I was eating dinner with my parents the other night when my dad said he “had to show me something on YouTube.” If you know anything about my dad, you know that this usually means it’s a video he found on Reddit (yeah, he Reddits) or a cat video. Or both.
He showed me this video instead. I encourage you to watch it in its entirety, including the commentary at the beginning, but if you’d rather fast forward, start around the 1:10 mark.
So I was curious enough to see what a desert flash flood looked like. My dad and I have always had penchants for weird weather things, so I was loving every second of it. I might have even considered a career as a flash flood chaser for a second or two. But then, halfway through the video, it struck me–this is an incredibly apt depiction of my bouts of depression.
I should say now that depression is different for everyone. Everyone feels a unique pain, everyone feels a different numbness, everyone feels a distinctive, inexplicable, unsolvable melancholy.
I’m asked often enough, “what’s it like to be depressed?” To be frank, you don’t want to know. I don’t want you to know. Sadness and depression are two very different things, but this video visualizes my depression hauntingly well.
Let me pull it apart.
It rains pretty far away (in this video, 40 miles away). But then, without warning, a flash flood develops. I often dwell on things that happened years ago, 40 miles ago. My gene pool is a breeding ground for mental health issues. My subconscious holds on to things that I’ve tried to forget. Before I know it, the thoughts are creeping in from every direction and I try to stop them and
the rain wash, my thought process, is getting “clogged up with debris,” which tries to slow the front down. My debris is my everyday routine. Work. My friends. My family. My books. My yoga. My walks. My workouts. My writing. My drawing. My painting. My relaxing. My healthy diet. My endless coping mechanisms. My mania (as much as I hate to admit that). I try and I try and I try to stop the flood and it’s almost working until
the rain accumulates at the front of the wash. Is it too late? I have a chance. I can fight this. I can stop this from happening. I won’t let this happen again. I work furiously to stop the front and it’s almost working, but then
the water accumulates. It’s too late. The thoughts are there and they are unavoidable–spiraling little leeches that hold on and don’t let go. Depression doesn’t let anything go untouched in its wake. Friendships are destroyed with unanswered phone calls and text messages. Laundry goes undone for weeks. Food is eaten in disgusting quantities. Getting out of bed takes hours. My entire body (everything) hurts. I’m on the verge of tears (or just sobbing) for no reason. My mind deteriorates. All I can think about are the dark, deep down things…
and there it is. The rushing, flowing, dark, and even sometimes beautiful water (for there is always beauty, even in depression). It fills every hole and crack and crevice and void I didn’t know existed. The only thing worse than staying in depression is getting out.
But the flood always dries up. As much as I hate my ping-ponging moods, I try to hold on with everything I have, knowing that it will pass. It. Will. Pass.
After the flood has passed, I’m left looking at the carnage of what depression left behind. I think NOAA’s tips for after a flood say it all:
1. Wait until it is safe to return (I know it will come back, but I’ll know more next time).
2. Travel with care (I’ll avoid the people and things that trigger me).
3. Check for safety before entering a flooded building (don’t go back to those thoughts that started it all).
4. Take pictures of the damage (write about what happened; use it as a map).
5. Get professional help (yup, it’s time to go back to the doctor).
6. Your home is no longer a safe place (can I really trust myself? No. See step 5.)
7. When making repairs, protect your property from future flood damage (and this is what I’m working towards everyday).