A friend texted me the other day: “I think I’m depressed.” And then an author I respect and admire wrote a blog a few days ago about her recurring depression. And then I talked with another friend who told me out of the blue, “sometimes I get depressed.”
And then I took an honest look at myself. It didn’t take long—only a couple seconds—because I recognize it. I’ve been here before. My old friend depression is back—she’s been here for a while now—but I’ve never really talked about it publically. Not on here, anyway. My family knows…they’ve always known. My closest friends know. They talk to me about it, they pray me through it, they check on me weekly—sometimes daily—because they love me enough to do so. For a few of us, it’s a two-way street of encouraging each other.
Depression is back, and it isn’t fun. For me, it comes in the form of a heavy blanket around my shoulders…feels like I’m swimming upstream against a very strong current. I tread and tread but never make it anywhere, then finally stop moving and let the waves carry me off. I try to discard the blanket but eventually give up and let it settle until I’m warmer than I’ve ever been but too tired to try and cool myself off.
As for my history, my first and (to this date) roughest bought with depression hit eighteen years ago when my older daughter was just a few months old. Here I was with two healthy and happy children, but I was so incredibly sad. Everything felt like work. Getting up in the morning, getting dressed, making beds, preparing lunch, folding laundry, driving across town, waiting until naptime to get some relief, crying through naptime because relief never revealed itself, making dinner, giving baths, going to bed at night. All of it was a chore. New mothers are supposed to be elated and satisfied, right? I wasn’t. I was lost…buried…feeling very alone in my private misery.
I remember one night, pushing my shopping cart through the aisles of Wal-Mart at 10pm, feeling so sluggish and numb. I made a decision somewhere in the middle of the canned vegetable aisle. I was going to leave the store, go home and pack a few things, hug my kids goodbye, and disappear. I was planning to leave a family who loved me, and it made sense. Suddenly everything was clear. Suddenly I felt light and free. Suddenly…relief.
I took my groceries to the car, sat in the parking lot, and cried for half an hour.
That was the night my depression began to lift. I suppose when you make a terrible decision that somehow seems to actually bring clarity to your life, you realize how low you’ve fallen. Rock bottom, that’s where I had landed. And the good thing was, rock bottom scared the crap out of me. I went home that night, kissed both of my kids, and climbed in bed. The next morning I discovered the black clouds had turned into a muted shade of gray. The next week, the clouds were nearly white. A few weeks later…I saw sunshine for the first time in months.
As for the next few years, depression reared its ugly head a time or two, but it was never as awful, never as isolating, never as heavy again.
It came back, and this time it brought a couple friends to join the party.
Here I am—with a growing career, with two more healthy and happy kids added to the mix, with family and friends who love me, with a life that all in all is pretty good. And depression is back. It’s been back for a while now. For long enough that it’s time to publically call it.
I’m struggling again. I feel half-buried again. Everything feels heavy again. Making it through the day feels like a battle again.
Why am I telling you this? Not because I want any “oh poor Amy’s” or even want to draw attention to myself. I’m happy living in the shadows while at the same time comfortable in my own skin. It doesn’t bother me to reveal my flaws; I like imperfections. I especially like imperfect people. No, I’m telling you this because in our overly saturated world of social media and happy happy ISN”T MY LIFE GREAT??? posts, not all of it is real. Sure, it’s a great way to put ourselves out there and connect with people, but are we ever really connecting if we’re never honest with each other? If we’re never honest with ourselves?
This is me being honest. The girl behind the smile and stupid quips occasionally struggles. Jokes come easy for her, but so do tears. Laughter comes easy for her, but so does sadness. The bright side comes easy for her, but so does the dark underbelly.
Lately there has been a bit more blackness than bright. More heavy than light. More burdens than freedom. More sorrow than happiness. My family has worried. My friends have worried. I have worried.
But fog always lifts, right? Of course it does. I’m starting to see a few rays of sunshine now, in fact. But before it clears completely, I just wanted you to know my struggle. In case you’re feeling alone. In case you’re struggling too. Because more than anything else, I want you to never carry a burden all by yourself. I’ve done that before, too ashamed of myself to share it with anyone. That isn’t smart. Things are handled better when others help bear the weight, at least that’s what I’ve discovered.
As for me, I’m going to make some changes. I’m not sure what those changes are yet, but I know that technology and how often I use it will be one of them. My phone often feels like a noose around my neck, so I think the phone may have to go…at least to a point. I’ve already turned off all notifications from every site, so that incessant dinging has blessedly ceased. That’s a beginning. When possible, I’m meeting more friends face-to-face and doing less texting, because I’ve discovered that texts are read based on whatever mood we’re in—not always good. As for other things, if something isn’t adding to my life, it will be put on the back burner. And I’m going to go back to working the old-fashioned way. With nothing but my laptop, a chair, and the wind outside.
It’s time to get back to the basics, to remember who I am and why I started. It’s time to be human again…less of a machine. It’s time to remember what it means to live. I’m not sure if these changes will fix things temporarily or permanently, but the important thing is to attempt to fix them at all.
You guys are on my mind. You are worth so much more than your struggle. Remember that. If you need help, get it. If you need to talk, find a trusted friend or email me. Things might feel hopeless at times, but they aren’t. They never ever are. Your life is beautiful, your reasons to smile are plenty, and don’t you forget it.
Much love to all of you.