Everyone is different, so it stands to reason that how we all would experience depression is different as well. To me, in the darkest hour, it felt as if I was sitting at the bottom of a deep dark well; trapped and alone without the slightest hint of light. I saw nothing, I felt nothing. I was nothing. Nobody cared if I was dead or alive, and neither did I.
“People break, not because they are weak, but because they’ve been strong for too long.”
He had been my best friend for about 8-10 years when he confessed his feelings to me. Honestly, I didn’t know what to make of it or how I felt. I’d always seen him as my best friend, nothing more, though he, apparently, had had feelings for me for quite some time. I didn’t know how to process that either. I knew that if we became a couple and something went wrong I would have lost my best friend, but after a week or so I decided to let a kiss have the final say. That’s the tale of how I fell in love – for the first time – with my best friend.
I’ve always been quite romantic at heart, especially when I was 20 years old and hadn’t experienced real love before, so naturally I began fantasising that once we were both finished with our education we would find a house, get married and have kids. He was supposed to finish his education a year and a half before me. This was perfect since we could then start saving for the future – and perhaps take a small but well-deserved vacation.
I had quite a nice saving due to my gap year (I was working in a local supermarket) and was planning to move into my own apartment. Suddenly, he wanted us to move in together and so, after being an item for 3 months, it was decided. 5 months later we had our own apartment. He promised me the world but it didn’t last long. Slowly he began to change, and I began to feel like his mother. Not because I wanted to but because he forced me to. Now, I come from a family where you keep your word, turn up when promised and work hard. Therefore, I was disappointed that he never made dinner, or did much else on his own initiative. He disappointed me every time he stayed home instead of attending school with the result that he got thrown out.
As the years went by it got worse and every time we had an argument he became vicious. I told myself it was a rough patch, that next year would be better, but it didn’t happen. He began calling me names such as bitch and whore. Every time he called me those words he would look directly into my eyes and I had a strong feeling he enjoyed seeing me get hurt. He is a very tall guy, and he could get angry and explode in a second, so I avoided fighting with him – because I was scared of him. I remember an episode where he pushed me really hard, one where he tried locking me out of the apartment, and once we were in Germany he almost left me there by running to the car, locking me out and started driving. He broke my heart more times than I remember by breaking up with me. It happened so often that I started to not care as much because he never meant it, but every time hurt just the same.
Despite all of this he never apologised for hurting me or acknowledged that he was in the wrong. On top of this he never wanted to spend time with me. He always said that couples shouldn’t be glued together, and he didn’t seem to understand that you can go do your thing and still spend an hour or two with your, supposedly, loved one. He would spend days in his room playing games, and talking to his friend. Towards the end, the only time I’d get his attention was whenever he wanted us to be intimate. Despite my best efforts I started feeling like a whore; I was only worth spending time with whenever he wanted sex. I especially remember an incident where he came into the living room and we started kissing. As soon as I sensed that he wanted sex I said: “can’t we just kiss?” and he looked at me as if I was crazy and said in a nasty tone: “I see you’re not putting out tonight,” and left me by going into the other room, shutting the door firmly.
It didn’t help that some members of his family didn’t particularly like me. Especially his sister. I have a theory that she wanted her brother to be with a pushover and that wasn’t me. Both his mother and sister blamed me for his behavioural change, and because he was very charming when other people were around they were oblivious to my sufferings – or perhaps they didn’t care. After all, I was just a temporary girlfriend who he had been with for more than 4 years, right? When people keep telling you that you deserve to be treated badly you start to believe them. Seeing all of this in retrospect I’ve realised just how much I endured for almost 6 years. Psychological abuse is a hard word, and even if I don’t think – or know – if it applies, it is the only term that is close enough.
Obviously it wasn’t this bad for 5 years. I’ve always felt like a toad who enters a cauldron with cold water, but slowly the water starts to boil – the water gradually gets warmer – and the toad won’t notice it before it’s too late.
That’s the loneliest I’ve ever been.
Somehow I managed to get my bachelor degree but I knew something was wrong. I had not been happy for a long while and when I finally would laugh the sound was hollow.
I went to my GP and I only managed to say: “I think I need help,” before I broke down crying. He asked me to take a test and a few minutes later I was officially diagnosed with depression. In Denmark we have mild, medium and major. I was diagnosed with depression of medium degree due to the fact that I wasn’t suicidal, and just like that I’d become one of those people who’d suddenly gotten a full time job being ill. I remember my GP asking me: “what are your thoughts about medication?” to which I replied: “NO! No medicine!” Afterwards I was happy with my decision because it allowed me to feel – or at least, once I regained the ability to feel, I’d know. To this day, being ill has been the most stressful experience of my life.
Through this entire process I didn’t care about eating, so I didn’t, and yet I kept gaining weight. I’ve always been slim and seeing my own body in the mirror grossed me out, but I didn’t have the energy to do anything about it.
I knew that I was in deep water so I found a psychologist and started going to therapy. Attending therapy once a week would drain me for energy and I would spend the rest of the week recovering. Eventually, she helped me to realise that I had to get out of my current situation but it was hard, I felt trapped, and I didn’t know what to do. I have never been one to give up, no matter the cost. However, when I woke up on my 25th birthday and immediately started crying it was as if something inside me said: “ENOUGH!” 3 months later we both moved back in with each of our parents, in my case my mom since my parents are divorced. My sweet mom later told me that she was horrified by the state I was in, like a zombie. I knew that I wanted to break up with my boyfriend but I wasn’t strong enough and, honestly, I didn’t feel like I owed him anything. 6 months after moving back in with my mom I broke it off with him, face to face. Of course he didn’t believe me at first. He thought I did the same to him as he so often had done to me; breaking it off without meaning anything by it. I remember looking him in the eye and saying: “I would never do that.” He then asked me if I was seeing someone else and I broke out in spontaneous laughter. Not because I was mocking him but because it seemed so utterly absurd. As if I was even capable of loving anyone in my current state. I only felt broken, shattered into a thousand pieces. Later that month I also broke it off with a friend because she “didn’t believe in depression” and was rather nasty towards me. I figured that I might as well get rid of all the people who only made my life worse. I never regretted that decision. I was officially declared healthy after spending almost 2 years being ill full time. I will always remember September 1st 2016 as the day I got a second chance to start a new life for myself.
I had moved into my new apartment August 1st, just a month before, and threw myself into the world of decor. I felt ready to look for a job though I was still on alert for early signs of depression. I knew from my GP that the chances were higher at relapsing in up to 2 years after recovery and I swore never to let that happen. Through therapy I’ve learned to recognise early signs of stress and mental discomfort, and I must say that that has been a huge help ever since. I even wrote my psychologist 6 months later to thank her. Without her this process would have been more painful and have taken a shitload of time (pardon my French).
It became a goal of mine to find people and things that meant something to me and would bring me happiness which is why I was ecstatic when Pottermore announced that they would start a Book Club. I’d been neglecting my inner Potterhead for years and it was time to bring her back. I had tried Twitter once before, and didn’t care much for it, but making a new account was by far the best decision I ever made. I told myself that this time it’ll be different, and it certainly was.
I have been through a lot since 2016 and I am proud of the person I’ve become (even if it’s not popular to say because it makes me sound like a total douche). The people who are in my life are there because I care for them and they care for me.
If love was a currency I would be rich indeed.
About the quote: I took the liberty to paraphrase Johnny Depp. Here is the original quote: “People cry, not because they are weak. It is because they’ve been strong for too long.”