I’m currently in a depressive episode. I’m on all kinds of medication and doing therapy, and while I do well for a while, it always seems to circle back on me, and I find myself once again in darkness. I’ve been here for about a week now.
If you’ve never had depression, I just don’t know that you could understand. It’s not just sadness. It’s a mind-numbing heaviness that makes me feel like I can’t catch my breath. Sometimes my body hurts. Sometimes I find myself really distracted and I have a really hard time focusing. Sometimes I feel ultra paranoid and think that everyone hates me. Sometimes I find myself crying multiple times a day, but for no good reason. Most of the time I have absolutely zero motivation to do anything. Things that I would usually enjoy or look forward to, I don’t anymore. Sometimes I feel everything and am super sensitive. And sometimes I feel absolutely nothing and am numb. Most of the time, I have no appetite and struggle to eat. Sometimes I want to hurt myself. Sometimes I do. Most of the time it feels hopeless, like my world is never going to be okay, and I will always feel this bad. And when a lot of those things happen together, that’s when I think about killing myself. If you’ve ever been extremely physically sick, to the point that you thought you were dying (and maybe wished it as a passing thought), this is just a mental version of that – except that no one can see how sick you are, and there’s such a stigma when you do speak out about it.
The thing is, eventually it does get better, and I almost forget how bad I felt, to the point I can turn and judge myself for not getting over it faster, or for not doing more to help myself. Until it comes back. And then I remember all over again how very bad it is, and the cycle continues. It’s really exhausting. So in between the down times, I’ve been trying to remind myself to accept my depression when it comes along and work with it, not against it. And of course each time it comes back, I scream and flail against it trying to get it to let go of me.
But not this time. Well Okay, maybe just a little screaming at first. But eventually I was able to get quiet and just sit with it, acknowledging that yep, I’m depressed. Again. But, even though it feels like I don’t have a choice in how I react, I realize I actually do. And so, everyday, sometimes every moment, I’m telling myself to just do the next thing, however small it may be. And then I congratulate myself for doing it and thank God for helping me. I’m avoiding things that I know make me feel bad even on good days, (like the news and excessive facebook use), and I’m being intentional about choosing things that usually make me feel good to do instead like read positive books/quotes, write, be outside, pray, meditate, listen to calming music, write some more, pet my dogs and cats, take a brisk walk, yoga. Breaking down chores and tasks too has helped me to not feel so overwhelmed, and I can take more pride in what I accomplish because in breaking down the task, I realize how many tiny things I do that I usually take for granted.
I’m still depressed. It’s there. All of those positive things I’m doing, hasn’t taken the depression away. So why work so hard if I could lay in bed, or scroll around on facebook, or just sit in my dark thoughts, or do whatever else it is I do to try and numb out the pain, and feel pretty much the same? Because I know I would feel worse if I did. Either way, I have the depression, but I feel better about myself, and it’s helping me not to spiral deeper by making the hard decision to push on and make positive choices. I can say that I’m actually really proud of myself for all that I’ve accomplished this week, despite feeling so low. There have been times that I feel like I’m pouring my whole energy into just getting out of bed, or making myself take a walk, or spend time in prayer. It would be so much easier to just veg out with Facebook, or lay in bed. But, I have not regretted any of the positive choices I’ve made this week, even when I completely dreaded them and thought that I couldn’t do them. No regrets. I can’t say that about facebook or laying around in bed, though. So my path is set before me, and I will continue to do the best I can, telling myself that this too shall pass, and the sun will eventually come back out.
I don’t know if this will be able to help or encourage anyone else, but I’m planning on rereading this the next time the depression beastie comes around, because the struggle is real. And I always need all of the help that I can get. And I’m learning to give myself lots and lots of grace as I ride out these storms over and over, so come what may next time, I will be gentle with myself. Please be gentle with yourself too, lovely reader, wherever you find yourself this night.