It’s always interesting to me to see how people react when I talk about depression. Specifically my depression. For years now I have accepted that this is a part of who I am as much as the color of my eyes and the shape of my fingers. It is not all of me, but it is never gone.
It is possible to be completely and truly happy and suffer from depression. I know this because I go through this. It is also possible to go through incredibly difficult and painful situations and know that you will come through the other side unharmed because you know how to manage.
Sometimes I cry because it releases the buildup of stress. Sometimes I cry because I am angry or frustrated. Sometimes I cry because I feel like I have disappointed or let someone down. I feel better after crying through these things.
Then there are times when I feel jealous or defeated or unwanted or stupid or less than. There are times when I feel like no one sees me and I so desperately want to be seen. Crying through these emotions doesn’t help. The feelings just become little pebbles that go into my pockets and slowly I sink and retreat. Sometimes the pebbles are rocks I carry. Sometimes I can talk to friends and they help me put the rock down and I feel lighter.
Talking about things lifts the pebbles out of my pockets and sets me free.
But there is always this residual dust of shame. What right do I have to be unhappy? Things are going so well! Things could be worse. You know people who have it worse. You should be thankful for all of the wonderful in your life.
And I am. I AM thankful. But you see, I am also a person who suffers from depression. It doesn’t go away. Sometimes it is obvious when I am in a dark place: I retreat and keep to myself. Other times it is not so obvious. I just know it is there because the sparkle of life has faded just a little bit.
At the end of a year it is common to have a pause for reflection, and honestly that is all this is. I turned 39 a few days ago and I kept thinking about the day I turned 30. I had been a caregiver to Millie for not quite a year when I was 30 and mother, Millie and I had just moved into a lovely home together. These last nine years have been so unlike anything I would have imagined for myself. Was depression with me the entire time or was it just a thread that began to knit itself?
If depression is the cover that drapes itself over me, surely I can find ways to resurface and reconfigure. Perhaps a cape could be fashionable?
This isn’t a resolution moment, because that feels like a set up for failure, but how about an awakening moment. I can not deny or suppress this depression. Doing so has nearly suffocated me this year. I need to find a way to work through it, within it, around it, above it. Who are you wearing? depression.