My friend Bethany would ask: “Uh.. funny, ‘Ha, ha’? or funny, strange?”
Well, both. At times. Or neither. You know, just to be clear.
Since Christmas, I have had a slow fade back into depression. This is something I have struggled with, off and on, since my teens, so, if you know how old I am, that’s a very long time.
And, well, I woke up yesterday to that once again sinking feeling of dread that seems to wrap itself around my brain in a vice grip of fuzzy thinking and gloom. I just laid there, staring up at the ceiling fan.
“Please, Lord. I can’t do another day like this. I’m tired of trying to feel better.”
Later that day, after I had gone through all my usual list of go-tos for depression squelching:
Praying – but not too much because I get all super focused on meeeee, so:
Praying for others
Chocolate for breakfast
Good Housekeeping. Netflix. Couch. Rinse. Repeat.
Lipstick. Bright red. Goes well with my eyes.
Hot tea, like every flavor, about forty cups, until I was sloshing
I just sloshed over to my computer and knew I needed to post, but darn, it was hard to be funny. It’s really hard to be funny when you’re doomed forever, did you know that?
But then I thought, “Well, you could write about it.”
Ok. So here’s the deal. I am going to write about depression. Yea! And it won’t be hilarious, but at least it will be truth. And, here’s the other part: I am writing about this topic NOT because I am hoping it will make me feel better.
That’s the deal with depression. You have to stop wanting to “fix” it with one easy step. So, posting this is not going to solve it. Just like drinking a small bath tub of soothing camomile tea and listening to Praise Baby Pandora (don’t judge, I like it), and eating chocolate muffin in a mug for breakfast won’t fix it.
Depression doesn’t just kick off one day and say, “Oh hey! My bad! I know I have totally worn out my welcome, or wasn’t really welcomed at all, so I’ll be off. Thanks for the hospitality. I’m going to move in with the neighbor lady down the street for a few months and see what dread I can inflict on her there.”
Nope. Depression doesn’t follow basic rules of civility. It doesn’t play well with others. It has no set goals or mission statements or any sort of POINT, a lot of times. It couldn’t tell you at all how it sees itself a year from now. It doesn’t really care.
You can try to figure it out – is it hormones? Or bad memories? Or that I can’t drink anymore? Or that I am slowly going crazy?
No. And yes. And maybe all of these, combined, in different amounts. But sometimes. Sort of.
So, you see?
Depression is such a pain in the ass.
(I am SORRY. I know. I rarely use the potty words here. But this time? IT IS SO MERITED.)
Here’s what I DO know about depression (for me):
1. It makes me immobile.
2. It makes me want to cry a lot, which is kind of weird, like when you’re at Scott’s and they are out of your favorite hazelnut creamer and you tear up like one of those sad soap opera women but with less makeup.
3. It makes me feel like having very basic conversations like this: “Hi! How are you? Isn’t it a pretty day?” is about as impossible as if you were in one of those bad dreams where you had to speak Swahili, while naked, in front of an audience of angry people.
4. It is really good at convincing you that you will never, ever feel better.
Here’s what I don’t know about depression:
3. What the what?
I have tried. I have read books, gone to counselors, researched, asked questions, got my hormones read, got my palm read (not really but I considered it), and basically busted my hiney trying to lick this thing.
And here is what I have deduced, after all these years:
Sometimes it’s hormonal. It helps me a lot to keep track of my monthly, you know, visits from Auntie Flo (so trying to be delicate here, right? Because calling it Aunt Flo is sooooo cute too). I put a cute little Satan emoji on my google calendar whenever that fabulousness hits my uterus.
Sometimes it’s attached to bad stuff. When my brother died, I kinda walked into a pit of despair for some months. Of course. Eventually, I escaped. And for that I am sure Chris would be happy.
Sometimes it is attached to my recovery. If I haven’t been to a meeting in ages, or I am triggered, or I see one of those beer commercials on tv during a Chiefs game and then, “Lookit! All THOSE people are drinking a lot and they are all so HAPPY! And cutely DRESSED. And they keep high-fiving each other! I wanna wear sparkly tops and high-five people in a bar too!”
