A Journey with Depression: The Recurring Battle

CHAPTER 1: GLIMMERS OF LIGHT

Sometime last year, a friend asked if I had any experience with depression and if I did, could I write something about it, something about how I have coped with it or how I overcame it in a bid to encourage others who might be struggling with depression. For most part, I was super excited about writing down my experience and grateful for the opportunity to share my escape with others. I knew, somehow, one or two persons would read that article and be hopeful for the next day, they would know that this journey has an end and they don’t need to suffer alone in the dark tunnel.

That article was titled ‘Glimmers of Light’. In that article, I wrote about my glimmers of light in the long dark tunnel. These glimmers, I wrote, were the ones who helped me hold on, the little lights that gave me hope that the tunnel indeed does have an end and even if it feels like this tunnel of darkness wouldn’t end I could hold on to these lights and know that the darkness is only a facade. I wrote about my friends being some of my little lights. Even when they do not realise it, they’ve helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel on more than one occasion. I also mentioned my go to Scripture (lover of Jesus here winks) when I am at my lowest, Jeremiah 29:11 ‘For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.’ Somehow, knowing that God’s plan for me does not involve the darkness that threatens to envelope my mind gave me hope, again another little light I can hold onto.

When I wrote that article, I thought these little lights were foolproof. I really didn’t realise that life was standing right in the corner to test my faith in my little lights in the dark.

Just then, my friends (I’ve never had more than a handful) started leaving. For someone who is used to not having lots of friends and making sure whatever happens, those I call friends would be the ones who would understand my inadequacies and not cut my head off for it, losing some (by some, I really mean ‘A LOT’) of these people really shook me in ways I never thought possible. My glimmers of light were slowly dwindling. If the tunnel came, which inevitably would happen, how would I find my way out, how would I survive the nightmare of the darkness that is darker than a moonless night? Only then did questions like “Does God really have thoughts of peace for me?” began to pop up in my head and the more I thought about these questions, the more I was inclined to believe he didn’t, even though I knew he did (Sometimes, listening to your head argue with itself is the most excruciating thing ever).

The tunnel did come, more than once, it came for me. Darkness darker than a moonless night, it came for me. Only then did I ask myself, “Where are my glimmers of light? Where is the way out?” It was then I realised that winning a battle one way only makes the enemy devise other ways to attack. I had lost another battle. Now, it felt like the scales had tipped against me one more time. The enemy was winning and grinning at me.

 

CHAPTER 2: EMPTY

I can’t really remember the first time the darkness came. If you ask me, I’d tell you that it has always been there in the shadows, waiting for its opportunity to rare its’ beautiful monstrous head. The darkness is a flexible creature, flexible in ways many people do not understand. Way too many times, you expect it to show up in a particular form and it ends up coming with a different tactic. Only one thing remains consistent and constant when it wants to show up. The emptiness that precedes the darkness, an emptiness that’s deep enough to make you feel that life is nothing but a pot of beans (… if we do think about it though, life is really just a pot of beans). When this feeling of emptiness did show up, I always knew I had a battle on my hands, I couldn’t avoid it any more and how I dealt with it would determine how long the darkness would stay.

Many times, the question comes up, “What triggered it?” or “What’s your trigger?” and I don’t think they understand when I say, “I don’t know”. The bewildered look on their face or the awkward silence after I answer the question only makes it more obvious that they didn’t expect that answer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that it’s impossible for situations and random external influences to be triggers for the darkness. I am saying that, for me, at least 90% of the time, the darkness comes unprovoked.

Sometimes, I tell myself maybe I should accept it, maybe the darkness is meant to be a part of me, or maybe it’s something I don’t have a choice of dropping by the wayside. They’ve always said, “Every man has his cross to carry” and I tell myself that it’s my cross to carry. Sometimes, I feel it’s easier to accept a problem and realize that it might never leave you be, but I’ve been out of the tunnel a lot of times and I know there’s a better way to live and a better way to become the person I wish to see. Each time I grow that sense of positivity and hope, there’s this little thing at the back of my head whispering, “You know the darkness would still be back”. I’ve fought in this war for way too long and sometimes my mind is beaten and broken in ways that you cannot imagine. Each battle is a struggle, each battle is more excruciating than the last and I question the reason why I am here in the first instance.

You see, in other cases, the dread of the darkness is worse of than the darkness itself. Like a soldier who shits his pants right before the bullets begin to fly left and right and comrades start to drop dead. A soldier scared enough to give in and say, “Hey, I can’t do this”. The darkness does that to you in interesting ways. If you are conversant with torture in movies or in reality (I hope no one reading this is conversant with it in reality, though) , you would have seen scenes were the individual being tortured is worn out already and every single bit of resistance in him/her is absolutely spent and they give in to whatsoever their captors want. Now, the darkness doesn’t torture me in long stretches, only short and brutal phases. These battles, like I said, are excruciating. When you’ve fought enough of these short battles, you begin to question that resolve you have about the lights at the end of the tunnel. You begin to dread the darkness before it comes.

The only thing I am certain about in all of this is, I cannot let the darkness hold me down. I cannot let it dictate what dreams I can or can’t chase, I cannot let it dictate how I’d live this life God has given me. I cannot let it break my resolve and give in to my darkness. I promise you, I will fight till I win. I will fight for myself.

 

CHAPTER 3: QUESTION UNANSWERED

When I wrote the first draft for this article in June, I titled it ‘The Road To Recovery’ and like a little subtitle I wrote, “The question lingering is, would I ever make it through?”

Every day I sit down to think about this journey with depression, I wonder if there really is an end to this road. Like, would there be a day it would shut off the car and say, “Oyekunle, that was one hell of a ride. We’ve come to the end of the road. Enjoy your life and maybe we can do this again” and I reply as I step out of the dark car, “Nope, we’re never doing this again. Peace out” mic drop (Pardon me, my imagination takes its own course sometimes). Every time I ask this question about the end of the journey, I’ve never really gotten the answer. I guess that question would remain until I do figure out a way to get myself untangled.
In the meantime, I plan not to dread the darkness before it comes.

Someday, when I have found out the answer to the question, I’d write you a letter telling you I made it. If you don’t get that letter, know that I didn’t give up, I stayed fighting, I didn’t give the darkness an easy win.

Oyekunle ‘Fikayo Oyediran.

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