Dalano's story of how connection saved his life
I was around 11 years old when I began to believe life would be easier for me and for everyone around me if I just...wasn’t around. Heavy I know.
I didn’t have a clear idea of what 'not being around' would look like – that came later. At that point, that thought was the fire I played with, the tip of the iceberg, and it surely did snowball.
From my pre-teens to my early twenties, I was depressed. A lot of the depression I felt was from the feeling of failing under the crushing weight of expectation. The desperation I felt trying to reach and meet the targets I had looming over my head and the hopelessness that sinks in with a part of me knowing that I would never meet these expectations even if I didn’t know why.
People say many things about depression, it’s loosely mentioned sometimes. More often than not, in a slight of hand way, maybe even as a joke. For me it’s like a hole in your chest, a void. It doesn’t really hurt. It’s not grief, sadness even. Nor is it disappointment or fear, anger. It is silence. It’s a silent submission to what feels like the truth - that "there is nothing that I can do or can be done to me to…" blank.
I can’t finish the sentence, because I don’t know. Depression is not knowing, not conceptualising, not understanding what depression is and what you need to 'get out' of it. As a result, any train of thought that is destined towards something 'out of' depression is foggy, unclear.
Depression is numbness and isolation.
When I felt isolated, I felt like I couldn’t get connection and felt cut off. I think when this happens, your mind fills in the gaps and comes up with its own reasons for why things are the way they are, you start a self-destructive process of picking yourself apart and finding faults within yourself without even realising that this is what you’re doing.
It was when things got so bad that I was forced to stop and think about my relationship with myself that I realised, getting in touch with how I felt, what felt good, what felt bad, what made me feel weak what made me feel strong. That’s when I realised that a lot of what I wanted and didn’t want had to do with people. I wanted to be included by people; I wanted to be heard by people and to feel seen by people. I wanted people to understand the depths of my despair. I wanted them to understand just how deeply it ran.
That’s when I realised connection was the key to overcoming my depression because that’s when I finally realised what I really wanted.
At first confronting these facts made me feel stupid and weak for wanting these things, in society there is so much focus on the idea that independence equals strength.
Yes, there is an 'I' in happiness, but no one can be happy on their own. People think the opposite of depression is happiness. I’ve come to believe the opposite of feeling depressed is feeling connected.
With depression, there’s a constant pull to give up – on life and myself. I’d been coming at it from the wrong angle. Disconnection from others taught me that everything I think and feel about myself is true. Connection has taught me that there are other ways to see myself and my life and by nurturing the right relationships, my perception of myself and my life can be transformed.
Right now, I feel empowered by the people who I have around me; they don’t let my depression define me. I know that depression and feelings of hopelessness do not define me, more importantly, they don’t stop me from living life.