And sometimes? I have no idea. I have no freaking clue. It’s like the weather in Kansas. We can try to predict, but sometimes? Our weather just be nutball, ya’ll.
No, I am not saying I am nutball. (The lawyer just rolled his eyes.)
For those of you who are going to worry:
Yes, I have counseling in place and yes doctors and yes even a serotonin med, and yes, my sweet Lord has helped me with this all my life – He’s not going to stop. And neither am I.
I’m not going to stop trying to feel better. But on the days when I feel like crap, I at least pray:
Dear Jesus. Lord with me. If I have to feel lousy today, fine. I will put my tools in place. I’ll do the next best thing. But I am so glad, even in my sadness, that You are here to be sad with me. You get sadness, I know.”
And, the funny thing is? Depression has taught me more about happiness and contentment than I ever thought possible.
My mom frequently has strikes of depressions, i know how unpredictable depression really is. And try as much as i could, there is no real cure for it. Though i do not let my mom know that.
Nice post and my condolences about your brother.
Thank you! I am sorry about your mom – it is a tough thing and it certainly does “strike.”
Depression is not easy! If it helps… more people than you realize suffer from it. I think it may, in some cases, be hereditary. I think mine is. When I am feeling down, I like to spend time in my sunny living room. I like to sew bright fabrics.
I hope it leaves you very soon! Do you sit under a bright light in the mornings? I think that helps me. I sip my coffee, read the papers and do the crosswords under the light.
Yes! Sunshine! and i also learned to keep my hands busy (instead of my mind…) so I knit a lot more lately, w/ pretty pastels soft yarn. 🙂
Momsie, I hear you. And I’m really sorry you have this in your life.
I have battled with depression all my life and I agree – sometimes it just comes without a recognizable reason. I’ve learned to treat it as a pet, maybe a cat. You know, the one you suspect is secretly plotting to kill you. 😉 A cat, it comes and goes when it pleases, it sleeps on your pillow and regards you with a look of general disapproval.
So I say, oh, it’s just a cat, it’s not me. And I choose to not to focus on it. Just go on, praising God and thanking him for all the hard and beautiful things, for pain and joy, for suffering and the connections I’ve made with other people because of this suffering.
You are doing great – all the right things.
P.S. one thing I wanted to mention that helped me tremendously – Neil Anderson books.
oh my word this is awesome. I might have to message you and talk about this more. I so think i could really go w/ this… BRILLIANT!
And thank you for the Neil Anderson recommendation!!! you are a blessing.
I’d love to talk to you! 🙂 Here’s my email firstname.lastname@example.org
This is a lovely, “raw” piece, Dana. Thank you for sharing. God continues to watch you, I know (as you do). So happy you are a writer so you can create that cathartis we all so desperately need.
Goodness. That would be “catharsis”!
Cathartis works too… 😛 Thanks, syd. You are a sweetie.
” It is really good at convincing you that you will never, ever feel better. ” The WORST!!! It matters not one iota that you have good days/months/years under your belt from which you “should” be able to draw strength.
Yep. Evil stuff, depression. I feel like Dory… keep on swimming. Hugs, friend.
I agree. And I am very grateful, at least, for my journal. It gives me written proof when I can’t remember! 🙂
Thinking of you. I can’t give you any more advice except try to be gentle with yourself. My last bout of depression forced me to open my eyes and admit that yes, I was depressed, and had been for a long time. It had become so normal. Now that I am out of it I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.
I LIKE that article – that is a perfect explanation, and I like the use of example. Let’s use it – it’s better than mine.
Oops! wrong comment to wrong article! and can’t figure out how to delete. 😛
Thank you so much. I am super gentle w/ myself when it sneaks up on me again. Have learned that balance b/t being super gentle and also getting on w/ life – or have tried to. It’s a tough balance. Thank you so much for reading.