By Lydia Oyetunji
The sun is shining brightly through the window. It welcomes me to come out and enjoy all that it has to offer. Unmoved, the invitation goes unanswered. Instead, I give into my mental and emotional incarceration. I am in a dark place, and it is where I feel comfortable. My valley of lavender lilies and beautiful butterflies no longer exists. No matter how it may seem this dungeon is not where I choose to take up residence but where my mind and emotions force me to live. This is merely the effects of depression.
I was not always this person on a forever emotional roller coaster ride. I was once this consistently bubbly, outgoing, and happy person. Compliments about my permanent smile and optimism followed me for as long as I can remember. No one knew what lay dormant behind those gleaming brown eyes and contagious laugh. The saying goes, “The eyes are windows to the soul.” If this is true, then everyone I encountered was blind! Believe me; something burned deep inside, and for years, I kept the inferno at a spark. In the back of my mind, I knew things could change.
Life experiences, mainly in the form of bad relationships and repressed memories of childhood abuse, triggered my depression. Of course, I did not know what ailed me, until well after I began to self-medicate. Hoping and praying to climb my way up from the deep dark rabbit hole in which I fell. Those of us who suffer from depression have highs and lows. When we are on a high, our feet refuse to touch solid ground, but when we are low, we travel to the very depths of Hades. Marijuana and vodka were my anti- depressant. Mari motivated me to get out of bed, to work, eat, be more sociable than normal. Vodka helped me to deal with the demons in my head; he was there for me on lonely days and tucked me in at night. This arrangement worked, so if it is not broke, don’t fix it, right?
The methods I chose to deal with the depression never hindered me, my job, or my relationship with family and friends. Although, a close friend took note of the change in me. The increase in my back and forth behavior gave her probable cause to delve deep into the actions of a friend. Our heart to heart compelled me to confide in her deeply about the thoughts that affected me. Not everyone is as blessed to have friends that care, and that will not judge you.
I live with the mental illness called depression; this diagnosis, I kept a secret for many years. Refusing to take conventional medicine of any kind warranted the continued use of marijuana and red wine. My way of treating my mental illness worked to some extent. Although, if I were not using, I would be violent. It did not take much for me to fly into a rage that would then be followed by me shutting myself off from the rest of the world. Needing desperately to leave planet earth, I lost friends and alienated family – cowardly unable to face the demons forced upon me.
Currently, I continue to fight this disease. No longer do I self-medicate, nor do I take conventional meds. The highs are there, and occasionally the dark clouds loom over me. No longer do I have the feelings of wanting to lay forever in my valley of wilted lilies and dead butterflies. I seek refuge in the One Most High who continues to save me.