I struggle with depression. I have struggled with it off and on since I was a kid. The past few days the darkness has returned for another unwelcome visit. The biggest temptation for me right now is to cement my lips shut and wallow in the darkness as it drags me down.
I woke up this morning and just cried. My infant watched me curiously, trying to decide if this was a new game I was playing with her. She would start to smile and then stop and just watch. Somehow this made it worse.
You know what I’m really good at? Pretending. I can pretend it’s all good until I’m blue in the face. I’m good. I have it together. I am in control. It’s all good.
But as my chest clenched tighter and tighter under the pressure of many hurts, I made a decision. I won’t be quiet about it.
No. I will have his one victory over this silent malicious burden. I know I’m not the only pretender drowning out there.
You are not alone.
So suck it Depression! Here are 5 reasons why you bite the big one
1. You Still Gots Responsibilities!
Yes, the poor grammar was intentional.
You wake up and would really prefer to just disappear. Maybe slowly collapse onto the floor and stay there until someone drags you into a bed to sleep it off.
But then you have a baby crying and a three year old begging for ice cream for breakfast. Your five year old thinks you should pack everyone up and head to the grocery store because he wants more Lunchables and grapes. So yeah. You have to be a parent and all that entails while dealing with your existential internal crisis. Nothing like a poopy diaper when you’re questioning your existence.
Then there is your job.
I’m lucky. I’m a stay at home mom. My isolation is absolute and I need not put too much effort into appearing happy for anyone’s sake. So I can stare morosely at the disastrous mess around me and sob at my lack of motivation to accomplish any of it.
It might be worse if I were forced to smile and get things done or face being fired. But alas, my purpose is laundry. So there’s that. Backhanded optimism. Lol!
2. Living an Oscar Worthy Performance and Being Rewarded Loneliness Instead
I don’t know about you, but when I’m going through crap, the last thing I want to do is push away the tenuous relationships I’ve managed to build by revealing my bothersome instability. The last thing I want to be for another person is high maintenance or the dreaded “drama” we all try to avoid.
So I suffer alone- which always amplifies the things I’m obsessing over.
The more I analyze this, the more obvious it becomes that isolation is one of the greatest weapons in depressions cache.
Well this is me fighting it! You will NOT isolate me! I will blog this insanity out to a horde of strangers! I’m putting this nonsense on blast!
The people who genuinely love me will not abandon me when I need them the most. I wouldn’t do it to those I love, why should I believe the LIE that they would do that to me?
I say once again- SUCK IT Depression!
Okay mama, calm down. They get it…
3. Temptation is Strongest When You’re at Your Weakest
How to put this into words…
Let’s look at this simply. When you get a boo boo, you run to your mommy or daddy and have them kiss it before placing a bandage on it. All better!
The bandage would have been sufficient, but it was the kiss that really eased your burden.
The emotional acknowledgement of your suffering holds healing.
What does a child do if there is no one around to kiss their boo boo and assure them it will be okay?
When they don’t bleed out and die, they generally jump back up and go play. In essence, they distract themselves from the stinging on their knee. A different approach, but equally as effective.
Adults aren’t always as resilient. Neither are their “boo boo’s” so benign. When there is no one around to acknowledge their suffering- or they are unwilling to let someone know about it, what do they do?
You can only wallow in anguish internally for so long. The process is exhausting. If you decide to press on with life, eventually you’ll want to FEEL good.
Depression is oftentimes a chemical imbalance in the brain. It doesn’t mean the issues aren’t real, mind you, but that your brain is basically a freaking double agent. You’re lured into a false sense of security because…you know..it’s YOUR brain. Then it turns on you, altering and exaggerating the negative perceptions of your reality.
When there is no solution or outlook of healing, we seek to cover the negative with positive, even if it’s only superficial.
When people are in extreme pain, their body will protect itself by rendering them unconscious. Similarly, when our emotional suffering reaches a certain point, we tend to fall into an apathetic state. This makes our seeking to feel good more dangerous, because we care less about the consequences.
So ALL that to say- when you are fighting depression, you may think, who cares, and dive into whatever will help you feel better. Whatever will help you to feel alive. Alcohol, drugs, sex, food, risky behavior. Or maybe you just tune out the world and responsibilities and escape into a fantasy world. (My favorite option.)
I’m not saying that we always cave to these temptations, I’m just saying we get to stare them in the face day after day as they bat their eyelashes at us.
When you’ve been through it enough times, you figure out that the high cannot be sustained and the crash is so much worse than the despair you’re suffocating in now.
So…damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
Aren’t you happy you decided to read this?
Remember- this isn’t about how to overcome depression- it’s about why depression SUCKS!
So please reserve your expectation that a ‘Pastor’s Wife’ should go on and on about the healing of God and be happy happy about it- and appreciate that I know suffering even when my soul is in the safe arms of a loving God. THAT is real life.
4. It’s a Sneaky Scoundrel
You’ll be strolling along through life, fresh from a lively vacation. You have your ducks in a row and your relationships all sorted and healthy-like, then BAM! You’re flat on your back staring up at the storm rolling in like, whaaaat-?
Seriously. Some days I wake up and sense the weight of the depression. It’s like a freaking ninja! Where did you come from? Get outta here!
But that little ninja has not come to tip it’s hat and walk on by. They’ve come to do work on your soul.
You can’t predict a depression attack. You just have to hope it doesn’t strike when productivity is vital.
5. It’s Humiliating
Depression is stigmatized as a weakness. It’s embarrassing to admit you don’t have full control over your emotions. Over yourself.
We live life putting our best foot forward.
Can you imagine opening your Facebook to a photo of your dentist sobbing into a glass of wine. The caption accompanying it, “I’m not sure I went into the right vocation.”
What if you opened your Instagram to see that single mother you admire for her strength sitting on her couch staring blankly. The caption reads, “Another Friday night alone. Am I really so unlovable?”
We see our dentist relaxing at the beach on vacation, sipping a Corona.
We see a selfie of that single mother and her little girl with a scripture about the joy of Christ.
I’m not encouraging raw candidness all of the time. I’m just saying we keep our hurts private more often than not. There’s nothing wrong with that. Frankly, our garbage is nobody’s business. But it makes admitting to weakness a bit more taboo.
Then there’s the medication angel.
A lot of times you have to take at least a low dose of an anti-depressant to bring your mental quality of life to a manageable state. Sometimes you need an anti-psychotic.
Depression is not something that is in your head that can be dealt with and fixed on your own. The chemicals in your brain are off and need some adjusting.
But we joke to each other, using phrases like,
“So-and-So is off their meds!” Hahaha!
“Did you forget to take your meds today?” Hahaha!
So if you are depressed and need to take meds, you fear being seen as an off-your-rocker, butt of the joke.
Let me just say this. It takes incredible strength to live with depression
It also takes some freaking courage to admit you have it.
Because I’m terrified right now. Mostly of your judgement. Of how you will treat me now that you know.
But please know this. I am not fragile. I am not about to break. I have good days and bad days.
Depression does not define me.
I am still me.
In fact, depression had helped shape me and make me a stronger and more empathetic person.
It’s a pain in my rear end, but you sink or you swim. When you look at me, know that I am swimming and have some impressive emotional muscles because of it.
Now if you could just forget that I told you any of this…that would be great.