She had felt blah before. The usual ups and downs from navigating life. She’d experienced hardship, some that had left her forever changed. But depression feels so different. It was certainly not something she had ever felt before. But, she has now. She called it her reverse light bulb moment. When everything she thought she knew for sure, all of a sudden made no sense.
There she sat, surrounded by everything that usually filled her with immense joy that now she just felt numb to. Experiencing depression is like leaving your body, then watching and feeling from the outside. Longing to crawl back in. Hormone induced depression, whether it be from infertility/fertility drugs, pmdd, pcos, pregnancy, postpartum, or menopause is absolutely no joke and we need to start taking it seriously.
It’s not about what you have or don’t have in your life. Feeling depressed isn’t about feeling ‘sad’ about one thing. It’s not about cheering yourself up or being more positive, or grateful. It’s your body/brain chemicals unable to connect and program properly. This can be brought on for many different reasons. Everyone’s reasons are different. Everything starts to feel overwhelming. Something small can trigger a horrible downward spiral. So, you teeter on lashing out or completely shutting down.
You realize there is only one thing worse than feeling ‘sad’ and that’s feeling nothing. Numb is a lonely, isolating emotion. Feeling like you are slipping away from the joys that used to fuel you. When the tiniest of joys were able to comfort you. Your morning coffee, a quiet afternoon moment, sun on your face, a hug from a friend, your pet, a night out, a delicious meal…Now you try to muster up enough energy to make it through your daily tasks. Finding motivation is hard. The feeling of being ‘lazy’ frustrates you, because you are far from it.
The thought of being a burden is what keeps you quiet. It keeps you silent, not wanting to rock the boat, or make a fuss. There are truths, that no matter how many times someone tries to reassure us, that we will never truly believe. No matter how much you think you know about depression and anxiety on paper, it will sneak up on you and slap you in the face. Your mind knows it’s not about weakness. You mind knows it’s not something you deserve. Your mind knows it’s not your fault. Your mind knows these feelings aren’t real. But your heart will question it all. All of it.
You owe so much to so many, so you keep putting one foot in front of the other. Who has time to take care of you, when you are the one who is supposed to takes care of others? Who the hell has time for depression?!
There is a feeling of shame. Of not being able to keep up with ‘life’ when everyone else can and is. You go through the daily motions, keeping your four walls held up. Not functioning is not an option. You don’t have time for the walls to collapse around you. You have dinner to make, a job, emails to reply to, family, friends and a husband, who loves and needs you… you have life. There is shame for possibly not looking grateful for everyone/everything you have.
Empathy you would give lovingly to someone else, you forget to give to yourself. So, the daily fight becomes giving yourself that small grace and permission to just accept your limits and where you are. So you keep climbing.
Accepting how you are feeling is not something that happens overnight. When you experience something like depression you are in complete shock. You are in denial and you are also in waiting…you wait for it to go away, to pass and to be ‘normal’ again. You try different things, hoping it’s just a bad mood. You keep waiting. Then days go by. Days that turn into weeks. Weeks into months. You have moments when you think it might be gone, but then you wake up feeling worse. It’s not a linear experience. It’s a confusing, sideways one and you start to question the why’s all over again. The more you question the more you realize it’s not anything you do or don’t do. Which gives you peace in some ways, yet leaves you feeling lost in another.
Admitting this might be part of your life right now, is also a terrifying. What if you don’t ‘snap’ out of this, what if this is the new you? What if you never feel the small joys you used to? This is where society talks about the getting help aspect of anxiety/depression. Just ask for help, get help, speak up, call the number and get fixed they say. Simple right? But, what you come to realize and learn is, getting help is not a quick fix. It is only a single courageous step, of many steps, in your own journey.
For everyone getting help means something different. The truth is, for most people with depression, they have gotten help and what they need you to know, is they are still fighting. This is their reality, even after getting that help. There’s no secret pill or therapy or way of life that helps everyone. So please give yourself some much deserved grace today, no matter what you might be fighting personally. And don’t believe what those darn brain chemicals try to tell you. We can’t take away difficult times for the people we love, but we can help carry them through their struggle and pain. We can carry them by reassuring them they are enough.That we are not a bother to one another and that it’s ok, to not be ok all the time. There is nothing more human or courageous than that.
Social medias need for 24/7 sharing of happiness, is leaving less and less room for acceptance of reality. Of what each of us experiences on a daily basis. More importantly, it doesn’t allow for acknowledging the daily courage that fight takes. Yes let’s celebrate each others smiles and good times but lets also celebrate the courage it takes to get through the bad ones.