I woke up depressed, again. This is the time of year when it becomes a little more present in my life. The goal is to prevent it from getting severe. That just means I will not contemplate suicide. The good news is that I haven’t done so in about thirteen years. I will admit I have paranoia about getting that bad again. I would never end my life. Instead, I accept the challenge and appreciate the low-level to mediocre depression.
Don’t get me wrong, I hate being depressed. What does it mean to be depressed? Primarily it means having a feeling of hopelessness. Nothing excites you. I mean NOTHING. It sucks to have great things going on but you have no ability to look forward to and enjoy them.
I subconsciously started doing something years ago when I felt the big D coming on. I start making plans. I’m the type of person who will always do what I say I’m going to do, no matter what. If I can’t live for myself, I will do things for my family and friends. So I make plans with family and friends. Then I follow through with those plans even though I may not want to. It’s like going through the motion of life. However, sometimes I feel better when I do. This is a coping mechanism. It’s one of the ways I keep myself going.
Depression is NOT the opposite of happiness. I hate when people say “just be happy.” I AM happy. What is there NOT to be happy about? My husband is phenomenal. My kids are happy, healthy and well-balanced and my parents are supportive and superb people. I’m a successful career mom who has the support of her husband to make it all work, all while he works a job too. We have money because we’re smart with it, most of the time. I have good physical health but admittedly work hard to make that happen. At least I’m doing everything I can to be healthy and often think how much worse my depression would be if I weren’t doing those things.
So why do I suffer? I used to ask myself this a lot when I was younger. It never made sense to me until my doctor said, “it’s all chemical Honey.” Yes, he calls me “honey” probably because he’s old and that’s what you call people when you’re old.
I tell myself I should be thankful that this is my disease. I could have cancer, MS, diabetes, or any other sucky-ass condition. I should appreciate my asinine mood disorder. I should appreciate that sometimes I feel like I’m in a black hole that I can eventually dig my way out of because others don’t have the ability to dig their way out of a cancer diagnosis.
Depression is pretending you’re hunky dory when you’re not. Who said authenticity is overrated? Probably an asshole. I’m sorry, but I’m sick of “faking it until I make it.” Do you know how exhausting that is?
I pull myself out of bed every day and live my life. What’s the alternative? I get on my treadmill because nine times out of ten this will give me “hope” and push me through my day. Sometimes that running-induced chemical change will only last a couple of hours but guess what, those couple of hours feel so good! Then I just fake my way through the rest of my day.
I work in an office environment so I’m surrounded by people. I can’t tell them I’m not feeling well. I can but I don’t want to talk about it. Some of my closest co-workers know and they support me. That means they let me be myself. I can be authentic. I can cry in front of them. I don’t have to put my fake smile on. I can just be “me” and I love them for that. They are not just co-workers, they are my closest friends.
Being depressed is feeling bad about yourself. It’s finding all the negatives and making them ten times bigger than they are. I’d like to point out that most of the time I’m frickin awesome and the rest of the time I suck. There’s never an in-between.
Being depressed is feeling like you’re a burden to everyone around you. This is when you may “fake it” because you don’t want to burden the people you love most. Of course, these are the people who will know right away when you’re not “OK” especially if you see them every day. They can see the look in your face. It’s a little harder to ascertain via phone call or text message.
My husband is my primary support. He can take one look at me and know I’m depressed. He will push me when I need to be pushed but he also knows when to stop. He’s my anchor and my strength. I can’t imagine how depressed people without a strong support system can do it. Maybe that’s why suicides happen. Suicides also happen because depressed people truly have a mindset that they’re burdening others. That makes me sad.
Depression is not sadness but I do cry a lot. It’s not “having a bad day” and it’s not “having a sucky life.” I’m a big believer in “you reap what you sow.” I didn’t ask to be depressed but I fight against it every day. When I’m NOT depressed, I’m usually high as a kite because I’m so happy I’m not depressed! These are the times my kids call me “weird.” I love being weird.
For those of you who suffer, just think of HOPE – hold on, pain ends. Remember, you are not a burden and you are not alone.
I also encourage you to read a book called Beat Depression and Anxiety by Changing your Brain. It will not heal you but it will help you cope.