I have two chronic diseases/illnesses. They’re largely invisible. And for the most part they stay in hibernation.
One, Asthma, is easier to see when it gets cranky. There’s the wheezing noise. The coughing. The accouterments: inhaler(s), personal home nebulizer, extra pillows. People understand. They believe the invisible friend of asthma is real.
The other, Depression, is harder to see. And people are less likely to believe it exists.
They’re the imaginary friends I never wanted.
I had imaginary friends as a child. 5 of them. Eventually they didn’t hang out with me anymore, but I remember them. They were important. They were real to me. My mother, bless her, never argued about their existence. She accepted them. There was Eric, who wore a brown leisure suit with a cream ribbed turtleneck (it was the 70s!). Eric was my scapegoat. Momma yelled at me, I yelled at Eric. He was always being naughty. There was Big Dave, the gorilla, who protected the house and us. There was a little girl in a pretty party dress, who’s name I can’t remember. And one minor player that I can’t remember other than they existed for me.
And there was Alligator. Alligator was my everything. My best friend. He went everywhere with me. I could never describe him to others, but it didn’t matter. Alligator was Alligator.
No one could see him, but he was very much real. To the point my dad had to stop driving once and open the door to let Alligator in the car. I was inconsolable until he did that. After that I was perfectly happy.
Depression is a lot like Alligator. Except that Depression is an unwanted invisible friend that showed up for the first time in high school. And then again in college. And then never left. Now Depression goes everywhere with me. Sometimes Depression makes me inconsolable. Depression is hard to describe to others, he’s unique to me.
But it impacts everything. Depression shows up without warning. And Depression has come for an extended visit lately. Depression is always hungry when he visits. He eats my energy, my motivation. I’m trying to live with him again, but I’m not doing so well. I’m worried about work, about people there understanding because Depression is invisible and hard to describe. He’s ever present, generally content to just exist as an imaginary friend, subdued by medication and various tools and tricks, but right now he is demanding attention like whoa. It’s hard to function when Depression is demanding. It would be nice if like my childhood friends Depression would just fade away into a memory.
Alternately, I wish Alligator could come back and eat my unwanted invisible friend Depression.