There’s this moment in detox, when you’re right at the bottom. When your physical pain is greater than you’ve ever experienced and the sense of hopelessness is so vast that you can’t imagine living another moment in it. Where you lay on the bathroom floor, after trying to break the bathroom mirror, only to discover it’s not glass, And you beg your roommate to just kill you, just to end it. But they don’t. Instead they carry you to your bed, they surround you with people who are just physically there, that you can see. And slowly your amazing body begins to heal itself, and with that physical healing comes some mental healing and the desperation slowly slips away. And the world REJOICES. And the world supports you, and the world is there to help take care of you and acknowledge the journey you’ve been through. And that’s exactly how it should be. Because we talk about addiction, we acknowledge addiction and we band together to fight addiction.
It’s not the same with depression. We don’t talk about it. We don’t celebrate the recovery the way we should. Those of you who have struggled with addiction can identify with the situation above, those of you who suffer from depression and anxiety understand the feelings above too. Those of us who have had to do both, or are slogging our way through both, congrats, we get a double dose.
I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression for a long time, but the last 4 months have been the worst I’ve ever been. But they’re getting better. I know this because this morning- I got out of bed. I didn’t have a 20 minute negotiation with myself about why staying there in my safe warm bed was a better choice than facing the world. I didn’t set the series of 15 daily alarms that remind me when I HAVE to do something- like eat, or get Em ready. My life is dictated by these alarms. Today I just got out and my first thought was about what I MIGHT do today. This is huge. And tomorrow,
I may be back to alarms and negotiations (honestly I’m batting .50) but today, today is hope.
During treatment for depression, every doctor’s visit consists of a series of questions, the big scary one being “are you having suicidal thoughts?”. I’ve always been able to answer No. But I get it. My depression has only spent moments in the deep dark void of hopelessness and pain. My friends and family keep me from spending too much time down there because they’re always showing up and lifting me out. But it’s dark and scary down there. I know that anyone who is stuck down there and can’t get out- I know why they kill themselves.
Depression and anxiety are very personal, much like detox. No two experiences are the same. I’m going to go ahead and tell you about my depression because today I can. Today it doesn’t feel shameful. It’s doesn’t feel scary. Today this space feels safe. Today you all feel safe.
My depression is physically painful. We’ve all seen those commercials that claim “depression hurts”. (Or perhaps PVR has prevented you seeing them). It’s true. It hurts. My depression is aches and pains. It feels like my body takes commands from my mind. On days where the negotiations are long, but I end up out of bed, my body does everything in its power to let me know that was a bad decision. I ache,
I fall when my legs give out from pain, and I move in slow motion.
My depression is angry. Now piled on top of my depression is loss. The last 6 weeks have consisted of 3 deaths (two quite unexpected), a brain aneurysm and a broken foot. I don’t even bother with the denial stage of grief. I just dig my feet in at Anger. And I know that it’s a part of grieving. But my depression gives that anger power.
It lets that anger consume me.
My depression is typical. Those who don’t know me well, will likely read this with a little shock. My depression is sneaky. It knows that it’s not socially acceptable. So when I leave this house, my depression flutters away for a moment. Really it just burrows its way deeper. But I look normal, I talk normally, I interact mostly normally. But then I go home and get punished by my depression. It’s why it’s easier to stay home. Also why it’s so important that I don’t. Depression is a liar.
My depression is mine. It has nothing to do with you. The worst thing you can do is give it power. I don’t need to talk about it all the time (I have a counsellor for that). I don’t need to be treated with caution. In fact it’s opposite. I NEED to hear about your world and your problems. I need to be able to support you in your struggles. Thank you friends for sharing your problems regardless of whether mine are “bigger” or “harder”. I’ve blogged about it before, but HARD is NOT relative. HARD is HARD. My hard, your hard. All hard.
My depression is real and it is fake. Those of you who have depression get this statement. Those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, I’ll try to explain it to you. Likely poorly- but I’ll try. Okay. I lied. I have no idea how to explain it.
My depression is medicated. Thank fucking God. The pills don’t make me feel better- if they did then I wouldn’t be getting better, the pills would be doing the work. That’s no good. I need to do the work. What the pills do is repair the stress receptors that I’ve burned away by refusing to take time when I needed it before. When I’ve “been strong and carried on”. When I’ve denied myself the time I needed and deserved. Eventually I won’t need the pills. Now I do.
My depression deserves time. When I first took time off work, I was struggling with depression and my reproductive system was in full revolt. When people asked, it was easy to just say it was the health issues. But then I needed more time and more time, more than any uterus would need. And then I had to admit that it wasn’t the health issues anymore. And it DID feel shameful. It felt like weakness. BUT you people- you people consistently congratulated me on taking time off, on trying to take care of myself. You celebrated my recovery.
The world is changing in regards to mental health. It’s still got a long way to go. But it’s come a long way too.
And those of you who are struggling with it- fight on friends. The world needs you.