Tuesday, August 23, 2011

It's Dark At The Bottom

Have you ever suffered from depression?  Many people get the blues now and then, mood swings are normal. But have you ever sat at the bottom of a well, looking up trying to see daylight?  The walls of the well are lined with all the things you have to do everyday and you just can't climb out?

I'm not talking about going to work, or trying to renovate your home, either. I mean EVERY part of your day. You have to force yourself to put your feet on the floor. You walk around like a zombie. You reach for your coffee and it helps you stay awake, but eventually it doesn't even taste like anything.  The simple things, like brushing your teeth are chores you have to write down to remember.

Maybe you have a day or two that are sluggish. Lazy even. You ignore a simple job like picking a towel off the floor.  Everyone gets this way sometimes. You scrape through the day doing absolutely nothing more than you HAVE to do. If you are a parent, you can get your kids through their day. They are dressed, bathed, fed, well looked after. You even take part in active play with them. You listen to their dreams and their fears.  You wake up the next day and know that it was a dry spell, just a slump, and you jump back into reality.  You can't be depressed, really.... look how much you can do in a day!

What if you woke up and realized that you didn't know what day it was? What if your eyes burned because you are crying in your sleep, when you thought that sleep was your only escape? What if you had a week of this?  What if no one seemed interested in you? What if there was no one there to be interested?

Maybe you're angry?  You're not depressed. You are furious!  Surely everyone can see that you have way to much on your plate. Why isn't this common sense to them? It's all obvious to you, so why can't they see what is holding you down?  Why has it been 6 months since anyone did anything for you??? 

Months?  What?  When did a bad day turn into months?  Do you remember the last time you felt good?  Do you know who you are? What made you smile? Where are your friends? Why is your spouse seeming so cranky?  What do you mean I've been standing here for 45 minutes?  I just came in here a minute ago to do the dishes!

Depression sneaks up on you. Sometimes you can feel the fall. Sometimes you know it's coming, but usually by the time you recognize it, you are already sliding. I'm not one to say that if you survive a bad depression you will be happy for the rest of your life. It's going to be a threat. But getting help and getting through it means that you will be stronger next time. And each time you tread through it you will have more clues, more tools and more support.

We never asked to be depressed. And we don't ask for help.  Who wants to hear "oh, you're feeling sad? You should have called me!" A) depression doesn't always mean sadness, and B) if you can't even put socks on, making a call is pretty unlikely.  And what would you say?  "Hi, I'm feeling kind of weird. I don't know what it is. I'm frustrated" or angry, achy, sleepy, hungry.... there are so many different ways that depression can show.  And you surely don't want to sound like you are searching for sympathy.  Of course, this is if you actually KNOW that you are feeling depressed.

If you don't know, things can get ugly. Even if you do know, you may not have the strength to get up.

But help is out there... don't be afraid to ask. You can see the sunshine again, you just might need someone to show you where it is.

Take some small steps. Write down the basics if you need to. Yes, I have had a list that said
"Put your feet on the floor, get some clothes for the day, go shower, brush your teeth. Dress. EAT."
And I still had days go by that I couldn't do that whole list. I could meet other's demands or needs, but I couldn't get me dressed?  And I certainly did NOT enjoy one minute of doing everything for everyone else.

But I'm working harder now.  I opened up the flood gates. It started poorly, I was screaming and crying at the others here. But I let out every mean horrible thought I'd had recently. I dumped it all out, I talked and cried until I was just empty. I honestly had nothing to say to anyone.
I scared them.
I scared me.

Then, after I ran out of things to scream... I was able to look up and see that those people are still there. They acknowledge my points, not just ignore them. And what the ??? They hug me?

They help me. They talk to me. They open up and let me know that I'm not alone.

Much of this climb up is my own. This is an internal fight, no one can do it for me.  But I can reach out when I feel weak. My perception of life at the moment, is not reality. Or, rather, it was not. It is cognitive distortions that rule my world. I've asked for help, less judgement and more support. But most importantly, I've admitted that I can't do everything.

I can feel better. I will feel better. And the big projects that are unfinished and haunting my thoughts ... can wait. Small steps. Each day is a new day.

Today, I am dressed. I am rested. I have eaten. I have worked. I have taken care of me, not just my kids. There are toys on the floor, but they are not going to hurt anyone. The small things that I've accomplished today are huge. They are big steps towards being healthy. If nothing else gets done today, I'm okay.

Just because I was able to do everything before, doesn't mean I have to do everything now. My kids are growing. My Angel Baby is 3 now, out of a crib and not napping. This is a big change. My days are busier. I don't have to do everything I did before. Because life changes. And if I don't change with it, I can not get better. 

1 comment:

  1. Depression is something that I have struggled with on and off since before I can remember. It just shows up and one day I realize I am empty; I have no emotions, no cares, no desires. I can't even be sad because that would be something and I have nothing. My husband has never struggled with depression so I have scared him many times. But I always recognized that it was me that needed to fix it. I needed help. I needed less judgment. But only I could take that and make myself whole again. I am pregnant right now and have suffered from severe postpartum depression with my last two kids, so I am just waiting for the storm clouds to roll in once this baby is born. When I am in the bottom of the well, I can never remember how I got out of it before. But I always manage to get out of it again. It is frightening. It is lonely. But it is a life struggle. Being aware of it is the most important step. You can get through this. Change is what we do and who we are. And bettering ourselves it what people like you and I live for. Exercise, eat right and remember you are not alone. I understand what you are struggling with very well, as I am sure you realize by our personalities. Message me if you need to. Seriously.