Depression is something I’ve struggled with for over a decade. Except for a very long time I didn’t know what depression was, and when I did I denied that I struggled with it. When I still identified as Christian, depression isn’t typically an issue you are allowed to have. In fundamental movements depression is a sign of a lack of relationship with God. Just pray about it, and mental illness magically disappears!
Except it didn’t.
And by god, I’m going to start fucking talking about it.
As I posted a few days ago, this past week hasn’t been a good week for me. Depression is a vicious cycle of depression. I get depressed that I’m depressed until I get so deep I don’t think I can ever get out.
Once I moved past the suicidal thoughts and the panic attack that ensued from the suicidal thoughts I was drained of every ounce of energy my body could possibly possess.
My house went to shit.
My dishes went undone.
And even though I live alone it looks like an army of small toddlers barreled through. Since I spent the majority of two days in bed, I really have no idea how this happens.
When depression is choking the life out of me I start to panic that I’ll never get out of it. I fear that I’ll become a hoarder and that someone someday will find me shuffling around a small pathway I made from the kitchen to the bathroom to my bed.
I’m afraid I’ll get grotesquely fat and I’ll have to be lifted out through a hole in my roof by an industrial sized crane.
These are my legitimate fears. But the wonderful thing is, I have friends that truly care about me. I know that I matter to them.
They check in, even when I can’t respond.
One encouraged me to set my alarm a little earlier for the next day, to go for a walk before work. At the time that suggestion sounded ludicrous. Even when my alarm went off the next morning I took inventory of my body and my feelings.
Every limb felt like a hundred pounds. Check
My head couldn’t be lifted off the pillow. Check
My soul, mind, and heart were flooded with unspeakable sadness. Check
But I didn’t want to have to admit I couldn’t get myself out of bed to go for a walk.
So I did. And the first hundred feet or so were miserable. I cursed the rising sun. I cursed the friend. I cursed my body for being so sluggish. I cursed my mind for cursing.
Until step by step my mood changed, and I was grateful for the sunshine, and grateful for the sight of the lake I live near. And grateful that my depression hadn’t taken over my body to the point of ending it all. I was grateful for another day.
And that day I let myself recover slowly. I didn’t force myself back into the land of the living with a cheerful force like I usually do. I allowed myself the time I needed to let my anxiety levels go back down to whatever normal is.
A few days after a depressive episode I usually wake up and determine “today is the day I can get up and do things”. My method is to make a to-do list. It’s really the only time in my life I make a list. But I enjoy the evidence of the victories I’ve made that day by checking off each task.
So today I made a t0-do list and I tackled most of it. I drove my errands thankful that I was still here, thankful that I was able to get out of bed, thankful to have the motivation to do what I needed to do. And as I drove around I heard the song Hold On by Wilson Phillips, and enthusiastically sang along to it, ironically of course. I sing along to iconic songs like that ironically. I’m so hipster like that.
And I’m writing all this to say, if you are in the deepest, darkest and suffocating time of your depression. There is a way out. It might take days, weeks, months. You might have one good day out of a dozen…but that one good day sustains you.
Hold on for one more day.