her questions. But, at that moment, everything I had gone through from my childhood till then, flashed before my eyes. My parents’ constant squabbles since I could recall, the sexual abuse at the age of 11, being bullied in school and then being punished by teachers for no fault of mine, having no friends because I was fat, and finally failing at relationships because I could not trust anyone.
It all hit me. That was why I hated loud voices. It was the reason for my bouts of anger, self-harm, and emotional outbursts at trivial matters. I am living with dysthymia and had it not been for my brother’s visit to the psychologist, I would have never found out.
So, what is dysthymia?
In simple words, dysthymia is a form of chronic depression, which is however considered “milder” than the Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). The symptoms, as I was told, would, however, last much longer than in MDD.
To be diagnosed with dysthymia, a person would have been in a depressive state most of the time for at least two years. Today I am 35 years of age and I remember the first time I tried slitting my wrist at the age of 15. It’s been 20 years and here I am still fighting the dark battle with dysthymia.
How does it make me feel
There are mornings when I open my eyes and stare at the blank ceiling for hours till realisation hits me that I need to be at work. But, I do not want to go to work, I just want to be home asleep. The thought of leaving my front door makes me feel sick and nauseous. I have almost always been like this since I was 15. All I want is to be left alone.
Well, that is just the beginning. There are times when I burst out emotionally. I really do not know why I am crying, and I wish people would stop asking. I have tried committing suicide uncountable number of times and every time I was saved. I wasn’t being selfish, believe me. I just wanted the voices in my head to go away.
I have constantly been burdened with a sense of hopelessness, that somehow has affected every part of my life. It has always been there to keep me ‘down in the dumps’, only exaggerated by my family’s constant bickering and my partner’s mood swings, making me thirst more for self-destruction. For me, the glass has always been half empty, and I always thought of the worse that could happen to me.
My self-esteem dies every day, and everyday is a fight to bring it up again. I am always tired and lost. I can never make a decision because everything seems a blur. Dysthymia has always been a dark shadow, which I constantly try to run away from. It’s a heavy burden I carry every day, wearing a smiling mask, just so that I can fit in with everyone else in the crowd.
A person in depression needs as much love, care, and understanding as a terminally-ill person does. The problem is that our society is just not trained to handle the situation. After all, our brains have been trained to interpret mental illness as madness, which we all prefer to stay away from.
There are numerous people among us, who are like me and like in my experience all that we get to hear are remarks like these:
“You are a coward and only think about yourself.”
“Try being more positive in life, the law of attraction works!”
“Depression does not exist, it’s all in the mind.”
“If you think you are depressed, you obviously will be.”
“Why are you crying, I am so fed up.”
There is only a handful, who ever care, using the kind words “How are you feeling? Maybe I can help.”
Well, now is the time to reboot our minds and look at depression from a newer perspective. It could be your loved one, who is undergoing a hidden battle inside them. Depression needs a cure too, and the cure is your support. Think about it.