Depression Makes the Pain of Your Past Worse
I have told this story before.
Once upon a time I knew a beautiful girl who we’ll call Jane. Jane was curvaceous, feminine, sweet and generous. Jane and I became lovers overnight.
And then life happened and we broke up. My fault, actually. I couldn’t handle having a girlfriend while being in the hospital.
But we remained friends while living our separate lives – very good friends and occasional lovers. It was pleasance punctuated with striking screams.
Then, when I went through electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), I turned to her for help. And help, she did. She stayed with me to help me through the first six treatments of ECT and for this I will be forever grateful. And when she left that day, to return to her life, I said something along the lines of, “Goodbye. I love you. I’ll miss you.” (At least I think I did. The ECT makes it all hazy.)
And she never spoke to me again.
As I have said, I’ve told this story before, to a variety of reactions, but people generally don’t believe me. They say I must have done something. It must have been my fault.
I didn’t do anything. I suspect she had just had enough. She just wasn’t strong enough to deal with the reality of my life.
And this broke me. Her cutting me out of her life without a word of explanation severed my heart in two. The ECT hadn’t worked and it had stolen my best friend. What can I tell you other than the fact that life sucks?
Painful Past Events
But, of course, this was all years ago – four-and-a-half years ago, to be exact. A lifetime, or so, ago. If you were to talk to her today, she might just say, “Natasha who?” Because she’s an adult and she went on to fill her life with a myriad of things to which I am not privy. She moved on.
And, naturally, I have too. I don’t sit around and cry at her memory on Thursday nights, or anything. I’m an adult. People will sear your soul. That’s life. It’s like that.
But today, I had to go out and the cherry blossoms are in bloom. We have many cherry trees here, they line many a street, and their beauty is inescapable.
And Jane loved cherry blossoms. She would model for photo shoots in the arms of cherry trees just because she loved them so much. It’s impossible to see a cherry tree in full bloom and not picture her in it.
And the pain at the thought of her is every bit as raw and bleeding as the day I realized I would never see her again.
Depression Prevents You from Moving Past the Pain
What happened to me was a painful event; and, of course, we all experience painful events. And, of course, we all need to move past painful events. If we don’t , we will live in that painful place forever.
But what I’ve found is that depression prevents me from healing; depression prevents me from moving past the pain. In my mind, I say it’s over and done with long ago. I’ve cried all the tears I want to on the matter. But my brain is so depressed that it just seems to drag me down into the rut where that pain lives making it impossible for me to just get over it already.
When you’re Not Depression, the Past Feels like the Past
I notice, explicitly, when I’m not depressed, the memory of her does not feel like a rusted nail gun in my chest. It feels fine. It feels like it was years ago. It feels like past unpleasantness. It feels like the past. It feels like a scar – a wound that has become hard but healed. It’s okay.
But that all magically changes with depression. It’s like the pain comes to life again. My brain just grabs that past pain and hangs onto it. And then uses it to bludgeon me.
Pain is What Depression Knows
Depressed digs a hole of pain in your psyche and throws you into it, and even if you manage to climb out using epic fingernail clawing and gnashing of teeth, the hole is so big and so pervasive it takes nothing to fall back into it again; even the memory of past pain seems to do it. And depression sees this. Depression sees the past pain and uses it to trip you up. It uses it to throw you back into the hole.
And there’s no easy way around this. Not that I can see, anyway. The best thing I can think to do is to acknowledge the pain, acknowledge the fact that it is artificially inflated by depression and then try to ride out the agony the best way I know how. Acknowledgement and understanding doesn’t make the pain or the memories or the hole go away, but it does somehow lessen their strength – at least a little.
And that’s the best I can do for now. Because the problem isn’t the memory, the painful event or the cherry blossoms, the problem is the depression. And there’s no thinking yourself out of that.
About Natasha Tracy
Natasha Tracy is an award-winning writer, speaker and consultant from the Pacific Northwest. She has been living with bipolar disorder for 18 years and has written more than 1000 articles on the subject.