I frustratedly related to my friend how one of my school books had belittled the struggle of depression. In Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies by Marilyn Chandler McEntyre, she states that part of the culture of lies comes from using war language to describe healing. Her example is “We battle depression.”
“Depression is a battle!” I exclaimed. “That is not an exaggeration.”
“Maybe it is more like a war,” He countered. “A battle is fought and then won by a side. Wars continue on.”
I understood his point but did not totally agree with that conclusion. “Depression can be defeated. That battle can be won.”
“Can it really?” His quiet question made me really stop to think. “Is it something that just continues to be a war within you?”
Some people will suffer from this mental illness their whole lives. That is the saddening truth. However, that does not mean we should give up hope. The battle or war that is depression can become easier to manage with coping skills, support people, and meaningful activities.
The metaphors of battle and war both can work for my depression. Do I ever conquer it all at once in a single battle? No. In that sense, my illness is like a war that contains wins on both sides and disheartening losses.
On the other side, a battle invokes the image of constant action whereas a war can be dormant at times. This is how my depression feels many days. I am not given a break from the fighting. Yes, I consult others (therapists, family, and friends) as well as retreat when needed. In some areas, the violence and terror are less intense. However, the danger and anxiety remain nearly all of the time.
For the most part, people allude to their depression being a battle or a war meaning the same essential thing; fighting depression is a long, difficult process. One does not return unscathed, but hope of victory remains. That is what we are all clinging to even in the dirtiest trench.