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May 2020, Luzern, Switzerland

“Marion, how did love find you during a time of severe depression?”

»I’ve had depression almost my entire life. As an 18-year-old the pain got unbearable. ›I don’t want to live anymore‹, I said to my mum. I can only imagine how hard this must have been for her. We immediately went to see a doctor, there was one meter of snow on the ground … I remember it clearly.«
After this day Marion stayed in a psychiatric hospital for almost 5 months. Today she’s 30 years old and finally feeling better after a long medical history.

We are walking towards the forest near her house. »The film about mental health you recommended on social media today … I took the time to watch it«, she says. »I recognized myself.«
It’s a coincidence that just this morning I watched a documentary about various mental illnesses and about how these are treated. One particular statement stuck with me: ›Actually, I have everything to be happy. But still, I’m not‹, a woman said who suffers from the boreout syndrome. She sold her company and now, being around 50 years old, she doesn’t know anymore what to do with her life. Missing purpose.

»It already started at the age of 4«, Marion says. »Maybe the birth of my youngest sister had an impact, maybe I was jealous. Of course, I didn’t know what happens to me back then but I cried a lot. Even as a child I didn’t feel light and free … I cannot remember a moment in my childhood I felt really happy. At 5th grade a classmate asked me why I always have to go somewhere after school. I made various therapies between 2nd and 8th grade. So I told her that I don’t feel well. ›I don’t want to deal with people who aren’t feeling well‹, she said to me. That hit me hard.«

Marion explains to me how the depression made her feel. »The medications made me feel empty but without them there was this heavy emotional pain. Do you know the feeling when a person you were close with dies? It feels like that and you don’t know why it’s there. Therefore, at the age of 25 I additionally started to have borderline symptoms.«
»You mean that your feelings changed very quickly?«, I ask.
»No, not for me. It means that I hurt myself to redirect my pain. I preferred physical pain over emotional pain.«
»Did your friends know that you suffer from depression?«
»No, they didn’t. My family knew and supported me. ›Why didn’t you say anything?‹, some people asked me after I finally opened up. But I didn’t have an answer.«

We are back from our walk and right now, we are standing in the big garden next to her house. Miro, an Australian Shepherd, plays next to our feet asking for attention. He’s like an energetic ball of wool.
Marion tells me that after her first stay in a psychiatric hospital as an 18-year-old she had a second one 7 years later. »At the beginning of these 3 months a colleague wrote me a message: ›Is it possible to see you?‹ Reading this made me a bit confused. We barely knew each other. Finally, he came to see me every week. We got closer. Sometimes I would shut myself off. But he noticed quite quickly when he could take me into his arms and when it wasn’t a good idea. He’s very patient. ›Why would he want somebody like me who is crying so much?‹, I thought.«

Within the next 2 years after her second stay she had a third one and a forth one, 3 months duration each. At this point, Marion gave her illness a name … she called it her demon. That was 3 years ago, and since then, her life has improved a lot. The man who came to see her every week is her boyfriend now. They moved in together in this house.
»At the beginning it was hard because there were no animals. I grew up in the countryside.«
So she got dwarf rabbits and guinea pigs. They are beyond cute. After that, a puppy joined, and he must have been as excited as he is today I guess.

»Oh wow, look at the sky«, I suddenly notice. »Let’s make a photo of you and Miro.«
»If you make some noises he will even look at the camera«, Marion says.
Her dog gives her day structure. And he spreads pure joy of life. All of this seems like a happy end in a movie to me.

»How is your demon nowadays?«, I ask towards the end.
»He’s still there but today he’s small. Sometimes he knocks on my door but I don’t let him in anymore.«