I need to come out with something. I’ve been starting to share this with my friends. Most recently, I told some of my family. It has been a part of me for quite some time, but in the last few months has truly manifested in such a way that I could no longer deny that something was wrong. What started as a fleeting thought here and there is now broadcasting on loud speaker within my mind. I cannot ignore this any longer. To ignore it, to deny its existence could have dire consequences.
I have depression.
Correction: I have severe depression.
I also have anxiety and I am on the borderline of being diagnosed with a panic disorder.
There, I said it. For anyone who stumbles upon my page, I am sharing with you what has been haunting me for over a year now.
How can I best describe what is wrong with me? How do I describe how I am filled with guilt, despair, remorse, and my self-worth has reached rock bottom? How I feel like I keep screwing up with everything in my life. With my kids. With the people I’m closest to. With my job. With school. With life. Or how the pressure to be a perfect example to others of what it is to grieve, be a widow, be a single mom, a daughter, a friend, a sister, are all now getting to me. My friends would tell you they’ve seen it building up. Slowly, it started out barely noticeable. And now I can no longer keep up the visage of being happy and my thoughts, which started as a whisper, are screaming at me loud and clear.
How can I describe all of that and more?
An analogy that seems to fit how I feel is this: I feel like I am walking against the current, going upstream. It pulls me under over and over again. Others are along the banks. My friends, colleagues, family. Everyone moves forward on the bank alongside me. It is seemingly so easy for everyone to go on. Occasionally, they reach for me, but my hands are so slippery I cannot hold on. And most of everyone continues on, without me. Leaving me behind.
Every once in a while, I find something to hang on to. A rock, a branch, whatever. I lean on for a bit. Rest for a bit. But eventually the current is too strong and the rock or branch can no longer hold me. So I am left drowning. Again and again. The current only seems to get stronger as I become weaker.
Everything in me is telling me how much easier would it be if I just let go and get dragged under. One. Final. Time.
But there are four angels, keeping me from falling under completely. I am drowning in misery, but my angels give me just enough air to keep me alive. My lungs are on fire, but somehow my heart is still beating. These angels are my children. They need me as much as I need them. I keep holding on. I don’t completely let go. They are my saviors. My heros.
This extreme feeling of despair is not just because of my grief, but it does have a large part to play. It is because of a multitude of things. The pressure in various aspects of my life. The need to be everything to everyone and not being good enough. The realization that my life is forever altered by the events that took place over the last two years.
It isn’t just me being sad missing Scott.
Do I miss him? Sure I do.
Do I wish none of that ever happened? Yes.
But do I understand that it is something I cannot change and that this is my life now? Yes.
I will always miss him and always love him. That will never go away. My being has been shaped by the life I had with him. I would not be who I am today if it were not for the life I had with Scott.
As I look back and evaluate my life, I realize that there are times where I have come very close to falling apart. Times where I am irrational out of fear and anxiety. I always found a way to cope. To keep moving on. But this time feels so much more different. The logical, rational side of me knows the truth that life is hard. Knows that I need to be here for my kids, my family, and my friends. Knows that Scott would want me to be happy in life and to have a fulfilling life. The logical, rational side of me is losing out to something. A force within me that makes me weepy, distant, out of place, tired, anxious, fearful, and defeated. My thoughts run a mile a minute in every possible direction. I’m scared of the things that pass through my mind. I don’t want these thoughts to be there, but somehow they are.This is something I cannot snap out of so easily. This is something that I will need time to figure out how to cope and heal.
A dear friend of mine has been with me along this journey and has given me the best guidance I could ever ask for. She has given me encouragement and lifted me up. She told me that I will get better with encouragement, love, support, and gentle compassion from those close to me. She says I will get better as long as I am trying. While there will be things that will get me down, as long as I surround myself with people who understand not the why of how I am, but rather the what, and that they don’t give me reason to doubt myself or to feel negative about myself, then the healing process can begin and be a much smoother process. She says I will have my days where I’ll be not quite myself. These are the days I especially need a hug, a hand to hold mine, reassurance that things will be alright even though to me it seems that they aren’t, and if I am not totally receptive, presence of someone who cares may just be enough. I need reassurance that I am not alone, that the people around me won’t abandon me, and to remind me of what I am to them. My friend gave me hope. And right now, that is what I need the most. Hope.
