Depression 101

Sorry for the delay, I have been and am a little depressed. Depression takes hold like quicksand. It feels like being tied down by invisible straps. You can kick and scream, but the straps keep you paralyzed. And, when you have had depression as many times as I have, you no longer kick or scream because you now know that this has to pass through you, just like the anxiety or the anger, the sadness. So, I have been paralyzed. Again, the longer you combat depression, the better you get at living with it.

But, being a seasoned depression-fighter does not change the depression, I am changed. The depression is still: sadness, loneliness, helplessness, fear, doubt, self-loathing, hopelessness, dread, guilt, negativity, exhaustion, pain, and deep apathy.  I still feel all those feelings, but I know them each very well. I have also been taught that feelings are not things. I am not literally walking around with a ball of fear, though it does feel that way. I am feeling fear, while also walking around because I am alive. For me, that is a great definition of depression-being alive when you want to be dead.

In the winter of 2008, I was fighting depression with all I had. And, I was losing. The crying would not stop. The thoughts of ending it all were becoming more and more enticing and more and more plausible. My family would never want me to feel the way I did. They knew how much I was struggling. My husband at the time would move on, we had no children. I was home from work-one of the MANY days I could not make it in, which I knew was wrong and felt incredible guilt and humiliation about, so very much. Home alone, I pulled every pill bottle I had in the house out and set them all on the coffee table. I was in therapy. I was being seen by multiple psychiatrists and physicians. I had a lot of pills. A lot. And, I knew if I took these pills, I would be free. Free from what was coming next. Free from what wasn’t coming next. Free from worrying. Free from crying. Free from exhaustion. But, before I could open the first bottle, my dog walked into the room. My dog was most often in his bed when I would be home from work, sad and/or anxious. And, my dog walking out bolted me into the reality that leaving him would be more selfish than leaving my family and friends. I could not do that to my dog, who I chose to have and love and care for forever. And I thought, for longer than I would like to admit, maybe I should just take him with me. To say it was a low point is an understatement. But, then I was introduced to a woman in a mental health facility who’d put herself in similar situation. We bonded even before we knew each others’ stories. And, while our stories were different in almost every way, our answer to the problem was the same, only she had children. It may sound drastic and incomprehensible, but so is the thought of living a life of constant pain, sadness, and depression.

I am not anywhere near the depression of ’08, but I wanted to write about it to remind me (and any others who may stumble upon this) that depression is extremely hard to climb out of unscathed, but it is NOT impossible. It takes some serious inside work reminding yourself why you are still here and why you are strong enough to have gotten here. Even when “here” is no where near where you want to be. Here is something. Do as much with being here as you possibly can muster, even if it is just sleeping. Stay here. Fight back. Remind yourself that you are needed, even if it’s just by a dog. Stay here.

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