Heart and Mind, Mental Health

The Dragon

A man I once knew called depression the Dragon. We were talking about suicide rates and the challenges people experience when fighting depression. Thinking about it, depression really is a massive fire-breathing dragon. You stare up at this great, hulking beast that’s threatening to consume you, and it’s so overwhelming. How can a simple human stand against this?

Just like in the stories, fighting the Dragon is easier with others by your side, yet I often feel that, surely, no one would willingly join me to fight it. Or I don’t want to drag them down in a fight that feels like it should be mine alone. Or I fear they’ll tell me the Dragon is all in my head, that I just need to think more positively about the Dragon. These thoughts leave me feeling smaller, and the beast so much larger.

It’s hard to do anything else when fighting the Dragon. Things I once enjoyed start to taste like ashes. Things I’m usually on top of start to slip out of my grasp. It becomes a daily battle just to handle the necessities, and the measure of a “good” day becomes defined by my ability to, despite all odds, handle the non-negotiable parts of life: work, homework, paying bills. All the joyful things fall away as I go into triage mode, and facing the beast each day means my meager remaining energies must be spent on not letting those required aspects of life fall apart.

There’s often no one reason why the Dragon attacks. Weeks of life stress and general anxiety might weaken my defenses, as they sometimes do, and the beast finds an opening. When asked what’s wrong or why I feel depressed, I could give a different reason by the hour. Nothing is consistent beyond, “I am not okay.”

Today is better. The Dragon is retreating to its cave. Tomorrow will be even better than today. Flavor is returning to those once enjoyable things as the beast falls back to sleep. As I rebuild my defenses, I find more energy for non-essential activities. Once more, I find the words are there when I sit down to write.

The Dragon will return. While it returns less often than it once did, I know it’s not yet gone for good. I’ll fight it again, however many times are necessary. And each battle I win leaves me better armed and armored to face this beast.

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