To be honest, internet, I’ve been on the struggle bus lately. And, for the sake of this post (despite how uncomfortable admitting it is), I need to name that my struggle bus is called “depression.” To be more honest, I fear that by typing that word, I’m loosing a lot of your attention. The truth is, most of you stop by this blog when I write something that has to do with my background in domestic violence. Seems we’re all inherently interested in drama. I’m not immune– no judgment from me. But guys, I hope that a post like this can be just as circulated as my dating drama.
I make no secret of the fact that I struggle with depression. If you’re anything like me, the conversation you’re most privy to on this topic comes from commercials on TV for antidepressants. Or, you hear people mentioning that “end the stigma” thing or see news anchors discussing suicidal warning signs after a notable person’s life was lost to mental illness. Do you see what I did there? It’s a super important little detail that we’re not great at recognizing. See, I said life “lost to mental illness.” I didn’t say “killed themselves” or “took their own life.”
Now I’m a stickler for words, and I understand that suicide is defined as a person taking their own life or killing themselves; so, when I tell you that we shouldn’t say things like that, it’s not because I disagree that is what, literally, happens. It’s because when we talk about suicide in that way, we dehumanize the suffering individual. Do you know what really happens? The person who is struggling has been convinced, by their brain, that they are so tired, so alone, and so hopeless that death is the only, and ultimate, relief from his or her suffering. And, do you want to know the most terrifying part? Because it’s our own brains convincing us that life is too hard, it’s incredibly difficult to discern that our brain has been hijacked by chemicals and shouldn’t be trusted.
I’ve been aware of and treating my depression since 2012. In addition to the doctors and therapists who have taught me what this illness is, I minored in psychology in college. All of this to say, I’m a smidge more immersed in mental health than what’s considered average. Despite my knowledge, or learned ability to recognize depressive symptoms, I cannot convince myself to shut down the feelings it inflicts on me. I do and will struggle with depression for the rest of my life– just like I will always have asthma, brown eyes, and tan skin.
It probably doesn’t surprise you to read that my depression has been acting a fool lately. Rather than stick around, it’s been flirting with me for the past month or two. I tell myself it’s a normal, healthy people depressed mood, and I wait for it to pass. Which, usually happens.
What’s happening now, is that my break between episodes has dwindled to nothing, and I’m now the melancholy person in the antidepressant commercials. It sounds pitiful, yes? It is; but, I’m not choosing to feel this way. I can watch motivational videos and listen to happy Coldplay music until the cows come home, but they won’t fix me (ha, Coldplay pun). They just help occupy my otherwise frozen mind.
The first thing that happens to me after my alarm goes off in the morning is this rush of heavy fatigue. Typically, it’s so crippling that I feel sick. And, you guys, it’s not like I’m faking it, I do actually get sick. Then, I have to try and figure out if I have a contagious bug, or if it’s a me fighting life/exhausted illness. As of late, I’m aware that it’s the latter. What that means for me is that to get myself out of bed, I have to become a robot. To keep up with my responsibilities, I have to go through the motions of life– while feeling little apart from the voice in my head repeating, “go back to sleep.” I feel it’s necessary, again, to mention I am not choosing these feelings. I know I shouldn’t feel the way I do. I know what I have going for me. I know that I am loved. I know that there is more, but despite knowing, the exhaustion is torturous.
I’m watching my clothes slowly take over the floor of my bedroom. My allergies are out of control because I’m not vacuuming up cat hair as much as I need to. My dishes have been soaking in the sink for weeks, and bags of garbage wait at my door to be taken out. Disgusting, right? It is all I can do to meet the basic requirements of my life. I am, one-thousand percent, doing everything I can– seriously. The little compassion I have for myself encourages me to be proud of my efforts, and what I have managed to accomplish in this time. Though I feel a crazy amount of shame for the state of my life, or how little energy I have to play with my nanny kids, (that one’s a biggie– MAJOR guilt for not feeling like enough for this family) I have done the most helpful thing any depressed person can do for themselves. I’ve asked for help.
Asking for help when struggling with mental illness makes me feel way pathetic. This is probably the second or third time I’ve asked for it in the six years I’ve known I have this illness. I only do it now because I’ve learned how much harder it is to find my way back to health on my own. Avoiding help makes my depression say, “yay” and exemplifies my exhaustion.
Please know that I am getting the help I need. I am, somewhat, maintaining my daily responsibilities, and I’ll be alright. For the sake of the honesty of this blog, I want to be upfront that I am struggling. It’s a thing that happens, and talking about it is way important. For me, this episode likely means that my brain has adjusted to my medication. It means I probably have a Psychiatrist visit in my future, and a new adventure with a new medication. Ugh. It seems like so much work, but I know it’s necessary. I’ve got to keep going up.
Let’s all try to be a little more compassionate to ourselves and others who are hurting. Up and up, y’all.