27 March 2015

The Well of Depression (Or, How I Got So Thirsty)

No one cares what you do. They don't even care about you.

You are obviously a failure at being a mom. Look at all the problems you are having.

Of course you didn't do enough. Why else are you alone now? You will always end up alone.

Why do you even keep trying? You don't know anything.

Have you heard that voice before? The one in your head that keeps repeating these statements and others until you want to drown it out any way that you can? I have heard it from time to time throughout the years, but the last few months have been an endless monologue of these and many other not very nice thoughts about myself.

I have been through hard times before. I have felt down in the dumps and it would take some time to get out, but I always did. I cannot explain why this time was so much worse than the others. It just...was.

I was unhappy. I felt like I was going through the motions. I kept finding myself crying at the drop of a hat. I found myself lying on my bed not knowing how long I had been there. I looked to people for advice and cheer, but felt like am imposition. I did not believe my feelings were that valid.

I stopped eating a lot. I stopped eating most things, actually. I lost twelve pounds, but this certainly was not the way I wanted to go about it.

I started drinking more, especially since food was not appealing: more coffee, more water, more soda. More alcohol. I found the alcohol numbed me enough I could talk to people, online mostly. But it also unlocked a lot of doors to a lot of those mental closets the above thoughts sat in for who knows how long. I knew the numbness was temporary. The pain was not.

I did look for help, both from friends and from professionals. I started therapy. I started crying every day. I played a lot of music. I stopped reading.

That's when I knew there was a real problem: I have always found pleasure in reading, and now I couldn't. I just sat on the couch and stared at the tv most nights. Not to say I wasn't functioning. I could work, I could take care of my family, but I knew that I was still doing a pretty lousy job and that it was all just spinning my wheels.

Then I got referred to another doctor. I started medication. I kept seeing my therapist, kept talking to my friends, kept interacting with my social circles online, kept knowing that underneath I was still not worth anyone's time, not very smart, not necessary. I knew I was depressed, more than I had ever been before. Yet I still felt I should be able to pull myself up by my bootstraps and keep going.

Then I realized something. I admitted it out loud. To my therapist, my friends, myself.

I had no compassion. None for myself.

If I was face to face with another person with the same set of circumstances I was in, I would be empathetic and compassionate and see if I could help. So, why couldn't I afford that same feeling to myself?

The next day, I decided to take a social media break. No Twitter, no Facebook, no Instagram. None of the things I looked at to see if I could forge a connection, because the connection I needed to discover was the one with myself again.

That was 27 days ago. Today is my birthday, and I went back online yesterday. I was happy to see everyone that I missed talking to these last weeks, but know that it is something I will have to keep less immersed in than I was before.

I am not perfect (never was), but I feel better. Not wonderful and cured, just better. I have been able to focus on things I wanted to take care of, I have felt calmer. I have been reading again.

I decided to post this on a day of celebration (I mean, it is my birthday, y'all) because I am coming through on the other side of this depressive episode.  I know of so many that have gone through similar episodes, and to those I don't know about -- I just want you to know you are not alone.

It doesn't mean it is over and done with. Depression is something that lurks at the bottom of the well when things start to go dry. It isn't gone, but my well is filling up finally. That is something to celebrate in itself.