Originally published April 10, 2017
I’ve been writing this off and on all day, but there’s this expectation that I’ll do work while I’m at work, so it’s taken me a bit longer than I really wanted. Seriously, do they not realize I have THOUGHTS I NEED TO EXPRESS?!
Anyway. So. Hi. It’s been a while. I’m sure you noticed.
Here’s the thing, I feel like garbage most of the time, and I guess I need to put that out there so people will know why my writing is so depressing. It’s because I’m depressed. Funny how that works.
Depression manifests itself in different ways for different people. Like we all have sort of the same thing going on, but we also feel it uniquely. Some people just want to be alone and sleep when they get a particularly bad wave, others become desperate for human interaction. The cause is the same, but how we feel it is different. Words are hard. Hopefully someone understands what I’m trying to say there.
It’s hard to even explain how I feel with and deal with mine. I find myself completely unable and unwilling to smile, furious at myself and everyone around me, feeling guilty for how angry I am, feeling sad about some of it and all of it and none of it all at once. I think at my core, I feel like I’m just waiting for someone to tell me I’m not alone, that they care.
And when a wave hits me, there’s almost nothing I can do except keep treading water and hoping I can keep coming up for air.
I try to stay ahead of it by keeping myself distracted. But the distractions I come up with, in retrospect, seem driven by some sort of manic motivation that I can’t summon on a regular basis. In the last year, I’ve decided to learn Italian, write a book, pursue a professional acting career, lose 50 lbs, learn to play ukulele, and get another degree. Some of those things have moved to the backburner, some will probably never happen, and some are still in progress. However, I’m constantly plagued by the fear that I’ll fail at all of these. Some of them also make me feel guilty for even attempting them. Like, hey, sure take some college classes – because a new degree I might never use is totally worth racking up even more debt that I can feel guilty about and making things even harder for us, financially, down the line. I mean, I’m getting so much use out of the degrees I already have, right? Might as well get another one!
There’s also the constant fear/knowledge that if I get discouraged, or feel like I’m not good enough, or that nothing I’m doing matters, I will completely lose my motivation and enter “fuck-it” mode. My spare bedroom at home is filled with things I started and will never finish because I eventually got to “fuck-it” mode – either because I felt like no one supported me in the endeavor, or because I simply couldn’t stay motivated.
So, I get discouraged, stop trying, wish I had the motivation to do things, feel bad about myself, lose motivation, rinse and repeat.
It’s a fun cycle. And it triggers a wave.
Sometimes I think about things that used to make me happy that I can’t have anymore, and can’t stop crying.
Sometimes I think about something that made me sad one time, and can’t stop crying.
Sometimes I think about the choices I’ve made that got me here, and I can’t stop crying, then I feel guilty for being sad about where I’m at in my life, and I cry even more.
Sometimes I’ll have a random thought about something happening to my kids, and my brain will play out the entire scenario, all the way through the funeral and learning how to live with the grief, and I can’t stop crying even though NONE OF IT HAPPENED.
Sometimes I’ll just feel like crying and won’t be able to stop, but cannot figure out why I’m sad.
So, I try to talk to people. Then I try not to feel rejected when we have nothing to talk about. I overthink everything anyone ever tells me – or doesn’t tell me. Then I assume people don’t tell me things because they don’t trust me or don’t like me. Or both. Then I overthink that. Then I shut down emotionally. Then I apologize for shutting down emotionally. Then I feel even worse when no one seems to have noticed.
So often I feel like I’m screaming at the top of my lungs just hoping that someone will see that I’m drowning and offer me a life raft, and so often I’m forced to struggle to the shore on my own.
I talk to my therapist. Then I feel like I’m doing that wrong because their responses are really vague. Then I feel like I’m too dumb to even do therapy correctly and shut down because I feel like my therapist probably thinks I’m dumb.
Last weekend, I told my parents I have depression. That went better than expected, to be honest, except that now I have to deal with the fact that my parents know I have depression and want to “fix” me. It’s funny because I’ve always had the impression that my family doesn’t really believe in mental illness. There’s this “suck it up and get over it” mindset that’s been drilled into me my whole life.
“Why are you sad? Well, stop. Be happy instead.”
Actually, my mother is pretty convinced I have brain damage from the car wreck I was in in 1997, or the meningitis I had as a baby, and that’s why I’m sad all the time. I mean, I guess it’s possible. And that’s something tangible for her to latch onto, so why not.
Also, let’s just talk about customer service for a hot minute, shall we? After being told, by my therapist, that I need to get on an antidepressant, I called my doctor to make an appointment. I told the receptionist, “I’ve been diagnosed with depression and I need to speak with Dr. XXXX about getting on an antidepressant.”
(PAUSE: So working in customer service for many, many years, I can tell you that phrase would have sent up a red flag for me and I’d be getting this person in to see the Doctor ASAP. Just saying.)
After about 10 minutes of being given the runaround about never coming in for my new patient appointment (I did) and needing to reschedule that (didn’t need to) and being told my doctor was on vacation until April 12 (because of course), I was informed that the first available appointment was May 1. I asked several times if there was any way I could come in sooner, and was denied. I mean…she heard me tell her WHY I needed to come in, right? Anyway, I guess I’m waiting until May 1 and I hope I make it that long. (Joke. Not a great joke, but it’s a joke.) Actually, I’m honesty thinking about calling and pretending I have the flu so they’ll get me in sooner.
Now look at this picture of a sunset because TRIGGER WARNING. Seriously. Don’t get triggered. Things get dark here for a bit after the sunset picture.
So about a week ago, I was sitting in the bathtub holding my razor after shaving my legs. And I sat there crying for about 20 minutes because I wanted so badly for that razor to be sharp enough to cut me – not because I wanted to die, because I don’t, but because I thought if I could hurt myself physically it might take some of the edge off the emotional pain. It’s not the first time I’ve wanted to hurt myself. I’ve been known to punch myself in the leg repeatedly, or slap myself across the face because I’m just so goddamned angry about being so sad and I want to literally slap myself out of it. But it was the first time I’ve wanted to draw blood. I didn’t cut myself, but I don’t know if I’ll feel that way again. I hope not.
And I don’t really know why I’m telling the world all of this except, again, because maybe someone will read it and recognize themselves in something I’ve said, and get help. Therapy, even in the early stages I’m in with it, is helping. Being able to talk to someone about things that I don’t feel comfortable telling people I know…it helps. And maybe I do have brain damage, or maybe it’s just a chemical imbalance, or maybe I’m just truly broken – but one way or another, we’ll figure it out together and come up with a plan to get through it.
So like, I guess I’m sorry that so much of what I write about seems to be focused on how shitty I feel. It’s just kind of taken over my life, and I’m hoping to have something better to talk about soon, but I can’t make promises. I mean, other than feeling like I’m worthless and bitching about politics, I don’t really have anything to contribute to the conversation.
But I blogged, so there’s that.
Depression affects more than 14.8 million American adults. Women experience depression at a rate of 2:1 compared to men – but this does not make depression among men any less of an importance or reality. Depression is the cause of 2/3 of suicides in the U.S. Up to 80% of those treated for depression show an improvement in their symptoms generally within four to six weeks of beginning medication, psychotherapy, attending support groups or a combination of these treatments. Despite its high treatment success rate, nearly two out of three people suffering with depression do not actively seek nor receive proper treatment.
Please, if you or someone you know are suffering from depression, seek treatment or encourage them to do so.
E-Counseling (what I use, and I’m not getting paid to promote them): http://www.talkspace.com
National Suicide Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255