Depression is hard to understand, because it is not a consistent state. Depression is rather like a virus, but like a virus, it has its manageable days and its acute, life-threatening flare-ups. You can be in a depression and still laugh at a friend’s joke or have a good night at dinner or manage low-level functioning. You grocery shop and stop to pet a puppy on the corner, talk to friends in a café, maybe write something you don’t hate. When this happens, you might examine your day for clues like reading tea leaves in a cup: Was it the egg for breakfast that made the difference? The three-mile run? You think, well, maybe this thing has moved on now. And you make no sudden moves for fear of attracting its abusive attention again.
But other times…
Other times, it’s as if a hole is opening inside you, wider and wider, pressing against your lungs, pushing your internal organs into unnatural places, and you cannot draw a true breath. You are breaking inside, slowly, and everything that keeps you tethered to your life, all of your normal responses, is being sucked through the hole like an airlock emptying into space. These are the times Holly Golightly called the Mean Reds.
I call it White Knuckling it.
When you find yourself drowning in self-hate, you have to remind yourself that you weren’t born feeling this way. That at some point in your journey, some person or experience sent you the message that there was something wrong with who you are, and you internalized those messages and took them on as your truth. But that hate isn’t yours to carry, and those judgments aren’t about you. And in the same way that you learned to think badly of yourself, you can learn to think new, self-loving and accepting thoughts. You can learn to challenge those beliefs, take away their power, and reclaim your own. It won’t be easy, and it won’t happen over night. But it is possible. And it starts when you decide that there has to be more to life than this pain you feel. It starts when you decide that you deserve to discover it.
The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality, and it was vitality that seemed to seep away from me in that moment. Everything there was to do seemed like too much work. I would come home and I would see the red light flashing on my answering machine, and instead of being thrilled to hear from my friends, I would think, “What a lot of people that is to have to call back.” Or I would decide I should have lunch, and then I would think, but I’d have to get the food out and put it on a plate and cut it up and chew it and swallow it, and it felt to me like the Stations of the Cross.
And one of the things that often gets lost in discussions of depression is that you know it’s ridiculous. You know it’s ridiculous while you’re experiencing it. You know that most people manage to listen to their messages and eat lunch and organize themselves to take a shower and go out the front door and that it’s not a big deal, and yet you are nonetheless in its grip and you are unable to figure out any way around it.
Yeah, that’s it. That’s the reason why I don’t eat when I’m depressed, right down to the Stations of the Cross comparison, damn. This whole thing is just perfectly phrased, and that ridiculousness you recognize just makes it harder to fight past it.(via nudityandnerdery)
Although we have learned much about depression — for example, the recent research showing that the successful treatment of insomnia in depressed patients essentially doubles their response to a drug like Prozac — we still don’t understand its fundamental cause. The old idea that the disease results from a deficiency of a single neurotransmitter like serotonin or dopamine is clearly simplistic and wrong.
Trying to get myself ready to go to the DMV. Wish me luck that my anxiety doesn’t stop me along the way. (Like, before I get out the front door, especially.)
Now, if I can just find the forms… And my checkbook… And…..
Depression messes you up. On a cellular level.
You have heard me go on at length about how you need to baby your whole body during depression…
It turns out there is a reason why it’s more than just Feeling Sad. A landmark study from the University of Michigan has shown that the body clock of a depressed person is, well, completely ratfucked. And this might explain why you want to eat icing out of a can, why getting out of bed is such an exhausting prospect, why you’re up with the hamsters all night…
…and why it’s just more than Choosing To Be Happy.
Depression fucks with you on an absolutely cellular level.
Just look at this diagram.
So, forgive me, Happy Folks, but teasing that bit of yarn apart is going to take some time and some serious recovery tactics.
Stay strong, my fellow fruitbats.
I just listened to J. Michael Straczynski talking about Michael O’Hare, and his battle with mental illness during and after Babylon 5. It moved me to tears.
It reminds me that my own struggle is not imaginary. It’s not something I can just “snap out of”. It is not a sign of weakness of character. Depression is a real, physical illness. So, I’ll get up again tomorrow, take my meds, and keep on fighting.
Having a bad brain day.
Feel like I have forgotten how to life.
Lifing! How does it work?
This is not the first time I’ve noticed my depression get worse around this time of year, late Mach/early April.
It may be related only tenuously, but there is this: I’m 44 now, so 42 years ago, my father, who doted on me, was lying in a V.A. hospital in northern Arizona, slowly wasting away from cancer. My mom would drive over a mountain (literally) each day to visit him.
I guess my sister and grandmother took care of me, but I was young enough that I have no memory of it.
I have no memory of him. Not directly.
I just have stories, and memories of old photographs and Super 8 movies. I grew up idolizing a man I couldn’t remember,because I was repeatedly told how much he loved me. That is good. It gave me something to hold on to when my mother’s volatile alcoholism confused and frightened me.
I am grateful to Fate that my son has had the chance to have a father for 7 more years (and counting!) than I did.
And when my depression is bad, the thing that holds me grounded to this world is being here for him, in a way that I did not get to have someone be there for me.
The darkness is stealing my heart, and the bravest thing I do today may be just going to the grocery store. If I even do.
Scylla and Charybdis
When I deprive myself of sleep, my depression lessens and my anxiety abates.
When I get caught up on sleep, my depression surges. When I get a surplus of sleep, anxiety takes over.
Which is the rock and which is the hard place? Which is Charybdis and which is Scylla?
Yesterday, I slept all morning, met Stevie for lunch, then came home, and after a couple of hours, headed to bed early. So, of course, I was up for a few hours in the middle of the night, but then I slept again.
And then woke up to a lovely anxiety attack. It passed relatively quickly, but has come back at a lower level. I walk around feeling like I could jump out of my skin. Sitting here writing this is soothing, but as soon as I’m done, I’ll have to be with myself again, in my own skin, feeling on edge, ready to lash at at any threat, and anything could be a threat. Or everything is.
The past three days had been bad. My depression is hitting me harder than it has in a while, and my emotional and physical resources for dealing with it are at a low. I’ll get a little bit of a break later today: my son is going to spend the night with his cousins. I may just go to bed early and try to catch up on rest. Or maybe I’ll try to get something done, so I feel like I’m getting myself unburied from under all the stuff I’ve let pile up.
But I don’t even feel like putting words together right now, and since that is often something that helps me mentally process my way out of the downward spiral, that should tell you that things in my head are bad. Sometimes, just acknowledging it here helps. I’m hoping it does this time.