Talking with her, I also realized what I don’t need. I don’t need to be pressured to explain myself. I don’t always know how to vocalize the thoughts in my head. Or it is too painful to vocalize the thoughts, to let it all out. I don’t need to be told to pull myself together, to try harder, that I have no reason to feel this way, that all of this will just pass, that I can just simply change it, that life isn’t fair, that there are people worse off than I am, that I am lucky to be alive, and so on. Saying these things do not acknowledge that there is something clinically wrong with me and I have a mental illness. Telling me that this is something I can just snap out of is like telling an asthmatic that there’s plenty of air to breathe when he or she cannot breathe. Telling me to try harder is like telling a diabetic that they can make an adequate amount of insulin if they concentrated harder. I believe I read this analogy once. I wear glasses. Can I manage without glasses? Probably. I could squint, move closer to anything I need to see, take a bus or taxi or catch a ride if I need to go anywhere. I could adapt and accept that I’ll never be able to see anything clearly again, such as the sunrise or sunset or my children in a performance at school. But why? Why try so hard to manage life when I could just put on a pair of glasses? No one would ever suggest a near-sighted person should just work harder. No one would say “Maybe that’s just your normal” to someone who needs glasses. They would say, “Let’s go to the eye doctor and get you a prescription so you’re able to see again”
You shouldn’t haven’t to try so hard. No one should have to.
Being depressed, it will take me time, therapy, and perhaps medication. I have taken the first steps in trying to get better. Acknowledgement being the first of many. I need to learn to be forgiving of myself and to be gentle with myself. Just like an athlete with an injury, they will not force themselves to work through that injury because they know it will only get worse if they do. They rest it until it heals. They do not think they are a “failed athlete”, rather they understand they have to fix something and they will take care of themselves until it is fixed. Pushing hard through this depression will only make me more frustrated and hurt even more. I’m already frustrated enough that I lack energy to do the things I want to do. I am already feeling discouraged when my body is in pain and all I want to do is go to sleep. So for now, I need to take care of my angels and take care of myself. I need to take it slow and be easy on myself. And in time, I hope I can find myself going through my day without the demons within me bringing me down. One day, I hope I can walk along the bank with everyone else. One day, I hope I can be happy with myself and with my life.
Here are some resources that have helped me. If you or someone you know is depressed, these might help you understand and perhaps get the help you need.
This is a very good read if you are feeling suicidal. http://www.metanoia.org/suicide/
Another article for when you’re feeling suicidal. http://themighty.com/2016/02/the-article-i-wish-id-found-when-i-googled-thinking-about-suicide/
Wil Wheaton talks about medication to help with depression and breaks down the stigma related to being medicated. http://wilwheaton.net/2016/02/youre-not-broken-and-youre-not-weak-depression-lies-because-depression-is-a-dick/
A favorite cartoonist of mine writes very candidly, with cartoons as well, about her depression. http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2013/05/depression-part-two.html
A series of comic on what it is like to have depression and anxiety. http://www.upworthy.com/a-comic-that-accurately-sums-up-depression-and-anxiety-and-the-uphill-battle-of-living-with-them
Don’t know how to help someone with depression? Here’s a start on how you can: http://blog.ed.ted.com/2016/02/10/5-ways-you-can-help-a-friend-suffering-from-depression/
Does your significant other have depression? Here are some things to remember when in a relationship with someone who is depressed: http://www.relrules.com/5-things-you-need-to-remember-when-dealing-with-a-depressed-partner/
A list of things not to say to someone who has depression: http://distractify.com/fyi/2016/01/14/shawn-things-to-not-say-to-someone-with-depression
An article from a favorite blog on grief: http://www.onefitwidow.com/widowhood-the-glass-house-of-grief/
Responses to the question: “What do you wish your friends knew about your depression?” http://www.buzzfeed.com/jamiejones/things-people-wish-their-friends-knew-about-depression?bffbmain&utm_term=.hspZpVqJj#.xaByONk3B