The Void

Have you ever been at a point in your life where something felt like it was missing? From the outside, everything looks and seems perfect but you just know it’s not. It doesn’t mean that you don’t appreciate everything you have but to be completely honest, there is a hole, a void that needs to be filled.

I know that I’m lucky. I have everything I could possible ask for and want. I have it easy on a lot of fronts. But there’s always been a part of me that needs more. It’s hard to say which area of my life needs to be filled.

This is something that we don’t talk about much. How many times have we gotten into a discussion with other people about feeling like something was missing? How many times have we talked about this feeling that something needs to change? We don’t. I know that when I have some adult time, I usually talk about the physical things happening in my life. It’s hard to express this void when everything I do have to say is already good. Maybe we talk about problems or issues we have with some part but again, it’s usually something that physically exists. This void is hard to explain. It’s hard to express in a way that others can understand. I hope I’m doing it some justice trying to explain it here.

In Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert says that “Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it. If you don’t, you will leak away your innate contentment.”

I have felt that happiness and inner contentment. And somewhere, somehow, it leaked. I can’t be the only one in the world searching for something. I can’t be the only one who has this need to fill this void. It took me a while to realize that I was trying to fill it with things that would never satisfy it. It’s like I have to come to terms with myself and where my life is now and find joy in that. I can also actively work to add substance to my life to help. But the void can’t be filled with superficial distractions. It won’t work.

It’s hard to keep up this effort. But my only choices are either to keep doing it to find the contentment I seek or to give up. I refuse to give up.

The Battle With Depression

So this is something I’ve been dealing with most of my life. I don’t know if it’s a chemical thing or a personality thing or what. When I read Eat, Pray, Love, and Elizabeth Gilbert mentions that her therapist said that she would battling depression on and off for most of her life because she has a tendency towards it, I was like “Yes, that’s literally what I felt like I’ve been doing”.

The American Psychiatric Association provides the following definition for depression:

Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.

The funny thing for me is that there usually isn’t a huge cause for it. I’ll be wandering around just doing what I need to be doing and suddenly, I will realize that I’m just not feeling like myself anymore. It’s not like some big event always causes it (although that has happened as well). It almost feels like a bunch of little things that stack on top of each other and when I look up, I’m under the weight of all of that stack. I end up feeling like no one gets it. I end up resenting people for not understanding how I feel. I end up feeling like I’m a hole that I will never get out of.

I remember feeling that way when I was younger but I didn’t realize what it was. I’m really good at continuing to put one foot in front of the other so I would just keep doing whatever I was supposed to be doing (school, work, etc.). I think when I finally visited a therapist for when I had it really bad is when I learned to recognize it for what it was.

It comes and goes. I’m in the middle of trying to pull myself out of it right now. The best thing about recognizing it and beating it is that once you do it one time, you know you can do it again. It is tiring. It is overwhelming. But it is possible. I’ll continue to put one foot in front of the other and find love and happiness where I can. I’ll find help where I can because I know that it’s not possible to do this entirely by myself either.

The American Psychiatric Association also says that:

Depression affects an estimated one in 15 adults (6.7%) in any given year. And one in six people (16.6%) will experience depression at some time in their life. Depression can strike at any time, but on average, first appears during the late teens to mid-20s. Women are more likely than men to experience depression. Some studies show that one-third of women will experience a major depressive episode in their lifetime.

So if that’s you, please know you aren’t alone. There are a lot of us out there and we work hard at finding contentment and happiness. It’s not an easy battle but it’s one that is worth it. So get help, talk about it, do whatever you need to do to fight it. Because I promise that not being depressed really does feel good.